Three members of the Killeen City Council responded to a survey sent by the Killeen Daily Herald on Feb. 13 regarding Bell County Municipal Utility District No. 2. The mayor and four council members chose not to respond to the questions.
Killeen City Manager Glenn Morrison sent an email Feb. 13, the same day the questions were sent, advising the council not to respond to the newspaper regarding the MUD because it may be a violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act.
The Open Meetings Act is a law that prohibits elected officials from holding closed-door negotiations over city business.
After speaking with attorneys versed in the law, the newspaper determined responding to the survey is not a violation of the Open Meetings Act and received permission from council members to run the responses.
The survey was designed to help the public understand the complex issue surrounding this major real estate development, which is proposed to be built in the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction.
MUD-2 is planned to be the largest real estate development in Bell County, expected to bring 4,500 homes to an area about 4 miles long and one mile wide.
Council members were also given an opportunity to express broader opinions about urban planning and the future of Killeen’s growth.
1. What will Bell County Municipal Utility District No. 2 cost the residents of Killeen?
At-large Councilman Jonathan Okray: The determination of cost and the responsibility of payment for cost associated with BCMUD-2 cost is ongoing in public discussion.
District 2 Councilman Jose Segarra: The funds to develop a MUD come from private financing issued through bonds that are paid back by an ad valorem tax on all properties in the MUD district and not through the city.
District 3 Councilman Terry Clark: Killeen will not collect any property taxes inside the MUD. The MUD will be a separate taxing entity with authority to collect taxes to service the debt incurred for installing the water, sewer and roadways.
The agreement allows the city to collect fees for water; sewer and solid waste for each installed water meter.
The city is projected to collect $20.5 million in sales tax revenue. Sales tax is used to pay for services in the general fund. The general fund is used to pay for the city’s police and fire departments. The MUD will increase sales tax revenue.
2. How will the MUD benefit the residents of Killeen?
OKRAY: The MUD will benefit the citizens of Killeen because responsibility for providing all services within the boundaries of the MUD and the capital peril, rest solely on majority property owners. I will do my best to ensure that. Being that MUDs have bond and taxing authority, MUD-2 will not imperil the assets and liabilities of the city, for the which citizens are responsible for funding.
SEGARRA: We are still looking at both the minuses and pluses of doing a MUD. I think not having to spend the citizens’ money and having the developer pay for the cost of the development is a big benefit. But we will still need to improve some of the roads that are not within the MUD, so we have to look at those costs and plan accordingly.
CLARK: As the population of the region grows so does commerce. As commercial centers grow the opportunity for employment increases.
As employment opportunities increase then sales tax revenues grow. As sales tax revenues grow then the city can provide a higher level of service to the citizens that live inside the Killeen city limits.
3. To what extent do you think the city government should dictate how this acreage is developed?
OKRAY: MUD-2 will be incorporated into the city at some point in time because of the growth trajectory. Rules, guides and measures contained in current ordinances and plans express the extent and necessary level of city involvement. Ensuring now that the district complement city standards, rather than international standards, is cost effective and prudent.
SEGARRA: I think its important to maintain a certain standard that will help maintain the value of not only homes within the MUD but will improve the overall image of the entire city by having an upscale neighborhood in the city.
CLARK: Any entity that wishes to form a MUD inside the extraterritorial district of a city must first be granted the consent of the city.
The Killeen Comprehensive Plan is not being used as a guide for this development. The plan was adopted the 9th day of November 2010. City Planner (Beverly) Zendt advised that this represented over a year’s work by citizens, staff, and various committees and will guide the city’s growth and development for the next 20 years. The citizens of Killeen expect the city council, as well as the development community to adhere to the language of the comprehensive plan.
4. What is the most important design standard that the city should uphold in its agreement with the developer?
OKRAY: It’s difficult to say what design standards are most important: all of them are. However, if pressed for priority, transportation and infrastructure not seen (water, sewer and drainage) are the standards the city should uphold in its agreement with the developer.
SEGARRA: Even though conforming to a high design standard is important and something we are currently looking at, I think more importantly is that we have something in place for the maintenance and upkeep of those standards. I do not want to see a place that is not maintained once it has been developed and makes not only that area look bad, but the whole city.
CLARK: During my time as a city council member I have listened to the argument for small lots with large houses. I have also studied our community and realized that young families comprise a large part of our population. I believe that this will always be true. Our national warriors will always be the youngest and strongest citizens. Today, Killeen is host to the families of our nation’s fighting force and we will continue to provide the welcoming mat for new families many years in the future.
I would like to see varied lot sizes. The majority of lots should meet the city’s standards.
5. What do you envision for the future of Killeen’s residential landscape?
OKRAY: A safe, sound and durable residential landscape that is occupied by homeowners, wealthy in real estate property value.
SEGARRA: We want Killeen to be a great place to live with positive economic growth and a healthy housing market. I think we will continue to grow and that is good, but we also need to ensure that we are not neglecting what is already here and take steps to improve our current landscape.
CLARK: Chapter 2 of the comprehensive plan is titled “future land use” and near the end of the section, several action strategies have been defined in three sections: basic, intermediate and advance actions.
In the intermediate section, paragraph 5 states: “Establish broader lot size spectrum.”
The council is reading the plan and has amended AR-1 (Agriculture Residential-1) and approved SR-1 (Suburban Residential-1), and the Planning and Zoning Commission is working on the draft version of SR-2.
SR-1 calls for the lot size minimum to be at least 8,400 square feet and provided for larger front and side yard set backs. SR-2 calls for larger lot sizes.
At-Large Councilwoman Elizabeth Blackstone, At-Large Councilman Jared Foster, District 1 Councilman Wayne Gilmore, District 4 Councilman / Mayor Pro Tem Michael Lower and Mayor Dan Corbin did not respond to the Herald’s questions.