By BRITTANY FHOLER
The city of Copperas Cove is again trying to implement a transportation user fee, which would be added to resident’s utility bills, as a way to raise additional revenue for the city.
Although the details for the transportation user fee have not been fully drafted, the idea of the fee has been brought up during city council budget workshop meetings as one possible way for the city to increase its revenues.
During a May meeting, the city council met to discuss budget priorities within the city’s General Fund.
At that point, city manager Ryan Haverlah provided the council with some additional revenue generating ideas, such as increasing the property tax rate by one cent, discontinuing the homestead exemption for property taxes as well as the transportation user fee.
The fee would have to be approved by the Copperas Cove city council first, before residents would start seeing the monthly fee. The amount is $3 per utility customer account and would be applied much like the city’s drainage fee.
This isn’t the first time city administration has proposed a transportation user fee that would be paid monthly by all city utility accounts.
Back in 2013, then city manager Andrea Gardner first brought the concept of a transportation user fee to the city council, using the city of Bryan as an example.
The city of Bryan’s fee was a $3 per month charge to city utility bills, with that fee going toward street maintenance. If approved in Copperas Cove, this free would likely go to street maintenance as well – hence the name transportation user fee.
At that time, the Copperas Cove city council opted against a similar fee for Copperas Cove.
The idea of a transportation user fee was brought back to the council during discussion for the fiscal year 2015-2016 budget.
At that time, a $3 fee charged to the city’s utility customers would have brought in an estimated gross annual revenue of $485,064, to be divided equally for street repair, reconstruction, and sidewalks.
The fee was not approved by the council to be included on the city’s fee schedule.
During meetings held last month, council members expressed support in moving forward with the transportation user fee as a way to raise revenue, but the effect of the fee on commercial account holders has not been discussed.
During the 2015-2016 budget talks, the council scrapped the idea of the fee, because there wasn’t a way to address the amount that a commercial account holder would pay.
The city council was first presented with next year’s proposed budget on June 2.
They are expected to adopt next year’s city budget on August 4, with the next fiscal year starting on Oct 1.
There will be an opportunity for the public to make a comment on the budget at the July 23 meeting, which will have a public hearing on the proposed budget.
There will be another public hearing on the tax rate/tax increase on August 4, before the council votes whether to accept the budget and tax rate.
The next regular city council meeting is next Tuesday, July 7, at 6 p.m.