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.