As Killeen pieces together its fiscal year 2019 budget this summer, city staff will be tasked with balancing limited funds against resident demands for functional infrastructure and adequate community services.
Walking that financial tight rope each year will be difficult — but that doesn’t mean the city doesn’t have a wish list.
According a city presentation Tuesday on its fiscal year 2019 capital improvements plan, a five-year schedule for citywide planned improvements, the city has a 25-year outlook of about 140 major projects totaling $881 million.
That figure, though significant, comes with caveats: It’s not a current needs assessment, and alternate sources of funding — likely from state or federal grants — have not been identified.
But that lengthy list, preliminarily prioritized by city staff, does offer a glimpse into the city’s thinking on what projects will be necessary as the city grows in the coming years.
Here are the highlights, by category, of what city staff predict the major projects of the near future will be.
The upkeep of existing roads throughout the city has taken up much of the oxygen in recent council meetings as the city funds around 20 percent of its recommended deferred maintenance annually.
However, the city is balancing the upkeep of existing roads with the need for new or improved thoroughfares as the population increases and more residential subdivisions continue to pop up in the southern reaches of the city.
The city’s only major road project scheduled for funding in fiscal 2019 is the extension of Rosewood Drive to Chaparral Road at a cost of $3.56 million. More than $2.8 million of that cost will be reimbursed through federal funding.
To accommodate future growth, the city estimates a whopping $334 million in road projects in the coming decades, with the highest priority items centering on expansion in south Killeen.
The number one item on the list is the expansion of Chaparral Road — a project that has taken on new urgency after the Killeen Independent School District’s successful bond election in May.
As part of its $426 million bond, the district will construct a sixth high school at near the intersection of Chaparral and Featherline roads. That influx of new traffic following the school’s estimated opening in 2022 will strain capacity on the two-lane capacities of Chaparral and Featherline and two nearby north-south connectors, East and West Trimmier roads.
All four of those road projects are at or near the top of the city’s priority list, with a combined cost of $33.9 million.
The enormous cost associated with road projects will be reduced by the city’s participation in the Killeen-Temple Metropolitan Planning Organization, a regional clearinghouse for state and federal funding.
Of the 30 projects on the city’s list, 10 have already been placed on the organization’s funding schedule.
The single largest project on the far horizon is the construction of a “major east-west arterial” that would connect State Highway 195 to Interstate 35. It’s unclear if that project refers to upgrades to Farm-to-Market 2484 south of Killeen, which is currently a county road.
The estimated cost of the project is $40 million.
Two city facility improvements are scheduled for funding in fiscal 2019 — one of them a long time coming for seniors.
The Bob Gilmore Senior Center at 2205 E. Veterans Memorial Blvd. will see two phases of renovations paid for by federal Community Development Block Grant funding. The renovations will include accessibility upgrades, Americans with Disability Act compliance in the facility’s restrooms and upgrades to the kitchen.
The city also plans to construct an emergency operations center at the Killeen Arts and Activities Center at 801 N. Fourth St. The city currently does not a center for operations in the event of a major disaster.
In the long-term outlook, the city has a number of facility projects on the list that have been called for by residents — and a couple of luxury items.
Near the top of the priority list is the estimated construction of a new Animal Services facility at an estimated cost of $10 million.
The city has also highly prioritized the $1.8 million rehabilitation of City Hall — a former school house built in 1923 that has had significant structural issues in recent years.
In September 2016, the city commissioned an engineering study that found the City Hall building needed $1.87 million in repairs to be completely usable. Following the report, the city floated a number of possibilities for the building, including moving City Hall functions wholesale to the Killeen Arts and Activities Center.
As a stop-gap measure, City Manager Ron Olson moved most non-essential personnel to the center and shuffled personnel and files away from the south side of the third floor — the most structurally unstable portion of the building directly over the council chambers.
Farther down the priority list, the city placed the construction of a 10th fire station and — at the bottom of the list — the construction of a new Rodeo Grounds. There is no estimated price attached to the grounds.
The second-largest category of planned improvements is parks and recreation, which so far has zero dedicated capital improvement funding in fiscal 2019.
The city’s wish list in this category is long and shows its interest in bringing wide-ranging improvements to its parks and trails inventory.
At the top of the list is a remodel of the Killeen Community Center at an estimated cost of around $1.1 million. The center shares a parking lot with the Bob Gilmore facility, which will undergo expected upgrades next fiscal year.
The most expensive project in the short term is the $14 million construction of a “westside regional park.” That item is paired with the construction of two new parks in south and west Killeen at a combined cost of $10 million.
The single largest expense on the list is the $80 million implementation of a “trails master plan,” which has yet to be drafted.
The plan would theoretically interlink the city’ various hike and bike trails, one of which is currently being constructed near the White Rock Estates subdivision on Rosewood Drive.
At the bottom of the list is a $30 million construction of a natatorium complex.
Unfunded water and sewer and environmental services, or drainage, projects total 67 at a cost of $235 million, according to city data.
The most expensive of those projects are would be the construction of six detention ponds on local tributaries that total around $122 million. Of the 46 water-sewer projects, the most expensive are a group of sewer line and manhole rehabilitation projects that top out at around $6 million.
In the short term, the city has proposed a group of drainage and water-sewer projects that could rely on bond issues in the near future to fund.
For drainage, the city has proposed an $8 million bond to pay for improvements outlined in the city’s 2012 Drainage Master Plan. Killeen Director of Public Works David Olson said discussion on the bond could be delayed until next year.
Unlike general obligation bonds, which are paid back through property tax revenue and require voter approval, a drainage bond would be paid back through utility fees and would require only council approval.
The same idea is being floated for a water-sewer bond that would replace 2013 bond funds that are expected to be spent in fiscal 2019.
The city has not said large a new water-sewer bond would be, but a preliminary capital improvement schedules shows the possible bond covering around $4 million in expenditures annually through fiscal 2023.
Because the 2013 bond is paid back through utility fees, a new bond would not necessarily raise Killeen water-sewer rates obligated for debt servicing.