By Mason W. Canales

Killeen Daily Herald

HARKER HEIGHTS - The City Council could decide at during its 3 p.m. meeting today whether to acquire roughly an acre of land for a future water pump station and other water infrastructure.

According to city documents, the city has sought to buy land adjacent to the maintenance yard because there currently is not enough room to "accommodate the anticipated upgrade and expansion."

For about six months, the city has been trying to negotiate a price for a piece of property adjacent to its maintenance yards where it plans to expand a water pump station and add an extra ground water storage tank, City Manager Steve Carpenter said.

Since the owner is no longer interested in coming to an agreement, the city is looking at taking other steps to acquire the land, Carpenter said. Those steps could include using eminent domain, but the city is still willing to negotiate, he said.

During the negotiating process the city made an offer, then the owner countered with about twice as much, Carpenter said. The city then hired an appraiser to look at the land which resulted in the latest offer of $62,000.

According the Bell County Tax Appraisal District, the property was appraised at $16,146.

"The appraisal that we had done is more likely that market price," Carpenter said, stating that it was compared with other property sales in the area surrounding the acre.

Since the latest offer was rejected, the city could start proceedings to condemn the land, stated city documents.

That would require the city to file a petition in county court. The county court judge would then appoint three special commissioners and set a date for a hearing that is acceptable to the owner. At the hearing, the special commissioners would hear evidence presented by both sides and arrive at an award to be filed with the court. The city could then deposit that amount with the court and take possession of the property.

Pump station project

"(The project) is very important for several reasons," Carpenter said.

The current facility, which operates three pumps, is too small, he said.

"During the summer, they are just going like crazy," Carpenter said. "If two of the three break down, we have a problem getting water into the system."

The project will not only install a larger pump station, but will also place a 1.2 million-gallon ground water storage tank at the facility. A water line that will take the water from the proposed storage tank to the Arrowhead storage tanks is also part of the project.

When the project is finished, it should help the city meet its water demand needs until 2020 or 2025, said Public Works Director Mark Hyde in a previous Herald article.

In 2009, the city received a certificate of obligation of $5 million to complete the project.

The city is trying to get the project out for bid, so that it can take advantage of the prices it has seen with other recently bidded projects, Carpenter said.

"Really (the land) is the only thing that is holding it up right now," Carpenter said.

The council also will discuss the following in a workshop meeting:

A presentation on the unaudited financial statements for the fourth quarter of Fiscal Year 2009-10.

A presentation on the Texas Water Development Board State Revolving Fund for the sanitary sewer project out to the annexed area.

A presentation on creating a grease trap inspection program for all commercial business located within the city sanitary sewer system.

A presentation on the Fiscal Year 2012 legislative issues.

In a closed meeting the council will deliberate the offer of a financial or other incentive to a business prospect, LHP Hospital Group, Inc. and/or HH/Killeen Health System, LLC., the council seeks to have locate, stay, or expand in or near the city and which the council is conducting economic development negotiations.

Contact Mason W. Canales at or (254) 501-7554. Follow him on Twitter at KDHheights.

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