By Kevin M. Smith
Killeen Daily Herald
The Killeen City Council might ask residents for charter amendments, including extending council member terms from two years to three years, in November.
At Tuesday's workshop, Councilman Juan Rivera asked the council to consider placing charter amendments on the May 10 ballot. But after some discussion, the council agreed that residents need more input and agreed to appoint a committee to research the amendments after the May 10 election.
Rivera first asked for an extension in the terms served by council members. He said he spent his first year learning. Rivera said he wants more time to spend on the committees which he serves so he can accomplish more. He said two years are not enough.
"About a year and a half later, you start thinking about running again," said Rivera, who started his first term in May 2007 after winning his council seat unopposed.
Rivera also wanted to increase council members' salaries from $100 per month to $300 per month. The mayor receives $200 per month, and Rivera asked for more in that seat, too.
Several other council members agreed with Rivera on the term length.
"I support it in general," Councilman Larry Cole said. "I like the three-year term idea."
Cole, who is completing his first term and up for election this May, said he has a lot of work to do that he may not get to continue if not re-elected.
"I'm just now getting some things started I'd like to see finished," Cole said.
Others were opposed.
"I think two-year terms are sufficient now," Councilman Billy Workman said.
Workman, like others, also spoke against placing the charter amendments on the ballot. The election is less than six weeks away.
"I don't believe in expediting this," Workman said.
Mayor Timothy Hancock asked that the charter amendments wait until the November ballot so a citizen advisory committee could be established.
"I would like for it to be done in an orderly fashion to include the citizens," Hancock said.
Rivera conceded there needs to be more input.
"I do believe it belongs to the citizens," Rivera said about the charter, which governs the council.
Councilman Otis Evans asked that as long as a citizen committee was being formed to review this issues, that the council compile a list of any other potential changes it wants so the committee can address all the issues in one year.
City Attorney Kathy Davis talked to the council about some of the legal ramifications of changing the term lengths. She said at-large council members could no longer win by plurality – by getting the most votes but not necessarily the majority of votes. A candidate would have to receive more than 50 percent of the votes to win. If there was no majority winner, there would have to be a runoff.
Also, the at-large seats would not be elected by the top three vote getters; instead, candidates would have to select a specific seat.
Contact Kevin M. Smith at email@example.com or call (254) 501-7550