City Manager Kent Cagle officially presented the proposed Fiscal Year 2022 budget at the Killeen City Council workshop Tuesday, a week later than planned.
The presentation was delayed by a week due to city council failing to meet quorum on July 6.
Cagle presented the $244.7 million budget while fielding questions from council members. Mayor Pro Tem Debbie Nash-King was not in attendance.
Cagle first drew comparisons between Killeen and “similar cities,” which he described as cities that were either near a military installation, close to Killeen in population, or were nearby.
“Killeen just does not perform particularly well when compared to similar cities,” Cagle said.
According to Cagle’s presentation, the median household income for Killeen in 2019 was $49,630, which placed it second to last, just under the $50,453 median income of Lubbock, and far from Round Rock’s $82,676.
What Killeen does have going for it, however, is cost.
“Killeen is a very inexpensive city,” Cagle said.
According to Cagle, the average cost per capita for Killeen is $1,516, making it the fourth least expensive city to maintain per capita among its peers.
As he moved through the overview, however, Cagle stopped to draw particular attention to the 100% disabled veterans property tax exemption, which he described as a “significant issue.”
Cagle said total property covered by the disabled veterans exemption equates to around $1.2 billion — or 19.4% in non-taxable property for the city, and accounts for a loss of about $8.5 million. The state does, however, reimburse an estimated $3 million of exemptions, for a net loss of $5.5 million.
Sales taxes and street maintenance taxes, however, may help to make up the difference. According to Cagle, sales taxes saw “extreme growth,” increasing significantly from FY 2020, and even the most conservative estimate shows an increase of 1.5%.
Personell, Salary Changes
One substantial increase to the budget, however, was the addition of personnel, as well as salary changes. Cagle proposed the addition of 31 new positions across city government. 16 positions, which include a new amublance crew and building inspectors, are reserved for public safety initiatives, while six are for a new street crack sealing crew, four positions are reinstatements, four assist with solid waste disposal, and one position is in fulfillment of the Department of Justice’s requirement that Killeen appoint an ADA compliance manager.
Additionally, Cagle proposed what he called “important” Cost of Loving Adjustment (COLA). The proposed initiative would increase the average salary for civil servants and public safety workers by 4% on average.
The proposal would create a new pay floor of $13.47 from $10.86, increasing the nine pay scales on a declining scale from 24% at the bottom to just 4% at the top.
Cagle’s proposal includes an additional $2 in premium pay. The proposal will be funded 100% by the American Rescue Plan Act for the first year, and 50% in the second year as it eventually depletes ARPA funds and is fully integrated into general fund costs.
Street maintenance fees are also expected to increase as Cagle proposed a $5.30 increase to the street maintenance tax —an adjustment from $1.70 to $7.
According to Cagle, $2 of the $5.30 increase is intended to be used for street maintenance only, and not for new road construction.
“We’ll be able to use revenue from the $2 increase to replace roads, but it is not intended to build new ones,” Cagle said.
City council members did not publicly object to the proposed fee increase.
Finally, Councilwoman Mellisa Brown asked Cagle about the possibility of Killeen funding its own public water infrastructure.
“I’m concerned because it seems like we have to pay three times for our water,” Brown said. “We pay for the right to access it, we pay for the water, and then we pay for the treatment. It just seems like there’s a better way.”
Cagle responded that it was “unlikely” that Killeen would be able to justify such a plan.
Chief expenses for the budget are 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 in transportation and streets maintenance fees, which makes up another 15%.
The workshop concluded with a successful motion of direction from Brown, which requires the council to visit the topic of assisting the growth of youth facilities in future agendas.
Specifically, Brown said that she was in talks with the Boys and Girls Club and Bell County government to secure funding for the Phase 2 of the Boys and Girls Club development, which Brown described as a new facility that would include a gym, classrooms, and directed programs.
“Approval of this topic would encourage the county to commit funding towards the Boys and Girls Club,” Brown said.
- July 17 Hold special city council workshop to dive into budget line items
- July 21 First public forum regarding the budget
- July 27 Public budget hearing regarding the budget, city council meeting
- August 3 Proposed tax rate is voted on
- September 7 Second public forum regarding the budget
- September 27 Tax rate public hearing and adoption, budget adoption