The Killeen City Council narrowly approved a measure Tuesday to allocate funding of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Texas phase 2 development, which includes a new gymnasium and community mental health counseling center.
The measure allocates $750,000 through the American Rescue Plan Act — a national debt-relief fund passed by Congress in March. Killeen received a total of $29 million in funds for use on anything COVID-19 related — which includes rent relief, salary relief including overtime and community development.
One of 36 potential packages, the $750,000 grant was an opportunity for the city to “double its investment,” according to Daniel Hall, vice president of Resource Development for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Texas.
The passage of the measure, though tentative, has given Bell County the green light to move forward with the allocation of an additional $750,000.
The council had failed to approve the measure last week when a motion of direction to allocate the funds was shut down by a 3-4 vote. Opponents of the measure said that the motion was premature, citing a need to reexamine council’s priorities.
“The Boys & Girls Club does a lot for the community and fills in the gap that we as the city can’t cover, like child care,” Wilkerson said Saturday. “But we also have other priorities that we’ve been promising to address for years. We paid $170,000 for our parks master plan and we have an opportunity to bring it to fruition.”
Wilkerson did not waver from his previous statement, as he urged city council to evaluate its priorities instead of making the measure the top item of discussion.
Several residents spoke in favor of the measure Tuesday, including Killeen resident Leo Gukeisen.
“For a long period of time, council has been talking about revitalizing our downtown, and this is one way to do that,” he said.
Councilwoman Nina Cobb, who was the deciding vote, also spoke to the merits of the program as she shifted her vote in favor of the measure.
Councilman Michael Boyd again offered an alternative funding of $250,000, which failed to receive a second.
After lengthy discussion, Councilwoman Mellisa Brown’s a motion of direction to allocate $750,000 of American Recovery Plan Act funding to the club, passed with a vote of 4-3, with council members Michael Boyd, Ken Wilkerson, and Rick Williams voting in opposition, and Mellisa Brown, Jessica Gonzalez, Nina Cobb, and Mayor Pro Tem Debbie Nash-King voting in approval.