By Lisa Soule
Killeen Daily Herald
NOLANVILLE Mayor Mike Carter told concerned residents Thursday that many of the citys budget woes were out of its control.
Carter blamed the Plaza Water District fiasco and a rezoning move by the Killeen Independent School District for causing a dip in property values and collections.
Council members heard from the public in the first of three public hearings on the citys upcoming budget.
Carter projected next years revenues at $873,700. Expenses, estimated at $1,047,329, exceed projected income by $173,629.
The budget lists an estimated income from property tax at $170,000. Carter noted that besides a dip in property tax, franchise and sanitation fees were also down.
Councilman Cecil Carroll said 52 people have moved out of the Plaza Water District since rates skyrocketed after a series of management missteps.
Carter said he could not put a figure to how many families may have moved after a school district decision to send students living north of U.S. Highway 190 to Killeen High School rather than Harker Heights High School.
Councilman Anthony Wil-liams also blamed inclement weather for slowing planned construction. Developers are dragging their feet on high-end homes, Williams said.
But among all the gloom, Williams said there is a light at the end of the tunnel and progress is now being made in all areas.
Although the council did not discuss a proposed tax rate, it did present figures from the Bell County Appraisal Office showing the effective tax rate. The effective rate, or the amount the city would need to charge to collect the same taxes as the previous year, is 39 cents per $100 valuation. That is one cent higher than the current rate.
Bottom line, taxes have to go up, Carter said.
The budget, with its unbudgeted expenses of $173,629, didnt sit well with some residents.
Mary Pena criticized the plan along with current city services. Pena urged Carter to chisel away at the projected expenses and asked if the city was in debt.
Carter confirmed that it was.
You start cutting or were going to sink, Pena said.
That depends on your definition of sink, Carter said. Owing money or having services.
One expense the city has immediately cut is about a $30,000 annual expense to pay a city administrator.
Carter reported that Candee Rose had resigned her position to seek further employment.
Her duties will be divided between the current city secretary, Christine Taylor, and city planner Darryl Holmes.
Carter said the city will not hire anyone to fill the position.
A second public hearing on the city budget is set for 7 p.m. Thursday at the J.W. Sims Community Center.
In other business, the council approved naming the service road along Highway 190 the Phillip Nolan Expressway, after the towns namesake.
Contact Lisa Soule at firstname.lastname@example.org