From the shop foreman to the assistant city manager, management of the once-dysfunctional Killeen Fleet Services Division is full of new faces.
In the past seven months, six employees have been hired, along with two new Killeen executives who will oversee operations of the city motor pool — as well as other city divisions — from City Hall.
During an interview last week, officials said security, ethics and accountability will be priorities for the motor pool plagued last year by a scandal that unveiled a culture of theft and mismanagement.
“We are changing the culture that you are going to see here,” said Executive Director of Support Services Stu McLennan, who was hired in April.
Fleet services is responsible for maintaining the city’s fleet of more than 1,000 vehicles, which includes everything from forklifts to the fire trucks, McLennan said.
“It’s all about giving the citizens of Killeen the best return on their money.”
On Sept. 28, Killeen police pulled over fleet services mechanic David Riddle less than one mile from the fleet services barn and recovered a $400 engine. He later admitted to stealing from the city, according to police reports.
The theft sparked a three-month police investigation and audit of the motor pool, revealing mismanagement and a culture of theft that had existed in the division for more than a decade.
Among the missing items, which included tools, oil and vehicle parts, the audit indicated 2,730 gallons of diesel fuel and 48 tires went missing over an eight-year period. The fuel was valued at $7,819.
Fleet services remained under the wing of the Department of Finance until Oct. 1, when Killeen City Manager Glenn Morrison reorganized City Hall, placing the motor pool under the new Support Services Department.
On Dec. 12, three fleet services employees lost their jobs, including former division director Kim Randall, who was forced to resign. Since that time five more employees left the division.
In January, Morrison hired Ann Farris as assistant city manager-internal services, a new position that oversees all internal operations in the city, including fleet services.
Over the past four months, McLennan and Farris worked to fill all but one of the vacancies left in the 25-employee division.
At least 13 of the employees still working for the city admitted to using city materials and equipment for work on personal vehicles, according to police documents. Some admitted stealing.
All of the employees who did not lose their jobs after the investigation, received written warnings in February about stealing from the barn. No employees faced criminal charges.
Farris said no further discipline will be taken against those employees.
“That’s really enough. Whatever happened in the past is in the past,” she said. “We have new leadership, new expectations. Everybody gets a second chance.”
Many items, including some vehicles, were unaccounted for because inventories had been inadequate or nonexistent, according to the audit performed by City Auditor Amanda Wallace.
Titles of disposed vehicles had not been turned in to the city secretary’s office, Wallace said, during her testimony in April at the employee grievance hearing of one of the fired city mechanics.
McLennan said the city established comprehensive tool and part inventories and preventive maintenance checklists.
The division also is preparing to hold an auction — the first in more than two years.
“We are going to make sure that the property comes into the city and leaves the city in the right way,” McLennan said.
After the Killeen Police Department took over the division in October, the city installed 12 surveillance cameras at the barn and began enforcing a policy of locking the fleet services gates at the end of each day. New Fleet Services Director Frank Tydlacka, who was hired in May, said the managers are able to monitor recorded video feeds, one of which is aimed at the fuel station where all city vehicles refuel.
“It’s not just a security thing but an accountability thing,” he said. “It is a way of checking to make sure the vehicles are getting the right amount of fuel.”
As with the fuel, managers have begun daily monitoring of other bulk fluids, such as motor oil and hydraulic fluid, a practice that was not in place with the previous administration.
“We check to see that the same amount of oil was there at the end of the previous day,” Tydlacka said.
Along with Tydlacka — who will oversee administrative issues for the division — the city hired a new shop foreman, Grant Roach — a Killeen native with 8½ years of experience managing the motor pool at Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene.
Roach, who will oversee the day-to-day operations of the division, said being new has given him and Tydlacka a chance to review every aspect of the division from the ground up.
“We’re going back and questioning everything,” Roach said.
“We’re turning over every rock and making sure everything is accounted for at all times.”
Contact Brandon Janes at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7552