The Killeen city council will hold a workshop Saturday to discuss the FY 2022 budget in depth, along with a few studies, the 5-year capital improvement’s program, and funding options for road and street maintenance and repair.
The meeting is blocked out from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the main conference room of city hall, but Mayor Jose Segarra is hopeful that it will not be an all-day affair.
“We’re doing one long meeting to try and save our staff from having to do the same presentation multiple times. This meeting lets us stay focused and work together,” Segarra said in a phone interview Thursday.
For Segarra, one major discussion throughout the meeting will be funding sources.
“We contracted assessments of our roads a few years ago and what they found was that we needed to focus more on infrastructure,” Segarra said.
According to City Manager Kent Cagle’s budget in brief, a 2018 assessment identified that $42 million worth of street maintenance would be required to keep streets as-is, and that another $120 million would be required to reconstruct those roads that were “beyond repair.” Further, Winter Storm Uri caused another $40 worth of maintenance needs. Ultimately, the assessment recommended spending $5.9 million annually to for street repair.
With the elevation of the Street Maintenance Fee from $1.70 to $7.00, an additional $5.5 million in projected revenue is expected to help maintain roadways and pay off debt service totaling $60 million in bonds over the next five years, which is the recommendation from the city manager.
“Really, this imitative is about catching up. We’ve been kicking the can down the road for so long and now we have the chance to really start catching up,” Segarra said.
Councilwoman at large Mellisa Brown, however, said in an email exchange Thursday that if all of the proposed changes are made to the bill, “we might need to discuss setting aside money to assist low income households.”
Iniatives like the one proposed often take years to pass, however. Segarra recalled how it took five years to pass the previous increase to $1.30.
“I really hope the council approves this measure, but I’ve seen councils support initiatives right up until the vote. I think this is a good council, but we’ll have to see if they’ve got the will,” Segarra said.
Another important topic for the meeting will be the use of some $29.1 million awarded to the city of Killeen from the American Rescue Plan Act.
“I think the ARPA funds will be the longest and most productive discussion since the proposed budget that was presented only includes a little over $3 million of the approved funds,” Brown said.
The proposed budget allocates some funding for a 4% increase in cost of living expenses, which is paid for in the first year by ARPA funding. After the first year, however, ARPA funding is reduced by 50% and the rest of the cost is subsumed into the general fund.
Killeen has until Dec. 31, 2024 to commit all $29.1 million in ARPA funds before they expire. Multi-year infrastructure projects have an extended payment deadline of Dec. 31, 2026, so long as they have been committed to by Dec. 31, 2024.
Additional topics for the meeting also include a pair of studies regarding the water and sewer rate, and the solid waste rate, as well as the 5-year capital improvements program.