HARKER HEIGHTS — As the city’s fiscal year 2014 budget proposal looms three weeks ahead, representatives of four local organizations Tuesday asked the city for funding.

HOP Director of Urban Operations Robert Ator requested more than $25,200 for bus operation and maintenance, and Friends of Texas A&M University-Central Texas Chairman Bobby Hoxworth requested $50,000 for scholarships.

Additionally, Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce President John Crutchfield asked for funding for a solar energy test project at the A&M-Central Texas campus, and Clements Boys & Girls Club Resource Development Director Francie Charles asked for $50,000 to continue programs.

The council is tentatively scheduled to review a proposed fiscal 2014 budget July 30, and adopt one Sept. 3.

In addition to disability vehicles, three regular HOP routes service Harker Heights, including a city circulator and Copperas Cove-to-Temple connector, Ator said. The HOP draws 80 percent of its funds from federal sources, and 20 percent from local sources.

Between 2011 and May 2013, ridership increased from 11.5 to 14.1 passengers an hour, Ator said.

Councilman Hal Schiffman asked what happened in April, which accounted for eight of 14 HOP accidents, and 31 of 87 road calls this year. “We’ll come up with a month like that once or twice a year,” Ator said. “We didn’t have anything in particular that pointed to a reason for that. ... We have other months that have exceptionally high ridership.”

Hoxworth asked for funding amid a projected $150,000 increase in scholarships from academic year 2012-2013, bringing 2013-14’s total to $450,850.

University documents stated the school educated 340 students from Harker Heights during the spring 2013 semester, 10 percent of the student body. From fall 2009 through summer 2012, 197 Heights graduates and undergraduates earned degrees.

The university doesn’t have a growing scholarship endowment as it builds self-sustaining facilities, Hoxworth said.

Construction for a 500-acre solar energy project on A&M-Central Texas land could begin within 90 days, Crutchfield said. One hundred scientists will have one acre each to test solar technology, which should draw venture capitalist investment, he said. Successful technologies could receive financial support and be sold on a grand scale.

Charles said the Clements Boys & Girls Club has exceeded its 2009 goal of 200 members for Union Grove and Eastern Hills middle schools, as the chapter boasts 800 combined members from those schools and Harker Heights High School.

Club costs include the $260,000 total operating budget for the middle schools.

City Manager Steve Carpenter is scheduled to present the budget proposal at the council’s July 30 council workshop.

Contact Brian Bradley at bbradley@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7567

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