Boarding bridge

Passenger boarding bridges at the Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport are seen. The city of Killeen is currently seeking bids to replace the 14-year-old bridges at gates 2-5 as part of a federally funded grant program.

The elimination of free parking at the Killeen regional airport will be back up for discussion at the Killeen City Council’s workshop session Tuesday.

The council will further discuss the possibility of cutting 23 parking exemptions for certain veterans at the Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport as the city seeks revenue to prop up the airport’s flagging budget.

According to a city PowerPoint presentation Tuesday, the airport loses around 43 percent of its parking revenue each year to the exemptions — or 11 percent of the airport’s revenues on the whole.

In fiscal year 2017, those exemptions added up to $306,832 in lost revenue, a $52,000 increase from the year before.

For veterans, the airport offers a range of exemptions, including for at least 50-percent disabled veterans, Medal of Honor recipients, former prisoners of war, Pearl Harbor survivors or Purple Heart recipients, among others.

The lost revenue from parking comes at a time in which the regional airport’s boardings have declined, and one of the city’s three carriers pulled out from the facility.

In late November, Delta Airlines announced it would be pulling its two daily arrivals and departures from the airport after Killeen Director of Aviation Matthew Van Valkenburgh said the city “did not meet their expectations.”

Delta’s last flights out of Killeen departed Jan. 15.

On Tuesday, Councilman Juan Rivera said he was fine with eliminating most of the exemptions — excluding those for disabled veterans.

“If that vehicle has a disabled vet in it, I’m not cutting that exemption,” Rivera said. “Those people paid a huge price — every one of them.”

The city said if nothing is done to address the fees, the airport would likely require a subsidy from the city’s operational fund to remain solvent as soon as 2021.

Also on Tuesday, Killeen City Manager Ron Olson will give the council an update on police department vacancies after the department has had a net loss of 10 commissioned officers since August. According to department figures, 17 officers have resigned or retired from the force as the city experiences continued budget constraints.

On Monday, Municipal Judge Mark Kimball said the difficult work of policing Killeen has pushed some officers off the force.

Kimball said two rookie officers recently departed the department to take a job for less money and fewer calls.

“They went from answering 20 calls a night to two calls, and they said, ‘it’s not about the money,’” Kimball said. “Working this town is not easy.”

The council workshop will begin at 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Utilities Collection Building, 210 W. Avenue C.

In other business, the council will:

Discuss approving a council protocol policy package the council has discussed over the last three weeks. The policy will act as a guidebook for workshop and meetings, and provide standards on committee appointments and rules of order.

kyleb@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7567

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