The Killeen City Council reached a consensus at its workshop Tuesday to scale back city regulation on ground transportation companies to match recently approved state rules governing ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft.
Deputy City Attorney Traci Briggs presented a severely stripped-down draft ordinance to the council for transportation franchises and operating authorities that end requirements for city inspections, add two years to franchise agreement lengths and bring driver background checks in line with state rules.
Despite the lowered regulations, some council members were still concerned the $300 annual permit for vehicles — used to cover the city’s costs for permitting and background checks among other expenses — was not fair to ground transportation companies.
“I see the concern that we still haven’t leveled the playing field,” Councilman Jim Kilpatrick said.
Councilwoman Debbie Nash-King, who alongside Councilwoman Shirley Fleming attended a meeting of company stakeholders to work out a mutually beneficial ordinance, said the new regulations had the support of the transportation community.
“If we have to go back, we will, but the stakeholders had no problem with what we are bringing before you,” Nash-King said.
In the end, the council agreed to the stipulations in the draft ordinance and ordered the measure be brought back for a council vote.
In other business, the council was presented with a brief presentation outlining a package of city financial policies, including recommendations for the city’s external management audit.
Killeen City Manager Ron Olson said the full financial policy discussion — scheduled for a Nov. 28 workshop — is only the first step in the city’s push for policy reform over the course of the next few months.
“I think (the new policies) will be of tremendous help and we’ll just continue to march until we get to where we need to be,” he said.
Following the financial policy approval, Olson said he plans to bring forward new policies on council protocol and long-term municipal budget strategy.
At its workshop, the council also considered an ordinance to rezone approximately 1.855 acres at the intersection of Taylor Renee Drive and Chaparral Road to allow for duplex housing bordering a suburban residential neighborhood.
According to city planner Tony McIlwain, 67 residents in the area complained to the city about the request.
Due to the number of protests, McIlwain suggested the council rezone the land to “single-family residential,” which he said the protesters approved of.