To the Editor:
The City of Killeen has a lot going for it and I love my city. The city also has a problem with planning for the future. Recently we passed a new transportation fee to pay for our rapidly deteriorating streets. I supported this fee, despite being in general against using fees to fix what should have been budgeted for in the first place. Why did I support the fee? I did so because the majority of the City Council folks had priorities other than fixing our streets. And since the vast majority of citizens use and rely upon this basic infrastructure to go about their daily lives. And since the city did not seem particularly interested in fixing the streets (as shown by the priority assigned in the budget), something had to be done.
During the recent months, there has been a push for a longer-term warranty for our streets in order to have the builder assume responsibility for substandard work. Excellent idea! However, we have a bit of a problem with holding the builder responsible. During recent council meetings, we found out that the builders are more than likely actually meeting the standards required by their contract with the city. The real problem appears to be that the city has set different standards for different streets, i.e. major arterials are built to a higher standard and local streets are built to a much lower standard.
This lower standard almost guarantees an early failure of streets built to it.
Making this problem even more serious is the erroneous belief that the city can expand its way out of the problem. There are two major flaws in this policy. The first error is that expansion is a guarantee of more revenue. Unfortunately, when we annex residential property, or raw land on which homes will be built, it is a net loss to the city.
The builder, of course, is allowed to build on his property whether it is annexed or not. We also know that the standards for building in the county are even lower than the city standards. Why would the builder want to be annexed? Not hard to figure when you realize that after annexation the city is responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the infrastructure in the annexed property. Not to mention there is the possibility of a city/builder agreement where the city actually pays to improve the residential property for the builder’s profit.
The next flaw I see is that some folks seem to have forgotten that Killeen is a one-trick pony!
Much as some folks would prefer we not be, the hard fact is that Killeen is an Army town. There may come a day when Fort Hood is not the prime mover in our economy. Until that unlikely situation comes around, it might be a good idea to keep the Army happy. Instead, we are being asked to annex property right up against the post boundry, potentially creating restraint of training. There was a recent Joint Land Use Study (JLUS) performed here.
The Army does not spend money on studies unless they see a major problem with that subject area. I attended these public meetings and contrary to the conclusions of some on the City Council, all is not sweetness and light. I am also aware that some folks think that Fort Hood will always be here. To those folks, I refer to the map of Montana.
James “Jack” Ralston