By Sean Wardwell
Killeen Daily Herald
Term limits are now a fact of life for Killeen board and commission members, as the Killeen City Council approved instituting them at Tuesday night's meeting.
The ordinance, brought forth by District 3 Councilman Terry Clark, limits the terms of those serving on boards to no more than six years.
However, if a member has special qualifications, such as a professional license, academic degree or other special skills, the council has the option to retain that person for longer than six years if the member wishes to continue serving.
The council approved the ordinance in a 5-1 vote, with District 2 Councilman Juan Rivera voting against term limits. The ordinance will take effect May 1.
The debate over instituting term limits took up a great deal of the council's time in a workshop before the meeting.
"I support (the idea) but I'm not going to vote for it," said Rivera in the workshop, who then brought up the council's ability to review board and commission membership at its pleasure.
"I don't believe in sending responsibility away just because we don't want to face the music," said Rivera.
Clark said he believes term limits does not send responsibility away from the council because it sets a rule requiring the council to find new members at the end of six years.
"I'm not bringing this up to lower the axe (on existing board members)," said Clark. "(Term limits) gives us the opportunity to have more applicants on file."
Even though the ordinance found support among a majority of the council, that support was not without concerns.
"I have mixed emotions on this, I really do," said District 1 Councilman Kenny Wells. "We have the option of appointing a whole new committee every year. This restricts the council's decision-making authority."
Wells also had reservations about the clause in the ordinance that allows sitting members with special qualifications to serve longer than six years.
"When we start making exceptions, we cause more problems than we're addressing," said Wells. "Exceptions will be a complete train wreck."
The public seemed divided on the issue as well.
"We have got to do something to get people involved with city management," said Killeen resident Don Clay. "Term limitations will do that. You get stagnant. You need new blood. There isn't anyone on that list that can't be replaced."
Former Killeen Planning and Zoning Committee member Dan Corbin took issue with that assessment.
"The institutional memory (long-serving committee members) had was a blessing to the community," said Corbin, who has also served on the City Council. "Why trade that person in after six years?"
In other business, several Killeen residents spoke in opposition to a proposed cell tower to be placed north of Bobby Lee Drive.
Residents said that the area is frequently used as a dump site and is frequently littered with trash.
When Rivera pointed out that council members exist to hear these concerns and residents need to inform them of problems, an angry resident shouted from the back of the room, "I've been letting you know (about the trash) for 26 years."
The same residents also expressed concern about radiation from these towers. However, federal law does not permit local government to allow concerns about radiation to factor into its decision-making process.
After amending the ordinance to mandate the site be kept clean, and then removing the same amendment shortly afterward, the council voted unanimously to approve the tower.
Contact Sean Wardwell at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7552.