By Hailey Persinger
Killeen Daily Herald
Killeen's seven-member city council will head out of town this weekend to determine ways to better grow the city.
According to the agenda for the council's two-day special workshop, the group begins its development talks and evaluation of all council members at 8 a.m. today at the Stagecoach Inn in Salado.
Council members will have to open their own checkbooks tonight to pay for their meal at Cheeves Brothers steakhouse in Temple. But former Mayor Maureen Jouett and Councilman Billy Workman said they take issue with moving the meeting away from the very city the council is set to discuss.
Workman, who said he likely will not participate in the workshop, called the meeting "a waste of citizens' money" but acknowledged that the team-building aspect will be "a good thing."
Jouett, who served three terms as mayor until current Mayor Tim Hancock took the reins in 2006, said such retreats have always been at the discretion of the sitting council.
She said she feels moving the retreat to Salado and Temple contradicts the confidence council members say they have in their own city.
"We say 'buy Killeen, fly Killeen' and then go to places outside the city of Killeen," she said.
But Hancock defends the decision to get away from City Hall, where council members convene each week for council workshops, televised regular meetings and committee meetings.
The council has considered suggestions for an out-of-town retreat since 2006, he said, and it's always been the intention to escape city limits.
"We all agreed that 'yes' we would go out of town, get into a different atmosphere," he said. "We need to express ourselves. We need to get on the same sheet of music. We need to understand each other. It's obvious, as far as I'm concerned. I don't think that we are functioning as well as we could."
Hancock also said concerns about taking business out of town are unfounded, as he does not expect to spend money while in Salado and said council members likely won't have time for such activities either.
"We're not going to buy anything," he said. "We're not going shopping. At least I'm not going shopping."
While the first portion of the meeting - a planning and best practices discussion with The Elim Group, a Denton-based consulting firm - will be open to the public, the evaluations of individual council members could happen behind closed doors.
Traci Briggs, Killeen's deputy city attorney, said the council has the power to, and likely would, move to executive session for individual evaluations.
If the evaluations were to be completed in an open forum, Hancock said he would likely hold back some of his true feelings.
"There are certain things I wouldn't say," he said. "I'm not there for the world to know what we're doing. If we want to air our dirty laundry, that's what we ought to be able to do."
Contact Hailey Persinger at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7568. Follow her on Twitter at KDHcity.