City officials recently visited the nation’s capital to discuss issues prevalent to Killeen with the area’s elected officials, a visit Mayor Dan Corbin said was “the best that we’ve ever had.”
Corbin and City Manager Glenn Morrison met with U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock; U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin; Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. John Crutchfield, Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce president, and retired Col. Bill Parry, executive director of the Heart of Texas Defense Alliance, accompanied Corbin and Morrison on the trip.
“Of all my trips to Washington, D.C., the reception we got from all four of the elected officials was the best that we’ve ever had,” Corbin said. “Not only were they very attentive and concerned with our concerns, it was really a very pleasant experience to be in that environment where I thought we were listened to. I thought that we were respected and that they were trying to help us.”
Corbin said the group discussed an array of issues from base realignment and closure to public safety and getting U.S. Highway 190 designated as an interstate highway.
“We believe that if there was a realignment at some of the bases, and they got rid of inefficient bases, that (Fort Hood) would have a very high likelihood of picking up some of those people here because our cost of living is low (and) we have affordable housing,” he said. “We have a lot of advantages in this community as compared to other parts of the United States.”
Corbin said the group also explained to the congressmen and senators the dilemma Killeen faces as a military community.
“They were well aware of the fact that we get (federal) Impact Aid for our school districts because of the lack of a tax base in our community,” he said. “We don’t receive a similar sort of Impact Aid in municipal government like the school district does.”
Corbin said about 10 percent of Killeen’s population is exempt from paying property taxes because they are disabled veterans.
“We are very friendly to veterans and veteran issues, and we want to support that. But whenever someone doesn’t have to pay, city government goes on,” he said. “That means other people pay more.”
Corbin said the group requested the elected officials “tweak the formula” to give more points to military communities in regard to grant funding for police officers and firefighters.
The group also explained the importance of having U.S. 190 designated as an interstate highway.
“When (businesses) see we’re not on the interstate, the conversation ends,” Corbin said. “People don’t want to locate if there’s no interstate highway. We were very encouraged by their strong support for that.”
Morrison said visiting elected officials in Washington is critical to Killeen’s federal legislative priorities.
“Many decisions that affect our local economy are made in Washington, D.C.,” he said.
“It’s extremely important that we develop and maintain relationships with our elected officials and their staffs to ensure our community’s needs are considered and prioritized at the federal level.”