By Chris McGuinness

Killeen Daily Herald

HARKER HEIGHTS - If you blinked, you might have missed the Harker Heights City Council's unanimous vote to pass the fiscal year 2011-12 budget during its regular meeting Tuesday.

The council approved the budget at a meeting that lasted less than an hour, and despite offering the public a chance to voice their opinions, no one opted to comment during the open forum.

The budget's general fund revenues are projected at $16,848,600, and expenditures are budgeted for $16,711,400. Ad valorem property taxes make up the largest revenue source in the budget, and are projected to bring in $6.7 million in tax revenue for maintenance and operations.

The city's biggest projected expenditure is employee salary and benefits, which totals $12,014,100 and includes a 3 percent salary adjustment for all employees beginning Oct. 1.

The city saw an increase of $372,400 in budgeted expenditures from the previous fiscal year's budget, according to Finance Director Alberta Barrett.

While expenditures increased, the council voted to keep the property tax rate at 67.7 cents per $100 in assessed property value. Barrett said she estimated the tax rate had not been raised for the past 10 years.

Councilman Pat Christ said the decision not to raise taxes may have contributed to the brevity of the meeting.

"I think if we raised taxes, it would have been a different story," Christ said. "The meeting would have gone on a lot longer."

In addition to voting on the budget and property taxes, the council also approved rates and fees.

Changes included adding temporary-use permit fees, graffiti abatement fees and raising fire hydrant meter deposits from $650 to $750.

The council held a workshop following the regular meeting to discuss adding a five-foot sidewalk along the south side of Mountain Lion Road between Modoc Drive and the city limits.

Public Works Director Mark Hyde presented the council with a $20,200 quote from Walker Partners Engineering firm for the work.

Hyde said the work would be an addition to a 2004 collaboration between the cities of Harker Heights and Killeen to connect Mountain Lion Road with Stagecoach Road.

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