By Anthony Scott
Killeen Daily Herald
The Killeen City Council agreed to buy out City Manager Connie Green's contract for $750,000 during a called meeting Tuesday.
Following a 2½-hour executive session with the city attorney, the council approved the buyout in a 4-3 vote. Mayor Pro Tem Scott Cosper and Councilmembers Kenny Wells, JoAnn Purser and Ernest Wilkerson voted to spend the money, while Councilmen Larry Cole, Juan Rivera and Billy Workman voted against the buyout.
"The same people just gave me a raise not so very long ago," Green told the media after the meeting. "Now they say they didn't have all the information. Don't believe that. They had all the information in the world."
After the decision, Green said sometimes it's not about money; it's about principle. A small crowd that had formed around him erupted, both in support of Green and in disagreement over the $750,000 he will receive from the city.
According to the buyout agreement, the city will issue Green a check for the amount no later than the "close of business" today.
The $750,000 payout was a point of contention for Cole, who said he didn't vote for the agreement because he was in favor of firing Green, which would give him what his contract stipulates.
Green's contract requires the city pay Green two years of salary and benefits, which would be at least $400,000.
"Mr. Green resigned and forced us to make a decision on termination," Cole said prior to voting. "He's entitled only to his contract and nothing more."
Mayor Tim Hancock released a typed statement at the end of the meeting, noting that Assistant City Manager Glenn Morrison will lead city staff as interim city manager until the council selects Green's replacement.
"This was not a decision reached easily, but the City Council believes that this agreement was in the best interest of the future of the organization and the community," Hancock said.
Green, 49, became city manager in 2005, and originally was paid about $135,000 annually. By the end of his tenure, his salary had been raised multiple times after several evaluations, putting his annual salary at about $195,000.
In 1990 Green started with the city as finance director and was promoted to assistant city manager in 2000.
Green assumed his current position after former City Manager David Blackburn accepted the same position with Temple.
A muddled past
The City Council approved a raise at Green's last evaluation in 2010. That was several months prior to a March 15 meeting in which Green brought up the topic of his duties as city manager.
Green said he brought up the issue of council members having walking quorums - meetings held between at least four council members without posting public notice of the meeting in accordance with the Texas Open Meetings Act.
"If you are a city manager and you feel something going on was illegal, you have a responsibility to bring it to the attention of the City Council," Green said. "I did my job."
Green declined to comment on the specifics of the walking quorums.
Workman, speaking after Tuesday's meeting, said the quorum mentioned involved at least Hancock on speaker phone with Wells and Cosper present with Green.
"They had changed their minds," Workman said of the conference call. "They didn't want to keep him."
During a meeting March 22 in executive session, Hancock put an item on the agenda for the council to further deliberate Green's evaluation. At that time, four council members informed Green they felt it was time he moved on, Green said.
"I have tried to represent this city with honor and dignity throughout my 21-year history at the city of Killeen," Green said.
Workman said some council members talked to city staff about conducting investigations.
"We do not have power to go to his staff and say we're gonna do an investigation," Workman said. "We don't do that. We go through the city manager and judge; that's who works directly through us. Those city council members who did that overstepped their bounds."
Workman said a "witch hunt" has been in place for years against Green, himself and others who don't go along with "the clique" - the Committee of 12 (C-12), a group of business people, developers and politicians who reportedly influence politics in Killeen.
"Citizens, you need to put checks and balances on," Workman said. "Do not let civilian groups like C-12 run the city."
Contact Anthony Scott at email@example.com or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcity.