With a newly named assistant city manager, and a remodeled chambers that will be completed soon, Killeen City Council members are looking forward to the new year ahead.

The selection of David Ellison as the new assistant city manager was announced Friday. The interview process for the position began in October, shortly after Assistant City Manager Dennis Baldwin announced his plans to retire. City Manager Ron Olson chose Ellison from 115 applicants, and the council is expected to consider his confirmation Jan. 15.

Ellison has more than 20 years of municipal experience with multiple assistant city manager assignments. He is currently a project manager for the city of San Antonio Airport System following a three-year stint as assistant city manager.

The city council will also have a new place to meet in 2019, after cosmetic and technological upgrades were made to its dais. Although the new chambers were set to be ready in time for Tuesday’s meeting, last-minute delays slowed the process. According to city spokeswoman Hilary Shine, the city hopes to have a new date for completion following a Tuesday meeting with the contractor.

The Herald contacted the mayor and all council members via email Monday to get their thoughts about 2019. For those who didn’t immediately respond, the Herald followed up with another email and phone call.

Here’s what they had to say:

Mayor Jose Segarra

“As for 2019, more people and businesses continue to call Killeen their home, and we are looking forward to our continued positive growth that our city continues to see. One of the biggest items on council agenda this year is working with our KISD as they prepare to build new schools. We will be working with them along with the county and our neighboring cities to improve the roads and ensure safety around those infrastructures.”

Councilwoman Shirley Fleming

“My concerns are very simple. As a councilwoman, I am hoping that the council members will work together in a positive manner, with respect and concern for each other. I hope that the big issue is the WCID problem allowing the citizens to vote in the districts and not take away their rights to vote in the members on the board, which is what some of the members want. I want us to continue to educate the community on human and sex trafficking in Texas, as well as continue to fight crime in our community. I want us to make sure everyone is registered to vote and maintain the right to vote for the person of their choice. I want us to help get qualified candidates to run for office, and to continue to move Killeen forward in every way possible.”

Councilman Steve Harris

“What I would like to see this year for our city is a reviewing of our city ordinances and charter to determine any changes that need to be made. For instance, the still lingering waterline repair responsibility discussion that was and, suddenly, was no more.

“City-wise directly, to continue to explore more and implement strategies to bring revenues into our city without placing undue financial burdens on the citizens. Impact fees are one of those things. Transparency and increased trust in our city government will still be a priority as well. Getting back to addressing items presented and approved for discussion by council members in the order they come in instead of allowing the majority council to “prioritize,” leading to approved discussions never getting to the floor that citizens desire us to address. This will lend to more transparency and trust.

“Economically on the business side, bring in more various larger and higher hourly and salary paying businesses, reducing our dependency on only a few entities.

“One thing I can say that we do know for sure is that one of our primary goals is to achieve a full dollar for dollar reimbursement from the state in regards to lost revenues as a response to the well deserved, veteran exemptions. The exemption was truly a great idea, but lacked consideration of a city’s ability to compensate for the loss of revenue while still providing for consistent and increased quality of life for our veterans and civilian population. I believe we will get it because Texas is not just a name, it’s a standard; and our representatives, albeit they may not all agree, realize this in the end. Beyond this, greater communications and collaboration with KISD. Yes, we are two separate governing entities but our relationship must in the future be more symbiotic, not single-sighted.”

Councilman Hugh “Butch” Menking

“I’m really looking forward to seeing our street maintenance program becoming unstuck. It has been neglected for so many years and we are finally making efforts to close that gap. There are other pieces to create a robust and financially viable transportation system that we still need to work on but we’re definitely making progress.”

COUNCILWOMAN DEBBIE NASH-KING

“I would like to see the city council members work toward building a more cohesive team when working on important issues that will have an impact on our citizens and our community. The council must work together in order to improve our image in the community.

“I would like for all city departments to get more involved with events in the community in order to build stronger relationships with Killeen citizens.

“I would like to see more city town hall meetings so citizens can have a better understanding on how the city functions on a daily basis.

“The city staff and council must worker harder to find money in the budget to retain our highly qualified and dedicated employees.

“I would like for the city staff to work closer with Fort Hood and Killeen’s Economic Development to provide highly skilled jobs for Soldiers leaving the Army and Veterans living in the surrounding community.

“I would like the city to host more free informational seminars/classes and free family events for senior citizens and youth at least quarterly.

“I would like the Killeen Police Department to continue to reduce crime and improve our community relationship with the residents.”

Council members Gregory Johnson, Jim Kilpatrick and Juan Rivera did not respond by press time.

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