LOCAL GOVERNMENT

The Killeen City Council will discuss two items Tuesday that could have a noticeable effect on residents’ water bills.

On the docket is the council’s continuing discussion on the city’s sewer service line policy and a possible street maintenance fee.

First, the council considers direction on 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. Some residents have sought help, including Austin resident Lee Huggins, when a repair of several thousand dollars on the sewer service line connecting his Killeen rental property to the sewer main under the city street failed.

Director of Public Works David Olson laid out Oct. 23 three options the council considered to help aid homeowners, including entering into warranty programs for homeowners to help pay for emergency repairs and accepting some or all of the maintenance and repair of service lines.

Among the options considered:

The city would set up an optional or mandatory warranty program through a private provider that could cost residents anywhere in the range of $7.75 to 50 cents per month, depending on the option.

The city would accept responsibility for repairs up to the public property line. Olson said this would likely cause a necessary sewer rate increase citywide of between 75 cents and $1.80, regardless of whether you have the problem.

The city would accept responsibility for the entire sewer service line, likely resulting in a mandatory sewer rate increase of $4.70.

Councilman Steve Harris was in favor of the city accepting responsibility for the repairs rather than opting into a warranty program. Council members Butch Menking and Debbie Nash-King expressed a desire for the warranty program.

Next, the council will discuss a street maintenance fee that would be assessed on commercial and residential water bills to pay for the city’s backlog of road repair needs.

On July 17, the council voted to delay discussion on the controversial fee, which the city estimates would add more than $6 to a single-family home’s water bill each month, at the highest estimate.

Now, city officials are pushing for action on the fee, arguing the solution needs to be found before street maintenance spirals out of control.

“Doing nothing is not really doing nothing,” Killeen Mayor Jose Segarra said Oct. 23. “We’re going to continue to see streets deteriorate if we kick this can further down the road.”

By establishing a separate fund for street maintenance, the city said an overburdened operational fund would receive some breathing room as property tax revenues remain constrained each year. If the city does not institute the fee, the other options are attempting to raise property taxes by around 2 cents or cutting expenditures in the general fund, which could mean the elimination of city positions, David Olson said.

The street fee, which has been voted down twice by the council in recent years, would help counteract ballooning deferred maintenance costs that have been woefully underfunded in years of past city budgets.

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

Herald staff writer Matt Payne contributed to this report.

kyleb@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7567

(1) comment

Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.
This city has been so enlightened that they figure 'they can do what they please'. This city should be guaranteeing what is properly, and I use the word properly, to continue what was the city's responsibility of sewer maintenance and surface road repair. It is the city's responsibility to keep and repair the main sewer line up to the first connection which in my case the joint is approximately 6 to 8 inches beyond the street curb. In that case, the responsibility abuts changing from the city's responsibility to the home owners responsibility.
In my opinion the city is shirking their responsibility wanting to shift it on to the home owner by saying the home owner is now responsible for the complete and total maintenance for sewer repair and they will 'allow' the home owner to pick up the tab for an insurance policy that the home owner will be forced to buy. I say the city was responsible and should continue to be responsible for the sewer main up to the first connection lateral, which is normally located 6 to 8 inches from the street curb.
Also the street maintenance is the responsibility of the city. That is what we pay taxes for, to keep and maintain the city streets of Killeen. Now they are telling us that 'the city budget is such that they, the city, can not and will not keep the city's streets in proper order, that is free of pot holes splits cracks, and other maintenance issues, and this is caused by the city only issuing a marginal amount of funding, totally inadequate to maintain the public streets of this city.
And they are now wanting the citizens of this city to once again, bail out the city for the inadequacies of the city, by again wanting to incorporate a fee which will be used for additional city street repair and maintenance. I personally believe that the city has the responsibility to keep and maintain the city streets. It's their responsibility and we as citizens of this city should hold the city fathers responsible. It's not the responsibility of the citizens to 'bail out the city when the responsibility is wholly on the city'. I believe the city council should stand up to the city management structure and say, 'no, it's your responsibility to complete both the sewer sewer main up to the first lateral, and it's responsibility to repair and maintain the city streets so as to be free of pot holes, cracks, and other such appurtenances to be free of any and all defects'.
This has been the personal opinion of this writer and nothing shall be used, in context or without or changed in any way without first notifying, and receiving explicit approval from this writer.
One of the 4.28 % who voted.

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