KILLEEN FINANCES

With the whirlwind of budget season over, the quiet work of planning for the future has settled over Killeen City Hall.

A scathing report from the city’s management audit in August and residents’ continued frustration with the growth and aesthetics of the city’s neighborhoods are the backdrop.

Residents’ quality of life, such as walkability, neighborhood composition, access to transportation, are at stake.

The city is in the beginning stages of updating its comprehensive plan, a 20-year document that governs the city’s growth pattern and provides resident input on quality-of-life concerns.

Killeen City Manager Ron Olson has also announced a series of sweeping reforms of city policy over the next few months, including a reworking of the city’s financial controls and policy, a tweaking of the council’s meeting protocol and decision making process, and — most importantly — the creation of a long-term budget strategy that will help combat the short-sighted thinking that hamstrung previous city administrations.

With so much on the docket, and so little time before the next year’s budget season begins, the city and council are working to balance the needs of the present with coming financial pitfalls.

Future growth

The most complicated item in Olson’s policy initiative is the creation of a new Killeen comprehensive plan — which Olson said Tuesday is in the preliminary stages.

During the creation of the current plan in 2009, the city interviewed residents in the planning process, with residents at the time expressing concerns that continue.

It could address residents’ concerns such as:

• A real estate market catered primarily to Fort Hood soldiers

• A lack of landscaping in residential neighborhoods

• Few neighborhood amenities and limited walkability

• Overreliance on “patchwork” residential developments

• A lack of north-south transportation corridors

• Unsustainable growth and little green technology

While the city has addressed some of those concerns, its inability to address building standards for homes has continued to keep home values low and limit the city’s ability to fill its coffers with property tax revenue.

With a new comprehensive plan, the city would have the ability to address many residents’ concerns about the quantity and quality of housing as well as reconsider other quality of life initiatives like hike-and-bike-trails and increased amenities.

The city adopted its first comprehensive plan in 2010 following a rapid growth spurt in the mid-2000s that left the city scrambling to balance a booming residential population and retail sector.

But aspects of the comprehensive plan have been under fire for years as the city’s growth peaked and slowed, leaving residents and some council members looking for a more sustainable and considered growth strategy.

Last week, residents in the hundreds told the Herald they wanted increased street light coverage throughout neighborhoods, highlighting the city’s hands-off approach to neighborhood aesthetics and safety.

The council has also criticized aspects of the current plan.

In August, Councilman Steve Harris called for a moratorium on new home construction until the city performed an expedited review of its comprehensive plan to rein in what he saw as uncontrolled residential growth.

“My intention is to get this city growing the right way,” Harris said. “If council members want that, they’ll support this.”

The council killed the item by consensus vote Aug. 15.

Financial policy

Olson was mum this week on where the city currently sits in its policy creation process but did offer a rough schedule for what will be coming before the council beginning this month.

Following the completion of the city’s long-awaited management audit in August, Olson said the city administration would work to fold a slew of recommendations into a financial policy package for council consideration.

The goal of the new financial package is to better safeguard taxpayer funds and prevent loopholes for malfeasance in the future.

Houston-based McConnell & Jones’ report said auditors found:

• Failure to maintain some documents and data according to state records retention policy

• Failure to document discussions with bond counsel on guidance obtained

• The Aviation Department, Killeen Civic and Conference Center, Volunteer Services, Senior Center and Cemetery maintained accounts on QuickBooks outside the city’s SunGard financial system

• Finance officials frequently added new accounts to record transactions because they were not able to understand how former staff established and used certain accounts, leading to “convoluted recordkeeping and an unwieldy chart of accounts.”

• Elevated risk of financial transactions manipulation, which could go undetected

At least one of those findings — the use of Quickbooks outside of the city’s central record-keeping system — was immediately addressed when it was identified, Olson said in August.

While the council won’t be involved with policy creation at the granular level, Olson has said the council will set the city’s highest priorities for financial direction and consider ordinances governing policy, if necessary.

According to Olson, the council’s workshop session planned for mid-November is expected to look similar to the process Olson led the council through during the budget season beginning in April, when council members identified and reached a consensus on budget “values” and priorities.

Better budgeting

One number jumped out to the council and residents during the 2018 budget discussions over the summer: $27 million — the projected shortfall in the city’s operational fund by 2037 if drastic measures are not taken.

To combat that apocalyptic figure, Olson has engaged the council with the process of “managing the gap,” or taking intermediary steps each year to pass a balanced budget that limits the projected shortfall in the following year.

The task is made more difficult following a city budget crisis in 2016, when a preliminary budget with an $8 million shortfall was taken before the council. Over the course of the following two months, the council scrambled to slice millions in expenses off the city’s proposed spending plan, eventually balancing the 2017 budget nearly five months later in January.

In the coming years, managing the shortfall gap will get increasingly difficult.

The city is currently losing around $4.5 million in property tax revenue due to the state-mandated disabled veteran property tax exemption that could grow larger if the Texas Legislature approves a separate property exemption for Purple Heart recipients.

In September, feeling the pinch from limited tax revenue, the council passed a 2018 budget that sliced away a number of community activities and vacant police positions while still meeting the city’s essential mission, Olson said.

To prevent the council from making short-sighted budget cuts each fiscal year, Olson has proposed revisiting the city’s budget priorities with the council with the intent of revisiting general guidelines such as the city’s 20 percent to 25 percent reserve fund goal.

The city would also be able to review its major capital improvement priorities, including increased street maintenance funding, as part of the process.

kyleb@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7567

(5) comments

wilyoldvet69

Limited walkability and North - South transportation corridors?? To me that's translation for let's build a way for the hoodlums and criminals that terrorizing north Killeen to come to south Killeen! How about focus on cleaning up Killeen from its number one problem (CRIME) and then focus on everything else!

Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.

First, I would like all of you to take a gander at 'MGC pursues permits for chemical plant construction, by Josh Sullivan – Herald Staff Writer. It seems they don't like to put any of the things that I've been writing on this newspaper, so I suggest to you to read what I have written and I'll leave it to you as to what you think.

Copy: 'The city is in the beginning stages of updating its comprehensive plan, a 20-year document that governs the city’s growth pattern and provides resident input on quality-of-life concerns.'
Continuation of copy: 'Future growth
The most complicated item in Olson’s policy initiative is the creation of a new Killeen comprehensive plan — which Olson said Tuesday is in the preliminary stages.' End of copy.

What is this???? You say, 'The beginning of a 20 years plan that has been updated at least twice before and that was with the aspect that they did not apply anything for 5 years so they had to 're-invent the wheel'. I do not consider 'progress'. As to 'Ron Olsen's comprehensive plan', that tome is just another name for a pre-exisiting plan in which this city is continuing to hop scotch all over this city with cookie cutter new homes. Progress is where you draw up a plan, of any magnitude whatsoever and then follow that plant, making course corrections as necessary, so that in the intermediate stages of the plan, you are up to speed on that plan. You don't, 'start over from scratch, wasting the money that you had previously spent.Killeen City Manager Ron Olson has also announced a series of sweeping reforms of city policy over the next few months, including a reworking of the city’s financial controls and policy, a tweaking of the council’s meeting protocol and decision making process, and — most importantly — the creation of a long-term budget strategy that will help combat the short-sighted thinking that hamstrung previous city administrations.

Copy: 'Killeen City Manager Ron Olson has also announced a series of sweeping reforms of city policy over the next few months, including a reworking of the city’s financial controls and policy, a tweaking of the council’s meeting protocol and decision making process, and — most importantly — the creation of a long-term budget strategy that will help combat the short-sighted thinking that hamstrung previous city administrations.' End of copy.

Just what 'sweeping changes is he going to make that is going to 'turn this city administrative group' around. He plans on changes that will make this, what I call a mini forum of just 4 select city council People that will continue to 'run this city' to their own liking instead of having the 7 council people along with a city manager.

In regards to the operation of this council and having the power reside in this council, this appears to be 'a thing of the past', saying things like 'this council is powerless to countermand things that are already in motion but not complete, as in 'we have to abide by the contracts that were made, we can't do anything about it, or putting something 'on the table', that was not on the agenda previously, and voting in a rush as one member of this council was absent which gave the mayor the ability to break the tie vote, and you know where his vote went, or the city legal staff taking advantage of shredding documents that was supposed to not be shredded, and in total disregard, chose to 'shred the documents', which caused a delay in the contract by manipulation, choosing to throw a large majority of the documentation at the end of the contract period, not on the front end as one would expect to be followed, and the expectation that there be a 'large majority' of council, namely six to one in matters concerning policy decision making in lieu of the normal 4 to 3 arrangement. Theses 'sweeping changes' that he referring to, does it have any bearing on the balancing of the budget based on the elimination of over 20 KPD slots that were vacant to begin with, or a change in policy that places the KPD training program, and when graduates complete the program, that places them into a slot that for the first 18 months of their tenure, the funds are withdrawn from 'the General fund', the catch all bucket, instead of the KPD funds which they should be drawing from in the first place, and on and on and on.

Copy: 'Residents’ quality of life, such as walkability, neighborhood composition, access to transportation, are at stake.' End of copy.

What is 'walkability' anyway???? In this day and age, a large percentage of people own at least two or more cars and they 'drive' everywhere they go. They are not dependent on having bike trails to 'catch a bus or other mode of transportation. There is not, in my opinion, favorable shopping anywhere in this city. The thoughts that, 'bike trails would simplify shopping', what is this new bike trail running from Harker Heights going to do for people in the Northern section of this city????

Copy: 'In August, Councilman Steve Harris called for a moratorium on new home construction until the city performed an expedited review of its comprehensive plan to rein in what he saw as uncontrolled residential growth.;
Continuation of copy: '“My intention is to get this city growing the right way,” Harris said. “If council members want that, they’ll support this.”
Continuation of copy: 'The council killed the item by consensus vote Aug. 15.' End of copy.

To start with, I don't recall, other than the vote in which the council was not scheduled to vote on this particular 'piece of legislation' until it was noted that one member of the council was going to be absent, in which the council in true legislative fashion called for the vote in which there was a 3 to 3 vote and the mayor was called on in true fashion by voting against councilman Harris proposal. One thing, this was not on the agenda for that meeting, and another thing,m I don't recall there ever being a vote as to 'what or what not could be placed on the floor in the first place, it was just assumed and done.

As to what was the plan to Olsen's future plans on better management of the financial strategies of this city, 'he was rather mum on that subject. So we will have to see what the future holds in that area of 'better city governance and financial planning and directives', including the failure to maintain documents and data retention. It is my personal opinion 'that heads should roll', but it will probably be the order of the day to increase payment.

In the scope of 'better budgeting, city manager Olsen has plans to 'combat that
apocalyptic figure by 'passing on to the council to manage the gap', the gap that his predecessors 'shoved down the throats of each and every citizen who are, or will be, living in this city for the next 20 odd years at least. It all depends on 'what this city management group has in store for us peons'. Nice going.

@eyewatchingu: It seems to me to be a worthless pursuit of studying what other city's and their form of governance if we cannot exercise this avenue as to what our city plans to do. In my opinion, we have to get through to our city administrative group what the importance in 'separation of powers, such as the overwhelming minority that is exhibited in the chambers now, the split between the powers of the KEDC and the stranglehold that is exhibited here now. And the story goes on, and on, and on. We need, in my opinion, a change to a superior majority vote (6 to 1) or a vote to end this KEDC city council membership as it exists now. And the story goes on and on and on. This is my thoughts on this subject.

This has been the personal opinion of this writer and nothing shall be used, in context or without or changed in any way without first notifying, and receiving explicit approval from this writer.
One of the 4.58 % who voted.

THUGNIFICENT KILLED ME

The KING of KILLeen had better wake up. The peasants have little more to give to the KING. The KING's thugs have taken everything the poor people have, minus a few dollars for food and medicine. The rich people, the better off escaped years ago, beginning about 2007, they were warned. The Army is about half of what it once was, also about 2007. Retired military, retired civilians (KISD, KILLeen city, state of Texas, a few Bell county types, many pensioners scraping by on Social Insecurity, and plenty of welfare grifters.

Better start cutting back, because you've stolen it all KING, the little sheeple have nothing left to be stolen, unless you want to take their wretched lives.

eyewatchingu

@Alvin, I was searching around the internet for how different cities are ran, I wanted to point this document out to as I think you would be interested in this.
This is a Review done by Cleveland Ohio's Review committee. Council structures throughout the United States Overview for the 2016 Charter Review Committee https://www.columbus.gov/uploadedFiles/Columbus/Elected_Officials/City_Council/Charter_Review_Commission/2016_Committee/Council%20structure%20and%20alternatives.pdf

These are the things that are city should be doing, reviewing other cities and many other things that would greatly improve our city and would lead more of our citizens getting involved with the city. SO I wanted to post a few quotes from this article.

Quote1 from Page 5 and 6 : The Ohio experience Staff has provided members with a spreadsheet, outlining the characteristics of legislative branches of Ohio’s 15 largest cities. This list provides members with information on the form of government, council structure, council size, and meeting frequency for cities ranging in size from 50,000 to over three-quarters of a million; mayor-council, council-manager, and commission-manager forms of government; and at-large, hybrid and district-based councils.

As members can see, 13 of the 15 largest cities in Ohio use the mayor-council form of government, with Dayton and Springfield of southwest Ohio being notable users of the commission-manager form of government.

Nine cities employ a hybrid structure of representation, five elect members atlarge, with one city exclusively electing members from districts. It is notable that Ohio’s three largest cities – Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati – are not in the majority of cities using a hybrid form of representation. Columbus and Cincinnati elect all of their members at-large, while Cleveland is the one major Ohio city to elect all members from districts. Additionally, Cleveland stands alone in being the only legislative body to have a variable number of municipal legislators based upon city population.

Historically, it is worth noting Cincinnati’s storied history with it’s charter and municipal government, which has ultimately produced the longest running thirdparty in American politics to continually have elected officials in office – the Charter Party or Committee. Established in 1924, the Charter Committee was a direct response of the Boss Cox era of city politics, where the City of Cincinnati had a 32-member city council, with six of those seats being reserved for at-large election. In 1924, the year of the Charter Committee’s founding, Cincinnati City Council was split between 31 Republicans and one Democrat – orchestrated by Boss Cox’s lead protégé, Rudolph Hynicka. Leading to the adoption of a new city charter, the Charterites brought Cincinnati a council-manager form of government, a civil service bureaucracy, and a nine-member nonpartisan city council. Those at-large members are served by city’s 52 community councils, covering all 80 square miles of the city.

Cleveland’s history is also notable in this area. Prior to home rule, Cleveland City Council’s sized varied between six and 40. Once home rule was introduced in Ohio in 1912, Cleveland’s charter gave the city a ward-based 26-member council. The electors of Cleveland would fundamentally change their charter in 1921 to move to a council-manager system, in addition to adding three council members, moving the total membership to 29. Two years later, four additional members would be added, raising the total number of municipal legislators to 33 within ten years of adopting a home rule charter. By 1931, the council-manager system was abandoned in Cleveland, but the 33-member city council persisted. Twenty years later, in 1951, Cleveland’s electors reduced the size of council from 33 to 21. In 2008, the electors of Cleveland once again instituted further change to their charter relative their city council, introducing a population-based system ensuring a City Council between 11 and 25 members. The current Cleveland City Council has a membership of 17, with a decennial review after ever census.

Lastly, as members deliberate, it is worth noting that Akron, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Elyria, Hamilton, Kettering, Lakewood, Springfield, Toledo and Youngstown are home rule charter cities, as outlined by City Attorney’s Office Chief Counsel Joshua T. Cox. The other cities – Canton, Lorain and Parma – are statutory cities under Ohio law, making those cities subject to state legislative changes to their governmental structures.

Specifically, as it relates to the City of Columbus, our form of government is a mayor-council form of government, with a strong mayor. Columbus City Council has seven seats, all elected at-large. While Columbus is a strong mayor, mayorcouncil form of government, City Council maintains legislative authority under the classical separation of powers – Council is responsible for enacting the laws of the city and appropriating the money necessary to operate the government through it’s role in deliberating and taking action on the Mayor’s budget when it is submitted to Council. Additionally, Columbus City Council makes land use decisions through the Zoning Committee. In those regards Council is an equal partner with the Mayor in the governing of Columbus.

Council members must be residents of the city for at least one year prior to election and maintain that residency throughout his or her term of service, and may not hold any other public office except notary public or member of an Armed Forces reserve unit.

quote from page 3and 4: The Columbus City Charter provides for a mayor-council form of government with a strong mayor system. This explanation is not provided to preclude members from looking at the size and structure of city councils around the nation that do not fall into that category, rather to provide useful information in how the members analyze the data being presented and understand that there may be a city or cities that we admire and look to, however, their form of government may necessitate a certain size or form.

The second piece of information members should be aware of when looking at research that has been or will be provided, is that several cities employ a citycounty consolidated government, which is different from the context Columbus is in.

The United States Census Bureau identifies 34 city-county consolidated governments out of the 3,069 county governments that exist throughout the nation. The cities that this information applies to that members should use caution when examining are the City and County of San Francisco, California; The City and County of Denver; Nashville/Davidson County; the County of Duval/City f Jacksonville; the County of Marion/City of Indianapolis; and County of Jefferson/City of Louisville.

City-county consolidations are attempts at metropolitan reorganization for one of many reasons, depending on local context.

For example, the City of Jacksonville consolidated with Duval County in 1968 after the industrial city’s center declined. With population shifting to the suburbs, the tax base was eroded and its services overlapped with other governments in the area. Additionally, three major scandals in the city led to a reorganization with an elected chief executive, and a 19-member council.

Additionally, we can look to the consolidated City and County of San Francisco’s consolidation in 1900 as the result of residents seeking to remedy the City of San Francisco’s ails of enormous debt and taxation, which was deterring capital investment, and leading to population at flight at the time. Consolidating with the more frugal and economic County of San Francisco provided the remedy to an impending fiscal crisis and gave California its only city-county consolidated government to this day. I mention these examples because it is worth noting that major events in local politics usually lead to the city-county consolidated government, with peculiar local sensitivities being catered to in the formation of the new government. Accordingly, any examination of a city-county consolidated government should be done with the knowledge that further historical context may be required to explain attributes of the respective municipal government.

I will further note that not all major cities have home rule authority, while many have state constitutional factors that directly limit the ability of municipalities to craft local solutions for government structure and form of election. For example, Chicago, Boston, and Memphis are ruled by a byzantine collection of state constitution, state law, quasi-home rule, and local charter provisions. Other states, such as Indiana and South Carolina, do not provide home rule authority as we have in Ohio.

I really recommend reading the whole report as its very short and to the point. I think that are city leaders need to work on fixing the problems and adopting a some forum of government that actually fits the city of Killeen. As we all no many cities along military installations fail and end up becoming dead cities, or places that bases end up warning spouses and soldiers about, in the welcome to such and such base meetings when one is newly stationed to an area. I am sure many other Military spouses have set though theses and look at their spouse thinking OMG where have you brought me to this time. Many of the down falls of those cities are because of poorly ran management and to many different ways of running things, because they have not truly set the way a city should be managed. Just like baking a cake, or a science project, their are set basic rules you must follow before you can move on to experimenting. You can not remove elements from the element list, you can only add to it. h2o is always h2o, yet you can add change it. You still have to have the basic element before you can have tea and that is water!

I think this problem has ran deeper then just few years, this is a problem that has been around since the start of the city, and has just now festered and became abscessed, and we need to drain it, fix it and remove the elements that are causing the infection.


centexdave

Interesting you would use the State of Ohio. They can't even win a football game. lol

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