A monthslong debate over the city’s responsibility for sewer service line repairs will come to a head Tuesday during the Killeen City Council’s workshop.
At issue is a city policy that requires homeowners to pay for repairs to private lines that cross over private property lines to connect to public sewer mains under city streets.
On Aug. 7, the council directed the city to draft an ordinance to formalize its longstanding policy, but the council has flirted with expanding the city’s responsibility for those repairs, which can reach as high as $25,000, according to some homeowners.
On Tuesday, Director of Public Works David Olson laid out three options the council could consider to help aid homeowners, including entering into warranty programs for homeowners to help pay for emergency repairs and accepting some or all of the maintenance and repair of service lines.
Among the options up for council consideration:
Provide an optional or mandatory warranty program through a private provider that could cost residents anywhere in the range of $7.75 to 50 cents per month, depending on the option. This path would continue the city’s policy of denying responsibility for repairs in the right-of-way.
Accept responsibility for repairs up to the public property line. Olson said this would likely cause a necessary sewer rate increase citywide of between 75 cents and $1.80, regardless of whether you have the problem.
Accept responsibility for the entire sewer service line. This option would likely require a sewer rate increase citywide of $4.80 regardless of whether you have the problem.
The council is expected to make a “motion of direction” at its workshop Tuesday that will be folded into the ordinance for a vote at a later date. Two council members, Shirley Fleming and Steve Harris, have indicated they favor the city accepting responsibility for the repairs rather than opting into a warranty program.
In other business, the council will receive a briefing on a “street maintenance fee” on resident and commercial water bills to help pay for the city of Killeen’s multimillion-dollar road repair deficit each year.
On July 17, the council voted to delay discussion on the controversial fee, which the city estimates would add more than $6 to a single-family home’s water bill each month, at the highest estimate.
By establishing a separate fund for street maintenance, the city said an overburdened operational fund would receive some breathing room as property tax revenues remain constrained each year. If the city does not institute the fee, the other options are attempting to raise property taxes by around 2 cents or cutting expenditures in the general fund, which could mean the elimination of city positions, the city said.
The street fee, which has been voted down twice by the council in recent years, would help counteract ballooning deferred maintenance costs that have been woefully underfunded in past city budgets.
In fiscal year 2018, the council allocated $300,000 in funding for street maintenance — around $1.6 million less than the recommended amount, according a 2013 road infrastructure study from Transmap. That continued underfunding has left some roads in older stretches of Killeen in increasing disrepair and has exponentially raised the cost of preventing major infrastructure failure.
The council’s workshop will begin at 5 p.m. at the Utilities Collection Building, 210 W. Avenue C.
Also on the agenda, the council will:
Discuss a rezoning request for a 216-unit, three-story apartment complex on a 31-acre plot west of Rosewood Drive and directly adjacent to a single-family residential neighborhood along Acorn Creek Trail. Sixteen of those acres would be developed while the remaining 15 acres would be used for green space and trail connectivity, according to a city memo.
Discuss a rezoning request from WB Development for 47 new duplexes and 167 new single-family homes on the eastern frontage of Roy Reynolds Drive across from the Killeen Business Park. The request would change change an undeveloped 45-acre parcel primarily designated for a mobile home park to a planned unit development with multiple residential uses.