By Mason W. Canales

Killeen Daily Herald

HARKER HEIGHTS - The City Council authorized the city to enter into an economic development incentive agreement Tuesday that would help construct a hospital in Harker Heights.

"This is a big moment for the city," Mayor Ed Mullen said, after the council approved a resolution about the issue. "Hopefully this will go forward with no other complications."

City Manager Steve Carpenter could not disclose the particulars of the contract between the LHP Hospital Group - the company constructing the facility - and the city until it is signed, he said. But he hopes to have the agreement finalized by the end of the year.

According to the resolution, the city is entering into the agreement because the construction of the medical facility will create more jobs, make the city more attractive and promote commercial and residential growth, and expand the city's tax base.

The council also placed two stipulations on the agreement, stating that LHP Hospital Group should provide final financial documents and the contract to the city.

The council has met in closed sessions about the hospital since LHP announced its desire to construct the facility in September. The meetings included negotiations about property and the economic development agreement.

According to a news release earlier this year from LHP, the facility will include 75 beds; cost roughly $100 million; have between 40,000 to 50,000 square feet of medical office space; and bring about 300 jobs.

LHP selected the site for the facility, currently named as HH/Killeen Health Systems LLC, to be placed on about 22 acres of land adjacent to the Rosewood Retirement Community with East Central Texas Expressway frontage, according to city documents.

Other actions taken by the council included:

Placing a stop sign at Halona Drive and Stillhouse Lake Road; adding two stop signs at Red Fern Drive and Halona Drive; and removing a stop sign at Halona Drive and Red Fern Drive.

Allowing alcohol services at the Activity Center for a Killeen-Heights Rotary event.

Awarding a contract for the reconstruction of two homes at a cost of $124,100 to EFC Builders.

Authorized the Cities Aggregation Power Project Inc. to negotiate an extension to the current electric supply and necessary related services agreement with NextEra Energy Resources for a fixed price per kilowatt per hour that is lower than contract rates for 2011-13.

Authorized the city manager to execute a Certificate of Acceptance of the Dedicatory Instrument for 0.23 acres of land, located at the southwest corner of Miller's Crossing and Knight's Way.

Received a presentation from Bell County Judge Jon Burrows and Sharon Long, Bell County tax assessor, regarding the Child Safety Fund.

Received a presentation about the Early Act First Knights and discussed funding the project.

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