City Hall

Killeen City Hall, at 101 N. College St., is seen in Killeen Tuesday, December 26, 2017.

The city of Killeen administration — marked by turmoil in 2016 — finally experienced some stability at the top this year. But what will happen next?

The hiring of City Manager Ron Olson in February marked a turning of the page for the city, if only for his fresh set of eyes and 37 years of municipal management experience. Olson was the first outside candidate hired for the role since 1993.

That experience quickly paid off: Olson shepherded a balanced budget through council vote in September and distilled recommendations from an outside management audit of the city’s finances into a policy framework designed to prevent the lax regulations and questionable decision making that hamstrung previous administrations.

But with one budget cycle and 10 months passed, what does 2018 hold for Olson’s fledgling administration and the Killeen City Council? Here are a few things to expect as the new year begins.

The budget

While Olson’s team only recently emerged from the budget creation process, the fiscal year 2019 spending plan looms.

Among the many challenges facing next year’s budget is the continued constraint on revenue from disabled veteran property tax exemptions — which alone strip approximately $4.4 million annually from the city’s general fund. The city’s operational fund includes $82.1 million in expenditures.

In response to that constraint, the city passed a fiscal year 2018 budget that was notably slim on public safety overtime and positions, community activities, and road maintenance funds, among other expenditure cuts.

In 2018, if conditions stay the same, the city could be up for another round of cuts in an already lean operational account.

But help may be on the way if the city implements its long-awaited developer impact fees to help cover the cost of infrastructure improvements. The fees would be one-time levies on building permits with recovered funds limited by state law to capital improvements.

The fees are intended to offset the costs of new infrastructure designed to meet a growing population.

Another possibility, and one that has split the council for nearly two years, is a transportation utility fee, or a monthly surcharge on resident utility bills that would be used for road maintenance and improvements. The council has repeatedly voted down that type of fee over the last year and a half, favoring putting the burden on developers rather than residents citywide.

Despite that, impact fees have been previously criticized due to the possibility developers would pass the cost of the fees onto customers rather than taking a financial hit — essentially creating a new fee on homeowners in those areas.

Solid waste

The courting of private bids for Killeen’s solid waste department will begin apace after city staff members draft a Request for Proposals for the service early next year.

The department is a $17.4 million enterprise that served 45,475 residential customers and 1,803 commercial customers as of October.

While the desired terms of the bids are unknown, there are a few stipulations expected to make it into the proposal:

The return of curbside recycling

The hiring of the department’s 87 employees

The purchase of the city’s solid waste vehicles and supplies

The payment of a franchise fee

The rental of the city’s waste transfer station

Private enterprise scenarios are various and could be tailor-fit for resident needs, but some members of the council have already shown some antagonism toward endangering city staff positions and losing control of the service.

During a Nov. 28 briefing on Olson’s cost-saving efforts in the department, Councilwoman Debbie Nash-King railed against taking private bids, saying the city had worked hard to cut expenses.

At the center of Olson’s process of “managed competition,” city services are compared — and possibly put out to bid — against private enterprise.

While Olson has not discussed any departments that he favors for private bid in 2018, he has said his administration is constantly looking for cost-saving endeavors as the city’s general fund continues to flag.

Bond election

The city has floated the possibility of a bond election in May as a companion to the Killeen Independent School District’s possible $426 million bond election on the same ballot.

The city’s bond, expected to be a minimum of approximately $46 million, would pay for road improvements in the developing south end of town, around the school district’s planned new facilities, but could also encompass more capital improvements if the council chose to expand the city’s debt.

The deadline to file the ballot paperwork for a May 5 bond election is Feb. 16.

The city already levies one of the highest property tax rates of comparable Texas municipalities, and a new bond issue would almost certainly come with a corresponding tax hike. That increase would add to the district’s property tax increase if its proposed bond passes.

The four major road projects the bond would at minimum seek to cover are:

Expansion of Chaparral Road from two to five lanes — $21.5 million

Expansion of East Trimmier Road south of Stagecoach Road from two to five lanes — $7 million

Expansion of West Trimmier Road between Stagecoach and Chaparral roads from two to five lanes — $7.9 million

Expansion of Featherline Road between Stagecoach and Chaparral roads from two to five lanes — $9 million

The total cost for all four projects — the baseline principal amount for a proposed bond — is $45.6 million.

The council is expected to discuss a possible bond early in January and could decide to add other projects onto its bond referendum at the council’s request.

kyleb@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7567

(3) comments

SnowWhiteNthe7Thieves

What's ahead for the innocents TRAPPED in KILLeen? Death, murder, assaults, robberies, burglaries, rapes, lootings, riots, and all manner of felonies, probably DEATHS. Seek God, come to Jesus, as an unlicensed CHEEF and council of CLOWNS are unable to protect you dear citizens.

Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.

I have a correction. In this morning news, I stated that the council was paid $450 00 per month. This to be corrected as saying the council was paid $50.00 per month, not $450,00 per month.

To the city council I would like to say, please accept my apology for misrepresenting your salary.

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 4.58 % who voted.

Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.


Copy: 'The hiring of City Manager Ron Olson in February marked a turning of the page for the city, if only for his fresh set of eyes and 37 years of municipal management experience. Olson was the first outside candidate hired for the role since 1993.' End of copy.

I have never been a fan of our city manager, Ron Olsen, so I don't see things with the rose colored glasses that many of you do. In my personal opinion, this man is continuing with the plan of this current administration, nothing more, nothing less.

Copy: 'That experience quickly paid off: Olson shepherded a balanced budget through council vote in September and distilled recommendations from an outside management audit of the city’s finances into a policy framework designed to prevent the lax regulations and questionable decision making that hamstrung previous administrations.' End of copy.

And was the balanced budget because of the work that was done by the former city council, who worked diligently for many long hours, for 450.00 per month, or because of this man, who is paid approximately $170,000 annually.

Copy: 'Among the many challenges facing next year’s budget is the continued constraint on revenue from disabled veteran property tax exemptions — which alone strip approximately $4.4 million annually from the city’s general fund. The city’s operational fund includes $82.1 million in expenditures.'
Continuation of copy: 'In response to that constraint, the city passed a fiscal year 2018 budget that was notably slim on public safety overtime and positions, community activities, and road maintenance funds, among other expenditure cuts.' End of copy.

Perhaps I am mistaken, but didn't the loss of $4.4 million get offset by another source of income???? And why does the fact that our military gets the blame for defending this country, defending you and I. The 'slimness of the public safety overtime' and the fact that this city manager cut the I think it was 34 positions that were vacant anyway, so what was the savings there. Now roads, that is another question, but not enough, so we do not want to encumber this facet by 'building more new roads.

Copy: 'But help may be on the way if the city implements its long-awaited developer impact fees to help cover the cost of infrastructure improvements. The fees would be one-time levies on building permits with recovered funds limited by state law to capital improvements.'
Continuation of copy: 'The fees are intended to offset the costs of new infrastructure designed to meet a growing population.' End of copy.

In my opinion, this would be like putting a 2 foot long surgical incision covering with a band aid over it. It all comes down to not only what is to be done now as to what is the long term solution. What are these additional roadways going to cost initially and what is it going to cost from now on. Is this city going to 'take care of it's existing citizens or plan for the new citizen.

What does this country 'owe' the service person who is wounded on the battlefield???? In my opinion, this should come out of either the state or national budget, not the city's. And does the continued maintenance of roadways, and bridges, that exist solely for the purpose of people that reside outside of our city limits that will use our roadways, and bridges, to be used for ease of commuting, to be used for entrance and egress to schools, and it will be on our nickle. So the proposed 'one time' builder fee would not cover the long term roadway, and bridge, continued maintenance fees that will exist and placed on the shoulders of you and I. So the fees are intended to offset, not continue with implementation of the increases costs that will prevail and prevail they will.

I am of the opinion that builder's fees are necessary, but do nothing for the continued roadway, and bridge maintenance which will be a continued obligation.
To use the old adage, 'you need to lick that calf over'.

Copy: 'Despite that, impact fees have been previously criticized due to the possibility developers would pass the cost of the fees onto customers rather than taking a financial hit — essentially creating a new fee on homeowners in those areas.' End of copy.

This, in my opinion, is where they should belong, not on the shoulders of current citizens.

As to 'the other possibility', 'Why would we want to encumber ourselves with any fees that will be as a 'monthly surcharge on our utility bills'???? That to me is another example of 'what a city/county/state/federal entity is allowed to do and not 'what should be done'. The only ones that it hurts is the residents themselves. If the 'outlying future residents' were to have that additional fee placed upon themselves, it would be one thing, but this adventure will hurt 'all' residents. I say 'no' to the fact that this should be on the developer but not on the city resident.

It's too easy to say, 'Let the kid do it' and add to the woes of the current citizen.

As to the area of 'Solid Waste', it deserves a look at what we will be getting verses what it will do to us, the citizen. I am of the opinion that if it goes through the citizen should get the benefit of the doubt, less money out of the pocket of the citizen, and should be looked at from the standpoint of 'what does the future hold'. What will be the outcome of land fills with the possibility of collecting the C1 and C2 gasses which can then be used for say power generation thus not going to pollute our atmosphere. And it is used for such purposes, some allowance for all should be included.

There should be some consideration as to what will be done for current employees.

Now there is a good example of 'who is going to use that road' and 'who is going to be a use tax on that particular roadway'. It should not pb a burden placed upon the shoulders of the citizen.

The payment of a franchise fee should be 'all inclusive' of the above mentioned entities and also the rental of the city's waste transfer station should be on an 'as is basis and not subject this city to any future charges whatsoever'.

As already discussed previously, this council has already encumbered this city starting in 2020 I think it is for $140,000 dollars annually for the maintenance of approximately 90 acres whether it is developed or not. In my opinion, 'bad move' for encumbering this city not knowing just what this city's long term objectives is.

Maybe the council's objectives are for the total encumbrance of both the city's objectives of roadways for the extension and improvement of outside of this city boundaries, to the tune of $46 million dollars and the school's upcoming $426 million dollar indenture for this city to absorb. It's too bad that this city administration does not 'take the citizens of this city into it's confidence in projecting plans for this city, but alas it is not so. So I will vote 'no' on these two enterprises, the $46 million dollar roadway extension and the $426 million dollar school bond issue.

I still am of the opinion that this city structure and this school structure should work with it's citizens and should endeavor to use what this city has allotted for it's maintenance and future assessments will be and not the suppositions of a school board. The use of a school board should be annual assignment of existing funds that the city is allowing, including the all encompassing maintenance and upkeep of existing structures and facilities.

The same holds true for the city itself and should ensure that the existing, all encompassing annual budget is within the framework of an all encompassing framework of the last year's budget, or to say it another way, if such expenditures is going to be outside of the annual budget, this city should call it to the attention of it's citizens to vote on just what is to be considered inviolate.

Copy: 'The city already levies one of the highest property tax rates of comparable Texas municipalities, and a new bond issue would almost certainly come with a corresponding tax hike. That increase would add to the district’s property tax increase if its proposed bond passes.'
Continuation of copy: 'The council is expected to discuss a possible bond early in January and could decide to add other projects onto its bond referendum at the council’s request.' End of copy.

As to these measures, it is the responsibility of this council to only adsorb those plans that benefit this city and not those of individual builders and/or real estate entities may desire.

I will vote 'no' on these measures.

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 4.58 % who voted.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.