LOCAL GOVERNMENT

The Killeen City Council will get its first look at an ordinance putting a $1.6 million street maintenance fee into law at its workshop Tuesday.

On Nov. 13, 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.

After the Nov. 13 decision, the city was tasked with drafting an ordinance that will be discussed Tuesday. A formal vote on the fee could come as soon as Dec. 11.

In other business, the council will receive a briefing from Utility Service partners on a warranty program for sewer service line repairs that would potentially require a 50-cent rate increase for all water ratepayers.

On Nov. 6, the council voted 5-1 to move in the direction of the city taking ownership of sewer line repairs for homeowners and opting all residents into the warranty program. The city’s current policy says homeowners are responsible for all sewer line repairs, even under the public right-of-way.

Johnson voted against the motion, and Fleming was not in attendance.

To enter into the program, the council would be required to change a city policy requiring homeowners to pay for repairs to private lines that cross over private property to connect to public sewer mains under city streets.

On Aug. 7, the council directed the city to draft an ordinance to formalize its longstanding policy, but the council has flirted with expanding the city’s responsibility for those repairs, which can reach as high as $25,000, according to some homeowners.

While the council’s decision Nov. 6 was not binding, Utility Service Providers will be asked to provide more information on its program, which could take a five-year commitment from the city, according to City Manager Ron Olson.

A formal vote is expected at a later date.

The council’s workshop begins at 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Utilities Collection Building, 210 W. Avenue C.

kyleb@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7567

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