After years of abortive attempts to address the city’s ailing roads, the Killeen City Council moved Tuesday to draft a street maintenance fee that will bring in $1.6 million per year from residents and businesses.
The council’s decision came at the end of three workshop sessions designed to outline the fee’s implementation, how much residences and businesses would be charged, and how the fee would be spent.
On Tuesday, the council moved 4-2 to pursue a fee that would bring in $1.6 million per year, far below the high-end estimate of $6.2 million the city proposed. The fees will be placed on water bills.
The fee will add $1.71 to a single-family home’s monthly water bill, pending final calculations, city officials said.
The goal of the fee, according to the city, would be for developments to pay for their proportionate impact on city roads, with supermarkets and high-traffic businesses paying proportionately more than a single home.
Mayor Pro Tem Jim Kilpatrick and council members Shirley Fleming, Hugh “Butch” Menking and Juan Rivera voted to move ahead with the fee’s implementation, arguing an immediate solution needs to be made to address the city’s crumbing road infrastructure.
“If we are going to go through the pain, get it over with and move on,” Menking said. “The continual ‘let’s not decide now’ is what pushed us to where we are.”
Rivera and Kilpatrick both offered fiery comments against emails and calls they said they received, threatening to vote them out of office if they approved the fee.
“If you want to vote against me because I did the right thing, then vote against me,” Rivera said. “I’ll be here.”
Council members Debbie Nash-King and Steve Harris were in opposition to the vote, with Nash-King proposing the council postpone the decision to an undetermined date at the urging of citizens.
“I understand the concerns but we have residents that have spoken loudly,” Nash-King said. “The residents just don’t want it.”
Fleming, Nash-King, Kilpatrick and Harris are all up for re-election in May.
Before his no vote, Harris said he favored pushing for a property tax increase to cover street maintenance costs if the city couldn’t find existing funds to cover the expense.
How the fee works
Determining the cost of the potential street fee on businesses is complicated.
In the course of developing the fee, the city determined 78 land uses based on daily traffic generated that multiplied by square footage would determine the monthly amount a building is charged.
The unit of measurement for the fee is a “single-family equivalent,” or the amount of traffic an average single-family home generates.
For example, one single-family home would equal one “SFE.” According to city figures, a 20,000-square-foot supermarket would equal 97.6 SFEs.
Following the council’s decision Tuesday to recoup $1.6 million per year, the monthly charge per SFE would be $1.71. That means a single-family home would be charged $1.71 on its water bill per month, but a major supermarket would be charged upwards of $166.90 per month.
According to the city’s expansive list of land uses, a 10,000-square-foot “general office building” would be charged $14.54 per month.
The council will vote on an ordinance formally implementing the fee at a later date.
On Tuesday, the council also received an update on the Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport Master Plan — a 20-year facilities plan that was the focus of three public hearings last week.
The public hearings were part of a comment hearing on the master plan, which will provide a guide for airport development over the next 20 years detailing short-, mid- and long-range goals and financial plans to achieve them, according to the city.
In total, the goals are projected at a cost of about $446.9 million, with short-term goals totaling $26.2 million, mid-term totaling $61.5 million and long-term totaling $359.1 million.
Go to http://killeenfthood.airportstudy.com for details on the Master Plan, and to leave comments about the plan.