By Kevin M. Smith

Killeen Daily Herald

Killeen is growing.

In the past 18 years, Killeen's population has increased an estimated 45 percent.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Killeen's population in 1990 was 63,535; in 2000, it was 86,911; and a survey in 2006 estimated the population at 102,003. Killeen City Manager Connie Green estimates the population today to be about 115,000 and growing.

Green, in numerous presentations, said every population projection he has seen indicates Killeen's population will be about 250,000 by 2030.

In March, the U.S. Census Bureau released a report that ranked the Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood region as the 14th fastest-growing metropolitan area in the nation.

In the current fiscal year's budget, the council approved hiring 17 new police officers to keep the ratio of two officers per 1,000 residents.

In this year's budget, Green said to expect the same. In a budget town hall meeting May 23, Green said safety is consistently the No. 1 concern he hears from residents.

"We are aggressively addressing that," Green said.

The largest allocation of the city's budget this year – $19.5 million (32 percent) – went to the police department. Some of that money increased pay to officers and funded new officers. But personnel is not the only big expenditure for the police department. The capital outlay portion of the budget allocated money for the new police headquarters, to be built on Featherline Road on the south side of town. The new police headquarters is expected to open in 2009.

Killeen is growing south: The city annexed about 4,194 acres south of town in January. City officials cited the need to extend Killeen's extraterritorial jurisdiction and accommodate growth as the reasons for annexation.

In a May 28 budget town hall meeting, Green reported the city currently has a population of 115,000 with 38,500 utility customers on 54 square miles.

Killeen is not the only place in Central Texas that's growing. An announcement last December revealed that the Army's largest post will get even bigger. Fort Hood has nearly 47,000 soldiers stationed there, Brig. Gen. Frederick Rudesheim said in a December announcement. He estimated it would be near 50,000 soldiers by 2011. The U.S. Census Bureau reported Fort Hood's population at 33,711 in 2000.

Harker Heights' population was 12,841 in 1990, 17,308 in 2000 and 22,842 in 2006, according to the Census Bureau.

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