As Killeen city officials are taking steps to prevent the coronavirus from spreading to city employees and the public, they are taking action on the city’s finances — both present and future.

As of Saturday, Killeen had nine confirmed cases: five women and four men. The women’s ages covered five decades: 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s. Of the men, two were in their 40s and one each was in his 30s and 60s.

In Bell County, there are a total of 28 confirmed cases and one person had died. On March 18, Bell County Judge David Blackburn issued a disaster declaration. Two hours later, Mayor Jose Segarra issued the same order citywide. City Attorney Traci Briggs said the reason behind the city issuing a separate declaration is to receive federal funding on a municipal level should a disaster arise.

Both Blackburn and Segarra have since issued three directives under the declarations including a shelter-at-home order. Updates to the directives Friday put the shelter-at-home order through April 6.

On Tuesday, the Killeen City Council received an update from City Manager Kent Cagle. Cagle broke down on what is next to come for the city.

CITY BUDGET

Before the coronavirus pandemic, city staff was working internally on the FY21 budget with a plan to go public by July.

“We are still in budget development and remain on schedule for budget adoption in September,” Cagle told the Herald via email on March 25. “The current financial position of the city is strong.”

He also said his budget concerns before the pandemic were “addressing compensation and maintain infrastructure and assets with limited resources.”

For FY20, $86.6 million was dedicated to the general operating fund. Of the operating budget, 68% goes to salaries and 8% goes to debt.

The estimated numbers for FY21 were not available as of Wednesday, said Communications Director Hilary Shine.

Cagle said he expects the hotel/motel and airport revenues “to drop drastically, hopefully (only) for a short period of time.”

The hotel occupancy tax revenue goes into its own enterprise fund that funds the civic and conference center and the city's convention and visitor's bureau. Airport revenues fund the city’s airport enterprise fund.

In FY19, the city estimated actual revenue was $2.6 million in hotel occupancy tax revenue, and it budgeted about the same for FY2020

In FY19, the city received $3 million in airport revenue and estimated $3.6 million would be received in FY2020.

“Our sales tax, one of our major revenues, probably will decline as well but not so severely,” Cagle said on Tuesday. “We really won’t know the results for a couple of months because there is a two-month lag in reporting sales tax.”

In FY19, the city had $25.7 million in sales tax revenue, and it budgeted $25.7 million for FY2020.

The city is responding financially to the pandemic by freezing its hiring except public safety positions and either “canceling or postponing discretionary contracts or travel.”

“We do not plan to spend more than is budgeted, but there will likely be a shift in account spending to support necessary operations,” Cagle said in his email.

Shine said that might be for overtime expenses for emergency operations.

Currently, there are three full-time open positions and nine seasonal positions, according to the city’s website. The Killeen Police Department has 27 vacancies.

Jonathan Locke, Killeen’s executive director of finance, provided information on the city’s operating budget reserve, or savings, account.

“The General Fund finished FY 2019 with an unassigned fund balance of $19.9 million, which is 23% of the General Fund’s fiscal year 2020 adopted expenditure budget. If the adopted expenditure budget were annualized, operating reserves would cover 2.75 months of budgeted expenditures. This assumes there is no other revenue source and no measures were taken to reduce expenditures.”

CITY OPERATIONS

Cagle told the Herald that city operations will continue and “have limited public access to most facilities.”

“The real impacts will be determined by how long the shutdown lasts. Short-term declines may be managed, but long-term declines will create significant difficulties,” he said.

Under the latest directive, day-to-day city operations fall under the essential government functions guidelines which state they can “be performed in compliance with social distancing requirements of 6 feet.”

The council voted to have meetings every two weeks for the month of April — the 14th and 28th. Segarra said it would be a combined “workshop and meeting.”

There is also no interruption in water and sewer services along with curbside trash pickup. For those who are delinquent, Cagle said the utility department will work on an “individual basis.”

The following city services’ status as of Wednesday:

Killeen Animal Shelter is closed to the public, and adoption services have been suspended. Animal control issues can be reported to 254-526-4455.

Killeen Main Library and Copper Mountain Branch are closed and curbside pickup discontinued. Online resources are available at killeentexas.gov/libraries.

Public safety will still respond to 9-1-1 calls.

Tickets will still be issued for municipal court violations by mail, phone or online. Court cases scheduled March 16 through May 1 are canceled and will be rescheduled.

Both Skylark and Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport are still open, however, passengers should consult airlines for flight information.

The city also has a COVID-19 hotline available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday — 254-616-3209. Library staff is manning the hotline, Cagle said.

There is also a frequently-asked questions page on the city’s website to clarify what the shelter-at-home order means for Killeen residents.

“Clearly, city staff is concerned about their own well-being and that of their families, but they understand there is a job to do,” Cagle said in his email. “We provide essential services, and that hasn’t change. What has changed is a shift toward conducting business remotely.”

Segarra said residents have been responding to the new measures positively.

“The constituents have been very supportive and understanding because of the situation. Most of the people have questions about city services, business openings and other questions related to the situation. Our goal is to be responsive to them as quickly as possible.”

Monique Brand - Killeen Daily Herald

mbrand@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7567

Locations

City Hall Reporter

Monique 'Mo' Brand joined the Herald in May 2019. Before that, she covered border coverage and county government in Arizona. She also worked as a reporter in Kerrville, Los Angeles, and Norfolk Virginia. The U.S. Navy veteran grew up in Killeen.

(8) comments

Binya

I need obtain a Texas Drivers license, my current one is from CA expired but have a military extension which makes it active. Can I wait until the stay is lifted?

VetA42

I have read that Texas Public Safety Department has adjusted the time limits for much of their operations for licensing. You should be able to find a factual answer on TX Government Website for Your concern Hope this helps

RMW

As to KISD, the administration is working, the teachers are working and the students are working. The students have online work to do daily. They have tests to pass before they can move forward. Even my youngest grandson,who is in pretty k,has work to do from home. I think KISD is doing everything possible to keep the education of our children front and center in this difficult and unusual situation.

Alvin

First I would like to say that 'There is too much information being broadcast that the public is not concerned with and that is of a general nature but not of a specific basis'.

With this latest outbreak, the gist of the information is, 'We have to take care of small business, and it's hammered on Small business, Small business, even before we knew the extent of what effect it was/would it was going to be'.

Copy - Headline: 'Killeen city manager, mayor talk next steps in COVID-19 crisis'. End of copy.

Now what did the city Mayor say that was not a repeat of conditions as they were a week ago. The City Manager had a few words, and of course Hillary Shine had a few words, but in essence, it was the same words of 'Be politically correct in that you should keep the correct spacing of 6' minimum when you conduct your business at all times'.

Copy: 'Segarra said residents have been responding to the new measures positively'. End of copy.

And that is the comment that Segarra eluded to.

Copy: 'Cagle said in his email. “We provide essential services, and that hasn’t change. What has changed is a shift toward conducting business remotely.” End of copy.

Conducting business remotely. What I want to know is 'Why this city has not addressed the May 2, 2020 vote that could be carried out by mail that has not been discussed not even once but has been brought up many times. This city council, the mayor, nor the city manager apparently 'Refuses' to openly discuss this matter and I would like to know 'WHY'. It has been completed numerous times in the past. It has been completed numerous times in regards to senior citizens so why can it not be completed in a city wide election instead of 'delaying the vote and causing animosity among it's citizens. It's the same way as it's always been, 'If it is something the City does not want to talk about, just ignore the question'. Well I for one want the question answered, 'Why does the City choose to ignore the question of voting by mail in lieu of postponing the vote until November, 2020 thereby ignoring the city charter as to the At Large city council people and the mayor not having any duties beyond May, 2020 as the city charter requires'? This question has apparently not even been proposed much less answered, so please, address this question as to what will be the consequences of not answering this question.

To get back to the question of 'With this latest outbreak, the gist of the information is, 'We have to take care of small business, and it's hammered on Small business, Small business, even before we knew the extent of what effect it was/would it was going to be'. Now why is that? The newspapers are full of it, the broadcast networks are full of it, and now this article says that there has been one (1) death so far, but the internet is saying that 'Fauci warns there could be 200,000 deaths in the US. Now why the disparity, why the conflicting statements being pumped onto the general population, why the disparity that is being fed to the general public, why not 'TELL IT LIKE IT IS' or does the networks not want this to happen. It is happening too much and it is increasing.

So what is the nature of the change as to 'We have to take care of the small business as if this is going to stop the collapse of our economic structure as we know today especially since we have now a general opposition to being in close contact with one another. It seems we have a general distaste for the mingling of the citizenry, just the opposite that we are saying. So what's new.

I do not hold much hope that this latest venture will tend to rebuild America's small business and I fear that with the KISD, the only thing that will take place is the advancement to a higher grade when it will not give credence to the students educational endeavor, they will just pass them on to a higher grade.

So I think that is a lose-lose situation in all avenues. America looses again.

Alvin

the citizenry, just the opposite that we are saying. So what's new.

I do not hold much hope that this latest venture will tend to rebuild America's small business and I fear that with the KISD, the only thing that will take place is the advancement to a higher grade when it will not give credence to the students educational endeavor, they will just pass them on to a higher grade.

So I think that is a lose-lose situation in all avenues. America looses again.

kathy.ball1.kb

My vehicle registration is due. Can I put it off until the stay at home is lifted ? Over 60 and health compromised.

TFRAN074

Yes you can.

Carlaescalante

Yes you will not be pulled over and sanctioned, however please see if you are eligible for online proceeding

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