The city of Killeen will have millions of dollars of infrastructure tied to the build out of the Turnbo Ranch subdivision overseen by local developer Bruce Whitis when it breaks ground later this year.
The city will also be the sole provider of the district’s drinking water per the agreement between the city and Whitis. The water sales and tap fees are expected to recoup the city’s ongoing maintenance of the district’s water utilities.
As the sole provider of water and sewer service to Turnbo Ranch — also known as the Bell County Municipal District No. 2 — the city will provide those services at a rate consistent with Killeen residents.
That rate was negotiated and agreed upon by the Killeen City Council during the agreement process in 2013.
The city of Belton, which also is operating under an agreement with WB Development for a separate municipal utility district, will charge residents of the Three Creeks subdivision a rate 25 percent higher for utility payments, and water and sewer tap fees.
According to Belton spokesman Paul Romer, the average resident in Belton pays $29 per month for water and sewer up to 2,000 gallons.
Residents of Three Creeks will pay $36.25 per month for the same service.
Killeen City Manager Ron Olson seemed unperturbed by the city not receiving a premium return for its services offered.
“That doesn’t seem too unreasonable to me because our fees, theoretically at least, are set at a rate to recover our cost to provide the service,” Olson said. “I don’t think there’s going to be a big challenge in doing that.”
The arrangement by which the city will take control of the development’s water and sewer infrastructure is outlined in the contract. As the development builds its infrastructure in phases, that infrastructure will then be dedicated to the city for maintenance.
The subdivision’s utility rates, much like those of Killeen, will go toward paying for maintenance and upkeep of district infrastructure and also supporting the Bell County Water Control and Improvement District No.1 — Killeen’s sole drinking water provider that also treats area wastewater through its regional system.
The average resident in Killeen pays $12.70 per month for treated water up to 2,000 gallons, according to Director of Public Information Hilary Shine, with a charge of $3.17 per additional 1,000 gallons.
However, the city charges the average resident a flat rate of $18.76 per month for wastewater service up to 3,000 gallons.
Adding water and sewer together, the average Killeen resident pays $31.46 per month — a higher rate than Belton residents.
Killeen resident rates could move higher in the coming years as the city pays off its nearly $30 million obligation to a new WCID-funded treatment plant on the shores of Stillhouse Hollow Lake.
The opening of the $50-million treatment plant to provide an extra 10 million gallons per day capacity of drinking water to Killeen and surrounding municipalities has been periodically postponed from late 2017 to early 2019, according to the district’s general manager, Ricky Garrett.
Garrett said the district submitted its final designs for the plant on Stillhouse Hollow Lake to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which owns easements in a buffer zone around the reservoir.
“An application has been submitted to the Corps of Engineers Regulatory Division for review and approval,” Garrett said in an email to the Daily Herald. “The district has been in constant communication with the Corps of Engineers in efforts to receive a more timely approval.”
The plant will eventually help supply drinking water to Turnbo Ranch after it connects its infrastructure into the district’s system.
Current plans have the district connecting to a city main in the vicinity of Chaparral and Featherline roads.
Per the city’s agreement with the developer, once water and sewer infrastructure is installed, it will be dedicated, or turned over, to the city for maintenance.
The plant funding agreement with the WCID was approved by the Killeen City Council in February 2014.
Under the terms of an agreement, the city is obligated to pay more than $25 million in principal debt service to the district through 2040 for the plant’s construction as well as a $5 million down payment approved in the contract.
Harker Heights, Copperas Cove, Bell County Water Control and Improvement District No. 3 and 439 Water Supply Corp. pay debt service to cover the remaining cost of the plant.
According to the district, the amount of water the district now can pump to the city is 32 million gallons a day. The new plant will bring the capacity to 42 million gallons per day.
Currently, Killeen residents use about 15 million gallons a day, Shine said in December. The city can store up to 42 million gallons per day, Shine added.