By Hailey Persinger
Killeen Daily Herald
The wait for Killeen's upcoming fiscal year budget will be a little longer.
According to the preliminary agenda for Killeen's Tuesday City Council meeting, City Manager Connie Green was scheduled to present his annual budget. But a delay in property tax rolls has pushed the presentation back at least two weeks.
Green said that putting the budget together without tax roll information could end up making the process even more difficult than it already is.
This year's tax rolls are particularly important since they will indicate the amount of money lost to a state property tax exemption for partially- or fully-wounded veterans.
The city's finance department estimates a loss of more than $670,000 in property taxes.
But until the final rolls come in - the deadline is the end of July - accounting for the lost revenue and finding places to cut spending will be difficult.
While the delay in the budget presentation will shave about two weeks off of the council's review of the document, four of its seven members said they are not concerned.
Councilman Juan Rivera said Thursday that he would rather see a document that is well thought out than one thrown together because of time constraints.
"It's better to do it right the first time," Rivera said.
Though Green works with department heads and city staff to create the yearly document, council members have the ultimate say in what programs receive funding, where money is spent and what expenditures fail to make the cut.
Last year's budget, the preparation of which Green called "one of the most challenging endeavors" in 20 years, was devoid of new programs and cost of living adjustments for city employees.
City employee health insurance premiums rose an average of 27 percent and 22 city positions went unfunded.
Weekly presentations on the 2009-10 budget rarely yielded opposition from council members and the choice to keep property taxes steady was unanimous.
According to state law, the council must approve the budget by Oct. 1 of each year for it to be considered an active document.
Mayor Pro Tem Scott Cosper said he doesn't anticipate any difficulty or arguments that would hinder meeting that requirement.
"I know that it will be a point to continue to provide excellent services to the community," he said before sharing his thoughts on possible rises in property tax rates. "In today's economy, it wouldn't be a good time to raise taxes. We will be looking for any opportunity to avoid that."
Contact Hailey Persinger at email@example.com or (254) 501-7568.