Killeen city council

Killeen City Council members discuss an airport rehabilitation project during a workshop meeting at Killeen City Hall on June 15, 2021.

Killeen city officials have released the proposed fiscal year 2022 city budget, and the Killeen City Council is expected hear more about it and discuss it at a public meeting Tuesday at City Hall.

At $244.7 million, the proposed budget is $40 million larger than the 2021 budget. Officially proposed by City Manager Kent Cagle, the budget requests $278,049,081 in total appropriations to serve an estimated population of 160,641 Killeen residents. This includes $201,275,115 in operations, $51,737,518 for capital projects, and $25,036,448 for debt service requirements.

The proposed budget allocates some $244.7 million in total expenses, with $240.5 million in revenue, which is 6.1%, higher than last year.

Capital expenses for the entire proposed budget include public safety at $67.8 million, which comprises approximately 27% of general fund services, $40.6 million for water and sewer utilities, which makes up 17% of the budget, and $36.5 million transportation and streets maintenance fees, which makes up another 15%.

Taxes & Service charges

Taxes make up 74% of estimated and projected revenue, with property and sales taxes making up the majority of income. The Mixed Beverage and Bingo tax was the least profitable, making up only 0.04% of tax revenue.

Also a priority for the proposed budget is a 300% increase in monthly street maintenance fees from $1.70 to $7 per single family equivalent for a revenue increase of $4.3 million — from $1.6 million to $5.9 million. With this new money, the city intends to create a new road-crack seal team, and will use an estimated $5.5 million in revenue to be used for debt service on $60 million of bond issues over the next five years.

Service charges, which includes licensing, ambulance and court fees, are projected to decrease slightly, by about $200,000, or 1.8%.

Additional personnel & Public safety

The budget allows for the addition of 31 full-time equivalent positions, including an ADA compliance officer, a new ambulance crew, and the reinstatement of four positions at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center which had been removed due to COVID-19.

The budget’s proposal of a new nine-member ambulance crew will cost an estimated $748,301, which includes a new ambulance. As part of public safety initiatives, the proposed budget seeks to remount two ambulances and purchase three new “aerial apparatus.”

Other public safety initiatives include a Multifamily Rental Inspection Program, which is intended to inspect dwelling units which consist of five or more units per building, such as apartments, that are “declining due to age, lack of maintenance, and/or have fire safety or reported crime concerns.”

An annual inspection fee will be associated with owners of these multifamily dwelling units. Total annual revenue for the program is expected to be $356,750. This program will also require $424,000 in startup costs for new vehicles and equipment, as well as another $460,996 annual cost for personnel.

Public safety has a total listed budget request of $62,749,530.

Property Tax

The budget proposal claims a 14.92% increase in total property valuation for Killeen, from $8.6 to $9.8 billion.

The city partially justifies its increased budget through a $5.9 million revenue increase, in part due to a quoted $5.2 million sales tax revenue spike and an increased $3.8 million in property tax.

Moreover, the proposed budget cites a $3.3 million reduction from the coronavirus relief funds received in 2021, and an estimated $2.1 million reduction in state reimbursement of the disabled veteran exemption. This exemption accounts for a loss of some $8.5 million in potential revenue from approximately $1.2 billion in property, and was a topic of discussion at the last city council meeting.

The city accounts for a 10% increase of taxable property to a total of $7.6 billion, which includes approximately $158 million in new property growth since 2020.

Arts & recreation services

Arts funding was the center of controversy last year when the FY 21 budget set funding for the Killeen Arts Commission to zero dollars.

This was at least in part due to COVID-19 related reductions in revenue from the Hotel Occupancy Fund, which is responsible for funding visitation and tourism projects, including the arts. After a city workshop, however, the council had voted unanimously to consider alternative funding for the KAC, at $85,000.

This year, arts funding has returned to normal, with $229,622 in the proposed budget. It will be funded through the Hotel Occupancy Tax.

Recreation services, which includes city parks, animal services and “senior citizens,” have increased from $7.4 million to $8 million, a positive change of about 8.2%.

Recreation services and programs were another topic of discussion at the last city council meeting.

Pay raise

The proposed budget includes a 3.5% increase in pay for non-civil service employees and a 4% increase for public safety civil service employees. Public safety civil service employees, including those in the fire and police departments, will receive step increases in pay, which will be felt most fully by those at the bottom of the pay scale as the city intends to increase the minimum wage of classified employees from $10.86 to $13.47.

The city intends to use the coronavirus relief fund as an initial supplement to help pay for increased pay, but will phase in general fund usage as the fund expires. Any employees that would fall below the new minimum wage will be moved up to the $13.47 hourly wage.

Council meetings

There are back-to-back City Council meetings set for Tuesday, in the City Hall council chambers.

The first meeting, which begins at 3 p.m, will begin with a discussion of governing standards and expectations, and will move onto commercial camera use.

Police hiring and retention will be the next topic, and the meeting will end with a presentation regarding the FY 21 arts commission budget, the Bell county downtown facility, and an overview of the FY 2022 proposed budget. Councilwoman Melissa Brown is expected to request that the council move to commit to a discussion of youth facility assistance in future meetings.

Immediately after the special workshop, Mayor Jose Segarra is expected to call a regular City Council meeting.

The first order of business will be to set July 27 as the public hearing date for the FY 2022 budget.

The council is expected to consider memoranda regarding the approvement of Janelle J. Lewis Ford as the executive director of communications, who is expected to replace the retiring Hilary Shine, a memorandum to transfer police service dog Jaxx and other topics.

The council is also expected to consider several budget requests:

$348,650 contract with COBAN Technologies to purchase new body cameras on a five-year service warranty.

$300,000 worth of new protective fire equipment from the North American Fire Equipment Company.

The council is also expected to consider several contracts:

a resolution to pay Lockton Dunning Benefits $95,000 for consultation fees.

a professional services agreement with Garver, LLC, for construction administration/management of the Replacement of Terminal Capital Equipment System at Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport, in the amount of $200,000.

The council will also appoint the council members to various committees.

Finally, the council will consider several requests from the planning and zoning committee to rezone several areas of Killeen.

jdowling@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7552

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