KILLEEN, Texas — The newly approved budget for the city of Killeen was explained Tuesday night at city council.
While the city was able to meet some objectives, there were some issues that will require the city to make significant changes, according to city manager Ron Olson.
6 News investigative reporter Andrew Moore broke down the top good, bad, and ugly issues of this year's budget.
Killeen’s street fee program will raise $1.6 million in funding to fix streets before they deteriorate to the point of needing to be replaced.
Olson said the policy will save the city "tens of millions of dollars" in the long run.
The city still needs to pay for an engineering study to know which roads to focus on long term, but roads around Cedarhill Dr. on the city's northeast side have already been listed as a starting point, according to city spokesperson Hillary Shine.
"If we were not addressing the issue today, the roads would continue to deteriorate and instead of being able to repair them we would have to rebuild them and that costs five times more," Olson said.
Killeen will also be getting around $6 million over the next two years from the state.
The money serves as compensation for the 100 property tax break for disabled veterans that has been reducing the available property tax revenue.
While the removal of that property tax base affected many Texas cities, Shine said Killeen lost 11.3% of that base in 2019, costing the city millions of dollars used to provide services to their community, veterans included.
Currently, the budget does not propose any increase to the tax rate or to utility fees.
Killeen keeps losing employees because it can’t afford to pay as much as neighboring cities, meaning the pay scale needs to be reformed.
Olson said the city loses as much as 23% of its staff each year. The city loses around $32,000 per employee lost due to training costs and other expenses.
Olson wants to change the payment system from a tenure-based system to one that rewards skill and performance.
The current system had a 20-point pay scale. Olson wants the scale to be reduced to just three steps and wants to allow talented people to move up the scale quickly.
"It is vitally important that we stabilize our workforce," Olson said.
Olson also said the city is currently having to work with less staff in many departments.
Olson said Killeen has been under-funding employee retirement for many years, and they need to increase that funding by $4.5 million dollars.
That means funding would have to nearly to double its current amount to start balancing it out.
It is an issue that Olson said the city will have to deal with next year.
If the city of Killeen does not change how they fund retirement, Olson said it could bankrupt the city after 2038.
Killeen's full city budget proposal can be read online.
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