LOCAL GOVERNMENT

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.

Airport plan

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.

kyleb@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7567

(2) comments

VetA42

[thumbdown]Can the City Mayor, Council Members and any City Staff tell this Citizen what do the yearly taxes go to pay?
I thought this was where infrastructure was maintained.
Why can the City keep building roadways to the South/Southwest yet they cannot come up with the money to maintain current roads.
Our City without Limits isn't a City without financial responsibility!!!

Pharon Enochs

The following comments are indeed the opinions of Pharon Enochs. I would question if Rivera has done anything right for the citizens as a council member. I believe Rivera was a council member when money was mismanaged and helped put the city in the mess it is today. I also believe Rivera and some others were stiffly against an audit of the city finances. These folks were saying everything was wonderful. I believe if the type audit the people wanted done had of been completed there would have been some folks facing criminal charges. I believe Rivera was very silent about the audit which was done when it showed things were not wonderful and pointed out a multitude of improper actions done at the expense of the taxpayers. Maybe if things were done as they should have been, taxpayers would not be forced to cover in my opinion gross money mismanagement. Rivera seems to get very upset when his decisions are questioned but has no problem making decisions when a lot of people believe as do I the decisions appear to be made in someone self serving interest not necessary those of the citizens as a whole.. The roads did not fall apart this year, last year or even five years ago. Granted this has been happening for a long time while it certainly appears as if city council sit on their hands while this happened. It certainly looks to me this was a serious continuing problem and the council should have focused on this problem all along. Now that is has reached a crisis stage, they city wants to do as always come up with some mickey mouse plan and put another burden on the taxpayers, due to the council's failures, poor management of funds, resources and lack of any plans or actions on the roads.

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