LOCAL GOVERNMENT

The Killeen City Council received funding requests Tuesday from its “community partners,” or outside agencies, during its fourth and final budget workshop before the first public hearing on the spending plan Sept. 4.

The council heard briefings from the The Hop regional transit system, the Killeen Economic Development Corporation, the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce, Killeen Volunteers, Inc., and Bell County Public Health District and Communications Center.

In his presentation to the council, EDC president Charlie Watts requested $386,354 in funding from the city in fiscal 2019, the same amount as the current year.

Both the KEDC and chamber are primarily funded through payments from the city’s general fund and water-sewer fund totaling $725,054 each year. Unlike cities such as Copperas Cove, which allocates a portion of its sales tax revenue for its chamber and EDC, the Killeen City Council sets its funding for the two entities every two years.

The chamber requested $338,700 for fiscal 2019. The council did not make a motion to amend those requests Tuesday.

In the past fiscal year, the EDC’s major achievement was securing 180 new jobs in downtown Killeen with Solix as part of a job creation incentive package, Watts said.

Solix, a Parsippany, New Jersey-based governmental services firm with a call center location at 402 E. Avenue D, will expand its current services in Killeen and bring up to 180 jobs over the course of three years, according to a news release.

In July 2017, the EDC also negotiated a contract with MGC Pure Chemicals America for a super-pure hydrogen peroxide plant in the Killeen Business Park that brought push back from residents concerned about air and water security.

The council also received a briefing from the chamber, which highlighted 14 Forward, a chamber initiative to spur private investment along the Interstate 14 corridor.

Abdul Subhani, president of the chamber, told the council the corporation and chamber were limited by funds received from the city and touted the 14 Forward initiative as a strong push from local business leaders to fill in the gap with $2 million in private funding.

“That (initiative) should be a strong statement to everybody that the business community stepped up and is saying we need change,” he said.

The council also reached a consensus to not provide The Hop regional transit system with its more than $455,000 request for increased funding and decided to postpone discussion on how to use those funds until a later date.

The workshop Tuesday was the council’s final budget preview before it holds a public hearing Sept. 4. At that point, if the council makes any changes to the spending plan, there would be another public hearing Sept. 11.

The proposed budget is balanced with no significant cuts to city personnel or increases in rates or property taxes. On the downside, the budget doesn’t include increased funding for the city’s street maintenance backlog or building maintenance needs.

In past weeks, the council received briefings on its operational funds, which are funded largely through property tax revenue, and its enterprise funds, which are primarily funded through utility ratepayer fees and airport passenger fees.

At a regular meeting sandwiched between the workshop sessions, the council:

  • Voted to accept a state grant to purchase 190 new body-worn cameras for the Killeen Police Department.
  • Voted to accept a $143,821 contract for technology upgrades at the city’s under-construction council chambers at City Hall, 101 N. College St. The upgrades will be paid through Public, Education and Governmental funds, which are franchise fees paid by city cable providers.

kyleb@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7567

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