KILLEEN, Texas — Killeen is one of the largest cities in Central Texas, but it still makes residents pay for sewer line breaks in the middle of the street. More than a dozen people a year have to pay thousands in repair costs for something other cities such as Waco, Bellmead, Temple, and Belton have the city handle.
Unfortunately, Killeen locals like Tony Stepan don't know about the policy until it's too late. Stepan assumed the city would pay to fix a sewer line break under his street. He found out he was wrong to the tune of more than $8,000.
"I thought it was absolutely ridiculous," Stepan said. “That's a lot of money for anybody to pay."
Will the policy be changed?
Several city council members in Killeen didn't know the sewer line policy existed until the matter come to city council August 7th. City officials said one option to change the policy would be for the city to pay around $200,000 for more workers and a new truck, plus a water rate increase for residents.
There has still been no action on the matter, however, and the Killeen City Council cannot add revenue sources to the budget after the public budget hearing on September 4th. The council has to approve a final budget around September 10th.
Channel 6 tried to reach out to every council member to see if they were going to take any action on the issue before it was too late. Here are the responses we received:
Shirley Fleming - District 1 Council member
"I wish that this could be placed in the budget for funds, and I know we are in a budget crunch, we all know that, but I hope that somewhere, somehow, that the city could work with the community and try to assist us on this, and put this in the budget," Fleming said.
Jim Kilpatrick - District 3 Council member
"My position has, and will continue to be, step back, lets take a breath, this just came up in the last month as a serious consideration, lets not do a knee-jerk reaction and find that we just did something that will bust that budget."
Steve Harris - District 4 Council member
"I'm going to have my own meeting in district 4 to get a gauge for it. From there I will put in a request for an agenda item. The agenda item will go on the next workshop agenda list. Whether that will be incorporated into this year's budget, I don't know."
Butch Menking - Council Member at Large
"There are other things that take precedent but this is something that needs to be addressed. There is no question about it. The financial impact can be pretty severe." Menking said. "I would need to see, prior to voting for an ordinance accepting that cost, I would need to see what the cost would be one time and would the cost would be paid for by the citizens though the utility bill process."
Debbie Nash-King - District 2 Council member
"I do understand there is a hardship. You have to pay out of your own pocket and me as an individual, I wouldn't want to do that being a widow. By the same token, for the good of the city, how will we pay for it?" Nash-King said. "I am willing to negotiate and talk to other council members if this is the route they want to take to come up with ideas on how to pay for it."