Killeen City Councilman Steve Harris requested discussion of a 2013 agreement authorizing the creation of the Turnbo Ranch subdivision Wednesday, asking for an investigation of possible “secret collusion” in negotiations between city officials and Killeen developer Bruce Whitis’ WB Development.

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Steve Harris

Turnbo Ranch, a 3,750-home master-planned community scheduled to break ground later this year on the southern outskirts of Killeen, was incorporated as a municipal utility district and operates as its own taxing entity separate from the city.

In an email to Killeen City Manager Ron Olson, Harris said the agreement, passed in June 2013 by a 4-3 council vote, was rushed to approval with city staff not adequately informing the council of the contract’s stipulations. Harris requested the item be placed on a future workshop agenda.

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Killeen City Manager Ron Olson is seen in his office on Friday, Feb. 10, 2017.

“During the debates for and against the MUD agreement, questions were presented and not answered adequately by staff, which bred concerns from some council members,” Harris wrote. “Even in the sense of logic to disapprove the agreement, some members of staff and the council still debated in its favor.”

Harris, formerly a councilman from 2013-15, voted against the agreement in 2013 alongside Councilmen Jonathan Okray and Terry Clark. Council members Elizabeth Blackstone, Wayne Gilmore, Jose Segarra and Jared Foster voted in support.

“The Purpose of this discussion is to revisit and, if necessary, investigate prior discussions about the MUD to determine if all information was ... communicated to the council; and, no secret collusions between the city staff, council members and the developers occurred,” Harris wrote.

WB Development declined to comment Thursday.

In requesting the item, Harris is following through on a campaign promise made during the run up to the May 6 district elections when he said he would propose an investigation of the subdivision agreement.

On March 27, the Herald reported Whitis used family and friends to accommodate the creation of the 3,750-home, $238-million development that was formally incorporated by the November 2014 general ballot election.

The district will function as a governmental entity of his own, with the ability to levy property tax on its residents and issue municipal debt with a board of directors.

According to the terms of the agreement signed between Whitis and the city, the city will be responsible for millions in infrastructure improvements to accommodate the district, with the developer fronting some of the cost of the improvements.

It’s unclear if Harris’ request will actually go up for full discussion at a later council workshop.

Starting Tuesday, Olson introduced an initiative to have every potential discussion topic proposed by council members brought up for a consensus agreement before the item is ever fully discussed during a workshop. If that model holds, Harris’ request would go before a council consensus before discussion, and it is unclear whether it would receive any support for full discussion.

Council members appeared in support of Olson’s initiative, but Harris told Olson in his Wednesday email he did not favor the new rule.

kyleb@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7567

(7) comments

Alvin
Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.
I've just read the the KDH Poll question of the week:
'Do you agree with Killeen councilman, Steve Harris that the MUD agreement for the Turnbo Ranch should be investigated?
Question #1: Yes, 46.4 %: The contract was reportedly rushed to approval without the details given
Question #2: Yes, 44.6 %: The city is on the hook for millions In infrastructure.
This is a resounding 91 % of the KDH Poll and I believe the council people should indeed revisit this contractual agreement.
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.

eyewatchingu
eyewatchingu

If you look at Mr Olsen's pass records he is not a man to keep quite. The question we need to ask is why is he quite. He has always been open in all the cities before us. I in my personal opinion is Mr Olsen is being silenced some how.

Alvin
Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.
@Pharon Enochs: Well you did it again. I have to agree with you.
Copy: 'Thank you Mr. Harris for keeping your promise and requesting something which many of members of the community felt was extremely important. Unlike a lot of members of the city council and city administrators including the city manager you have not played the role of Chicken Little running around saying "It's a done deal, "It's a done deal " we got to move on and pay all this money because yep you guessed it, "It's a done deal" Now it becomes a fight to even get your request on the agenda and present is to the council as a whole.' End of copy.
Oh lets hope not. I certainly hope that this council will 'see the light through this thinly veiled plot'. I certainly hope that the majority will see through this as just another way of putting the blinders on this city council in hopes of 'putting then in line with what the city wants to do.
And I certainly agree with Pharon Enochs: in that this was in fact a true and correct representation of 'the time line' consistent with the hiring of Ron Olsen. And I just don't understand 'why' this man was so important that they just had to hire him at the, what I personally think. Is an elevated salary and conditions.
And I agree with you on your observance of where we are living and having the ability to 'voice our opinions', but is anyone listening???? I fear not.
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.

Pharon Enochs

The following comments are indeed the opinions of Pharon Enochs Thank you Mr. Harris for keeping your promise and requesting something which many of members of the community felt was extremely important. Unlike a lot of members of the city council and city administrators including the city manager you have not played the role of Chicken Little running around saying "It's a done deal, "It's a done deal " we got to move on and pay all this money because yep you guessed it, "It's a done deal" Now it becomes a fight to even get your request on the agenda and present is to the council as a whole. If the council approves Olson's suggestion on the method to do so but never the less you have lived up to your promise and nothing keeps the topic from still being talked about by individuals or via the media. I think his idea to put it bluntly stinks. The city in my opinion had made a mockery of being transparent. It's appears transparent has a different meaning for each individual member. In my opinion it is used to further their personal agendas. I also feel for some reason Olson's suggestions are a means which increase the city being even more non transparent. I HAD HOPE THIS GO ROUND THE CITY WOULD HAVE HEARD THE TAXPAYERS AND WOULD TRY TO BE MORE OPEN WITH US BUT BY GOLLY IT SURE DOES NOT LOOK LIKE THIS IS OCCURRING. This just some of the things which kind of chilled my opinion of Olson and the council efforts of being transparent. First comes the hiring of a new city manager . Olson is offered the job, he turns it down, the next thing we know Olson is hired by the city council. I guess there was some closed locked doors, window blinds drawn and lights turned down low meetings by some folks, somewhere to decide to hire him. Next his memo to the council about not asking questions to the audit company and now his idea on how to handle potential agenda items. I really believe Olson needs to stay in his lane but in fairness I personally have very little faith in this council either. The method the audit company was chosen, now trying to change the rules in the middle of the game seem unprofessional to me.
Well I have had my say and these are my opinions and it is great that I/We live in a great country where one can voice their opinions and have the right of free speech. I thank God for allowing us to have these rights and I especially thank all our members of the armed forces for their service so we can have and keeps these rights. Hero 's like General Robert M. Shoemaker one of the greatest American generals this country has ever seen protected theses rights for at least three decades. Thank you sir, rest in peace and God bless you and your family. God bless America, President Trump and John Wayne wherever he may be.

Proud Mother of an Army Avi8er

It should be a conflict of interest for Realtors to be allowed to serve as mayor or as council members. This shouldn't be allowed. Of course they are going to favor development. SMH

Alvin
Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.
Hurray for councilman Harris. It's about time this city council took action on what I believe 'is the correct thing to do, investigate, investigate, investigate'. I too have 'smelled the roses and they do not smell pleasant'. Now if council persons such as Council member, Shirley Fleming, council member, Debbie Nash King, council member, Gregory Johnson, council member, Jonathan Okray would come together and join rank with council member Steve Harris, and vote against city manager Ron Olsen with his proposal to 'limit discussion of any initiative'. I support councilman Steve Harris in this endeavor. Or the old adage is appropriate here: 'Don't cut your nose off to spite your face'. I believe it is time to support councilman Steve Harris in his action to straighten out this city government. Support Councilman Steve Harris. If the current action, to 'have every potential discussion topic proposed by council members brought up for a consensus agreement before the item is ever fully discussed during a workshop.' This, in my personal opinion, would be disastrous for the city council and for the city of Killeen'. Or in other words, 'Don't stifle, wring hands, at an argument that could be the down fall of this city council'. This proposal that is put before this council, by the new city manager, IS WRONG. You have an obligation to 'listen to every comment' and you should not 'turn a deaf ear'.
It's strange to me that Texas allows a group to come together, incorporate into a body that holds sway over the citizens and fellow Texans.
Copy: 'WB Development declined to comment Thursday'.' end of copy.
Just look at what these people have succeeded in doing:
Copy: 'On March 27, the Herald reported Whitis used family and friends to accommodate the creation of the 3,750-home, $238-million development that was formally incorporated by the November 2014 general ballot election.' End of copy.
This action that is talked about is I think it was 2 or 3 people who held sway of what this city was being obligated for, a city that has in excess of 130,000 population. Just 2 or 3 people. Think about it.
Copy: 'The district will function as a governmental entity of his own, with the ability to levy property tax on its residents and issue municipal debt with a board of directors.'
Continuation of copy: 'According to the terms of the agreement signed between Whitis and the city, the city will be responsible for millions in infrastructure improvements to accommodate the district, with the developer fronting some of the cost of the improvements.' End of copy.
But if I remember correctly, the pay back or off set to the city of Killeen 'is way down the road, after most of the installations are completed'. The city of Killeen will be on the hook.
There is still an issue over the fiasco that allowed Georgetown to take ownership of 'some of the water in Stillhouse Hollow Lake, after this bond issue 'was put to bed'. What is the result of this Georgetown ownership going to be in the 'promised' 10 MGD of water that was promised???? You know that this has slid under the table so to speak as the city of Killeen is not pursuing this, the Whitis corporation is. So what is the effect going to be???? Do we or do we not have the promised water????
This I believe is of vast importance to the citizens and to the city of Killeen. Do we rename this city to something more favorable????
I am in support of what councilman Steve Harris is trying to do and so should the majority of this council.
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.

eyewatchingu
eyewatchingu

Hopefully Councilman Harris will be heard. Very smart move Mr. Harris and thank you for keeping your promises. You are a man of your word, and that means more then all the gold n the world.

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