Copperas Cove city council approves city budget, tax rate: animal shelter decision to lie in voters’ hands

Council tables decision to approve EDC funding $940,000 for eastside walking trail

 

By LYNETTE SOWELL

Cove Leader-Press

 

The Copperas Cove city council held a public hearing on the city’s proposed property tax rate for fiscal year 2021-2022, then followed up with votes to adopt the tax rate as well as the city’s budget for fiscal year 2021-2022.

No one spoke during the public hearing for the proposed tax rate of 76.0068 cents per $100 valuation at Tuesday’s meeting.

The total operating budget for the city is $42,785,008, to include general fund, water and sewer fund, drainage fund, and other funds, and was approved by the council unanimously.  

The council also unanimously ordered a bond election on Tuesday, and Copperas Cove voters will have the opportunity to head to the polls and decide the fate of a proposed $4 million animal shelter, which would be constructed near Fire Station No. 2 at 2411 F.M. 1113.

There is a draft of the voter information document that is currently being gone over by the city’s attorney as well as financial advisor, said City Manager Ryan Haverlah.

The document contains the ballot language information that voters will see in November, as well as principal and a 3 percent interest rate for a 20-year note. This would entail a potential tax increase of 1.7 cents per $100 valuation. Haverlah said that presently, interest rates are below that amount. Haverlah said that the 1.7 cents could decrease as Copperas Cove grows over the coming years.

The potential cost to Copperas Cove property owners would be around $13.60 per year for a $100,000 home, over a 20-year bond period, for the new shelter.  

The cost amount has shrunk since discussions for a new facility began several years ago, which initially had an estimated cost of $8 million with the facility proposed at that time.

Haverlah said the city is still in early discussions with Fort Hood for eventually accepting the post’s overflow animals from its facility. With accepting that overflow, the city could also be looking at dollars from Fort Hood for those animals. However, Haverlah did say again this is only early discussions.

The council voted to table a decision on an agreement presented by the Copperas Cove Economic Development Corporation. The agreement, with Choice Builders, LLC, is to develop a walking trail on a seven-acre tract of land owned by the EDC. The vacant property is located between the Constitution Court Apartments and single-family housing on Mueller Street.

The agreement is for $940,000, which will involve about 3,800 linear feet of a 10-foot wide trail, with benches, waste receptacles, drinking fountains and dog bowls at trail heads, dog waste receptacles, lighting, signage, along with a scenic overview, that will also include a destination Cove sign, which will be a provide photo opportunities, said EDC Executive Director Jonas Titas. Choice Builders also completed The Narrows sidewalks project.

Titas said the project funding comes from proceeds from recent land sales.

“This has been the best idea that we have come been able to up with to make the park more marketable, more hospitable for business attraction. It’s not outside the realm of what we’re seeing nationwide, as companies embrace wellness policies and outdoor activities to encourage the health of their employees, said Titas. “We’re seeing similar projects in Temple, in East Texas, in Kilgore, The James Avery project that I worked on in Kerrville did include a nature trail in their business projects.”

Titas said it will also help save drainage issues for some of the neighboring residences and that the EDC will maintain the property, as it also maintains the entrance signs to the city.  

After questions and discussion with the council, Titas, as well as Public Works Director Scott Osburn, councilmember Jack Smith made the motion to table the item, which was seconded by councilmember Jay Manning.

“For me, it’s a chance to think about this more. I see several different problems with it. As far as I know, there were no drainage issues until the apartments were built, and those need to be fixed,” Manning said.

Councilmember Joann Courtland said she would also like to hear more about the drainage issues. She said she used to own a home on Mueller and there were no drainage issues at that time.

“The way it was presented at that time, that there was going to be a good buffer between us and the apartment complex. Now we’re hearing there’s a drainage issue and there could be potential security and safety issues,” Courtland said of her request to hear more about the drainage issues in that area.

The city council also approved the city’s personnel improvement plan for fiscal years 2022-2026 and the personnel improvement plan for fiscal year 2021-2022; the Capital Outlay Plan for fiscal years 2022-2026 and the official Capital Outlay Plan for fiscal year 2021-2022; the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) for fiscal years 2022-202a6 and the official Capital Improvement Plan for fiscal year 2021-2022

Copperas Cove Leader Press

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Copperas Cove, TX 76522
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