There were more questions than answers Tuesday during a Killeen City Council discussion on adopting an ordinance that could free homeowners from costly repairs to sewer service lines in the public right-of-way.
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 city used Tuesday’s session as an opportunity to field questions from the council on the three options presented with the intent of asking for a formal direction from council members at a workshop Tuesday.
The council will discuss adopting an ordinance at a later workshop.
In other business, the council approved a rezoning for a 179-home subdivision on the eastern frontage of Bunny Trail and undeveloped Mohawk Drive during a meeting before the workshop.
The long-delayed rezoning proposal was brought before the council after city staff indicated the developer had reached a tentative agreement to pay for minimum improvement to Mohawk Drive as part of a “city-owner,” or infrastructure upsizing, agreement.
The council approved the rezoning 4-3 with council members Debbie Nash-King, Hugh “Butch” Menking and Juan Rivera and Mayor Pro Tem Jim Kilpatrick in support.
The dissenting council members, Shirley Fleming, Steve Harris and Gregory Johnson, said they couldn’t vote in favor of the rezoning until the city had assurances the developer would help fund the road, which would help alleviate traffic off the Alamocitos Creek area, which residents have long complained is gridlocked around two area schools.
“Until something is locked in, I cannot approve this at this time,” Harris said.
Killeen City Manager Ron Olson said he believed the only way Mohawk would be improved in the near future would be if a developer helped the foot the bill. He told the council if they approved the rezoning, it would be with the intent of approving the city-developer agreement at a later date.
“What I don’t want to see is the council approving the rezoning and then disapproving the city’s contribution to do the road,” Olson said. If you don’t want the road, don’t do the zoning.”