Car

Life is about to get a lot easier for taxi and limo services in Killeen.

On Tuesday, the Killeen City Council unanimously approved an amended ordinance that strips away regulations on ground transportation companies to help level the playing field with ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft, which are regulated by the state.

The new ordinance ends requirements for city inspections of ground transportation vehicles, adds two years to franchise agreement terms and brings driver background checks in line with state rules.

Councilman Gregory Johnson, despite some quibbles with the ordinance, said it represented a significant improvement on the previous iteration.

“I still have concerns, but the draft we have tonight is much better than the one we had on the books,” Johnson said.

Over the past year, the council had gone back and forth on regulating ride-sharing apps, or transportation network companies, before the Texas Legislature passed new legislation sweeping away local regulations in favor of statewide rules.

House Bill 100, authored by state Rep. Chris Paddie, R-Marshall, and sponsored by state Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, required ride-share companies to pay a $5,000 annual state permit, and mandate drivers maintain digital identification information and not discriminate against passengers, among other regulations.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed the bill May 29.

In other business, the council held a two-hour work session on the city’s new financial policy package during a special workshop following its regular voting meeting.

According to City Manager Ron Olson, the new policy guidelines will act as a one-stop shop for all of the city’s financial decision making and will require the council to review its policies on an annual basis.

“We are trying to consolidate everything down to one place — and I think we have accomplished that,” Olson said.

The new policies incorporate a slew of recommendations from the city’s external management audit completed in August, including rules governing 20-year financial outlooks, tighter internal control measures and more oversight on bond policy and inter-fund transfers.

In other business, the council:

Discussed accepting a state grant to outfit Killeen police officers with rifle-resistant body armor. The grant would provide more than $127,000 in armor plating to 225 Killeen police officers at no immediate cost to the department.

Voted to approve nearly $600,000 for a professional services agreement with Garver, LLC for the design, bidding, contract administration and construction services for passenger boarding bridges at the Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport. All of the funding is covered by an FAA grant (90 percent) and by passenger facility charges (10 percent).

Voted to approve the potential issuance of $40,115,000 in refunding, or refinancing, debt to save the city at least $2.2 million over the life of some of the city’s general obligation bonds, according to a memorandum.

kyleb@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7567

(1) comment

Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.

In other business, was this open to the public or held in strictest confidence????

The financial package, as outlined by city manager Ron Olsen, did not, in my opinion, describe what I would say, was anything that describes what 'the new policy for this city covers. It is described in generalities, that is to say 'a one stop shop for all of the city's financial decision making and will require the council to review its policies on an annual basis'.

What does this really say as to what is a basis for say 'The KEDC and it's conditions that apply to and for what is prescribed for the continued operation of the KEDC, IE: the ability to maintain the KEDC I a state of continued operation by allowing the city of Killeen to administer contracts that are binding, to continue to pay this body a not so small sum of money, and continue with the KEDC operation in which 3 of the representative council members hold their voting seats as members of the council. Is that what this alludes to????

Copy: “We are trying to consolidate everything down to one place — and I think we have accomplished that,” Olson said.' End of copy.

As to the 'other sentence':

Copy: ; 'The new policies incorporate a slew of recommendations from the city’s external management audit completed in August, including rules governing 20-year financial outlooks, tighter internal control measures and more oversight on bond policy and inter-fund transfers.' End of copy.

Again, what did this paragraph really say about what this city intends to do as to, 'what controls are going to be instituted as to the financial picture as to 'governing 20-year financial outlooks, tighter internal control measures and more oversight on bond policy and inter-fund transfers.' Nothing, it is just a bunch of words that detail, nothing in reference to control and oversight'.

Voted to approve: a $600,000 services agreement, 'Voted to approve the potential issuance of $40,115,000 in refunding, or refinancing, debt to save the city at least $2.2 million over the life of some of the city’s general obligation bonds, according to a memorandum.' What were the votes, by member, that was accorded to this venture???? Was it a close, 4 vote minimum majority, or was it a 7 to 0 vote of the council. There is no way of knowing why this isn't ever recorded, it used to.

This council and it's operational practices have changed, and in my opinion, not for the better as it allows this council to become even more obscure, a narrower tolerance of transparency,than it has been in the past.

This has been the personal opinion of this writer and nothing shall be used, in context or without or changed in any way without first notifying, and receiving explicit approval from this writer.
One of the 4.58 % who voted.

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