ELECTION 2018

The Killeen City Council approved a $7.8 million trail and road extension contract with a Belton-based construction firm in a contested 4-3 vote Tuesday.

Last week, council members raised concerns over a recent wrongful death lawsuit filed against James Construction Group, who was tabbed as the low bidder for the 0.6-mile extension of Rosewood Drive and the construction of two segments of the Heritage Oaks Hike and Bike Trail in southeast Killeen.

In what is becoming a familiar bloc, council members Gregory Johnson, Shirley Fleming and Steve Harris voted against awarding the contract Tuesday, saying they were following the will of their constituents during the vote.

Mark Buchanan, a representative for James Construction, addressed the council, saying the public discussion Feb. 20 about the firm’s litigation without consulting the group was irresponsible.

“Litigation happens,” Buchanan said. “Unfortunately we all deal in a litigious society, and I do not want that to be a bar to a contract for work.’

Killeen city attorney Kathy Davis said because James Construction had been chosen by a city committee from among four sealed bids and recognized as the low bidder, there was little recourse for the council to bar the firm from being awarded the contract.

“We don’t have a lot of leeway not to accept the contract,” she said.

Killeen Director of Public Works David Olson said he and city staff felt comfortable with James Construction, which previously contracted with the city for work on the Rosewood Drive and Interstate 14 intersection. Olson said James Construction’s record had been vetted during the bidding process and presented no glaring red flags.

“We feel very confidently that we can say they are a good construction company,” he said.

Council members Juan Rivera, Jonathan Orkray and Debbie Nash-King and Mayor Pro Tem Jim Kilpatrick voted to approve the contract.

In other business, the council unanimously approved a $673,673 contract with Bruce Flanigan Construction for the 10th phase of the city’s Septic Tank Elimination Program.

The newest phase will bring city sewer access to 101 homes in the Tucker Subdivision at 6000 S. Clear Creek Road. The city estimated the cost to homeowners who opt into the program will be $1,800.

Olson said Tuesday the city’s elimination initiative would likely continue indefinitely as the city expands its corporate limits to the south and attempts to bring more homes onto the city’s sewer system.

“We will continue this program as we annex and will continue to address those homes within our city limits,” he said.

Olson told the council the program began in consultation with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to reduce the risk of sewage tank flooding in city neighborhoods.

The council also:

Tabled a zoning change and future land use map adjustment for about a 20-acre plot of land east of the Clear Creek Mobile Home Park on Clear Creek Road. The zoning change would clear the way for the construction of roughly 60 duplexes on the narrow rectangular plot.

kyleb@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7567

(7) comments

Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.
@TexaSolder: This is the way I feel also. I view him as a turncoat plain and simple. He was for it then when he got elected he started drifting over to the other side.
No I do not think you are incorrect in your assessment in that a representative government is the key to free objectives, opinions, which are the causative effects of our freedom. But I don't see any semblance of this in the city of Killeen, and that is just my personal opinion.
We are stifled by the secrecy that abounds in this city, by the fact that this form of government, 4 council persons representing a simple majority which can and will 'control what is to go on in this city'. A good and sound example of this is the way this city manager seemed to be saying that before a council person could get a measure, any measure to the council it should be introduced for discussion and the council must be afforded the chance to vote on whether or not the measure could even be called for a vote. To my knowledge, this has only been introduced one time in regard to the councilman Harris wanting to put a moratorium on the water plant construction. I thought it was a very worthwhile gesture but the big 4 did not and you know who I am talking about.
And the fact that this council and city manager seems to drift first one way and then the other as in this measure to have a city council vote on the ability to perform a hike and bike trail and to build roadways and a bridge in the same measure to be voted on. It says, to me, that this city can just do what they want, period. I am of the opinion that this is a measure that should be voted on city wide and not just to the city council expectations as this is too much money and it involves too many variables for this group of 4 to control.
The fact that the city council and mayor did not want the public being able to 'view all that was presented in the audit, and we still do not have 'the complete story'. And I could go on and on.
The fact that this council voted to include in 1990 the KEDC and even gave them the presence to go around the council and impede this city with respect to having the ability to contractually obligate this city without the formal authorization of the city council, as in the ability to write contracts without city council formal authorization, or even being notified of all 7 members of the city council. And with this notice being formalized, the three KEDC board members who reside in the city management council/mayor relationship I feel is counterproductive to this city's best interest. And I could go on and on.
No, my personal opinion of this city is that it does not have the best interest interest in it's citizens focusing only on it's inter-most self profiles. This is what is my personal opinion but some of this newspapers staff does not want to allow me my personal freedoms, such as my freedom to speak openly on matters that concern me so I am only allowed to write one single item of interest and are excluded from writing on any other subject as they have said that I am to purchase this internet KDH news articles that is provided free of charge to everybody else. So goes this 'Freedom of Speech' which the newspapers freely take advantage of.
I wonder what freedoms are going to be taken away next????
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.

TexaSoldier

@Alvin. A lot of good points.
And, yes, "Mr. Okray has (in) my estimation made a complete 180 degree turn." This is very unfortunate because I use to have considerable political respect him but that is pretty much gone now. I think he is being influenced or chosen to be influenced by certain factions that are unhealthy for a representative government and for the cause of freedom. This may be overly idealistic; nonetheless, the more citizens and government are bound by the cloak of obligation and the yoke of debt, the less free they become. We hear the constant mantra: "we are not as bad (or in debt, or taxed) as much as...[fill in the blank]. That is neither visionary nor a display of leadership. Try that type of "leadership" at home and see how well it works. LOL

Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.

@TexaSoldier: I will to try and answer your questions, Yes he did almost all of the footwork to recall the council members and mayor Hancock over the city manager Green and his rapid departure that exposed what some believe could be labeled a 'A Pay-off'. The mayor and the the current city administration still to this day has not been forthright in an explanation as to 'what happened'. Mr. Okray has to my estimation made a complete 180 degree turn in that he first was going to fire the city council with hopes that a new batch of conservative council persons could 'straighten this city out'. But alas, it was not to be.
With the 'retirement of mayor Hancock' came mayor Dan Corbin who was instrumental in setting the course for the 4,500 home development, but instead settled to the agreed upon number of 3,750 homes. Along with that there was a push to build a new water treatment/sanitation sewer system with the Stillhouse Hollow gaining favor over Lake Belton as it was stated that this reservoir could successfully handle the 10 MGD that was to be provided. So the then city council authorized the then city manager, Mr. Morrison, to pay a $5 million startup fee to 'get the ball rolling'.
Now the transportation division, which should be in charge of new roadways and the ongoing maintenance and upkeep of those roads along with any new and existing bridges. This,in my opinion, would be and should be a separate division from the parks and recreation division and should handle such entities as the 'Hike and Bike Trail. Two completely separate divisions entirely.
Today we have gone through a number of iterations of funds for the various hike and bike trails plus a number of iterations of streets and roadways. First it was stated that to accommodate the new high school new streets would have to be put in plus a bridge that would be capable of supporting 4 new lanes of traffic plus a 5th center left turn lane and that was also included in the new bridge structure as well. So that left the city of Killeen requiring a $40 plus million dollar bond requirement. This was also coupled with a $426 million dollar bond to build that new high school on the South end of town.
Note: The 3,750 homes to be constructed is just outside of the city limits and as was told by the Mayor Dan Corbin, and I paraphrase, 'there was no activity to include the consortium of residences into the city limits and the time limit was expressed as at least 20 years, if ever'. So the city of Killeen has had to bear the cost of increasing police department, bear the cost for ambulance service, bear the cost of the new water and sanitary sewer system and now increase roadway and bridge service to include this new 3,750 home development. So this entails a lot of increased traffic to support this new housing development that will be just outside of the Killeen city property lines.
To try and curtail the total overall bond costs, someone in the city administration decided to tie the hike and bike trail in with the roadways and bridge construction and 'send this through the city council' as it is noted that there have been for a number of years city council members who, as a minimum, will have as a minimum at least 4 council members who generally vote in accordance with 'what the city fathers want'. This then supports the minimum majority of 4 out of 7 council members that can vote and is a simple majority. In all cases, when there is a tie in the vote, the mayor fulfills his role to assume the positive role in breaking the tie which results in the vote going in the direction of, the city's positive movement.
Now I am of the opinion that a cost, such as this in which the city can initiate a 'Hike and Bike Trail which will cost millions of dollars in which the residents of this city can and will be obligated to pay for such costs, and should be taken out of the hands of such a minority vote of the majority, 4 out of 7 council members and should instead be put before the citizens of this city in a form of a bond measure without even going before the city council. When do you, or have you seen this form of government being conducted in the past, that a small group of 4 city council persons can, and does exercise the firm commitment of building roadways and a bridge and tie it into a Parks and Bike Trail authorization.
Copy: 'In what is becoming a familiar block, council members Gregory Johnson, Shirley Fleming and Steve Harris voted against awarding the contract Tuesday, saying they were following the will of their constituents during the vote.'
Continuation of copy: 'What about the other familiar block of Council members Juan Rivera, Jonathan Orkray and Debbie Nash-King and Mayor Pro Tem Jim Kilpatrick that it seems they always vote to approve that/a contract'. End of copy.
It seems that this breakdown generally follows that familiar pattern.
Copy: ' 'Killeen city attorney Kathy Davis said because James Construction had been chosen by a city committee from among four sealed bids and recognized as the low bidder, there was little recourse for the council to bar the firm from being awarded the contract.'
Continuation of copy: “We don’t have a lot of leeway not to accept the contract,” she said.' End of copy.
Isn't it always the case that whenever this city meets with an upheaval that some of the city council persons 'object' to what this city council does or says, then the legal arm or the city manager's office seems to phrase the objection in such a way so as to make it appear that 'there is nothing to be done' in cases of this magnitude, IE: ' We don’t have a lot of leeway not to accept the contract'.
My question would be, if this was a 'sealed bid' and it was of such a margin so as to be almost 30 percent below the estimate provided by the city group, why then didn't it cause the city committee group to wonder 'why' this organization could place a low bid in the first place'???? And why was this city entertaining such a long, 800 days, contract in the first place. To my knowledge, it does not take 800 days for concrete to cure, only approximately 30 days to reach 90 percent of strength.
And to sum it all up, I acquiesce to your statement: 'I guess if you are in office long enough, you realize how your bread is buttered.' and further to your statement: 'It’s amazing that just not too long ago, the city council had brouhaha over a budget shortfall. Are we now that much better off that we can waste money on a hike and bike trail?' Yes this city does seem to march to a different drummer than the rest of us and I say to you that this city management, when it comes down to activities such as a budget that addresses such activities as $1.2 million for roadway maintenance and construction but only budgets $300,000, well it doesn't seem to this writer that 'we will not be able to continue to operate our roadways with this amount of money'.
I applaud these dissenting voters for 'taking care of city business' over the objections of these remaining council persons'. I say, 'if you are elected to an office in which to protect the assets of this city and monitor what is going on, you have the obligation to perform as if it was your own personal assets' and not fall into the trap of ' it's the city's money'.
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.

TexaSoldier

What has happened to Jonathan Orkray? He made a name for himself protesting corruption and waste of money while leading the recall. He originally claimed to be conservative, now it looks like he has been co-opted by the same type of people. I guess if you are in office long enough, you realize how your bread is buttered.
.
It’s amazing that just not too long ago, the city council had brouhaha over a budget shortfall. Are we now that much better off that we can waste money on a hike and bike trail?

Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.
Just a question: 'Is the design and engineering work already completed with a full set of completed design and construction plans, issued for construction, and have soil samples been pulled, tested and ready for issue for the bridge and roadway surfaces.
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.

Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.
To add a note pertaining to this writing on this article, 'It is my personal opinion that this is a case of it should be sent to the citizens of Killeen in that this council should not be encumbered with the necessity of voting this large indenture and not be placed in the hands of the same people.
As was said by the 3 people that voted negatively, that 'They were voting the will of their constituents', in my opinion, this is another case of 'Were do you go to find good people that will cast their vote in accordance with the will of the people.
Another point that should be brought out is 'where is the money going to come from as this city is already being hampered by not having the funds in which to compliment their known roadways that are already in existence.
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.

Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.
Copy: 'In what is becoming a familiar bloc, council members Gregory Johnson, Shirley Fleming and Steve Harris voted against awarding the contract Tuesday, saying they were following the will of their constituents during the vote.' End of copy.
With this being said, 'What about the other block of Council members Juan Rivera, Jonathan Orkray and Debbie Nash-King and Mayor Pro Tem Jim Kilpatrick that it seems they always vote to approve that contract'. I believe this could be shown as a major political move of the same 4 council persons voting as a block in which this soft majority can always be considered as a majority to approve. This is one of the reasons that I have been presenting what the city manager has said is a 'super majority' and this could be just another example of 'why it so necessary'.

Well then it follows that when a group of 4 council persons form a collective in that they almost certainly vote in accordance with the city dictates of this administrative group and this has been the most prevalent within this city for years now. As I have already stated, and it can be shown that this city within a city does at it's own behest, strive to almost always be for the good of the builders association.
Copy: 'Mark Buchanan, a representative for James Construction, addressed the council, saying the public discussion Feb. 20 about the firm’s litigation without consulting the group was irresponsible.'
Continuation of copy: '“Litigation happens,” Buchanan said. “Unfortunately we all deal in a litigious society, and I do not want that to be a bar to a contract for work.’
Continuation of copy: 'Killeen city attorney Kathy Davis said because James Construction had been chosen by a city committee from among four sealed bids and recognized as the low bidder, there was little recourse for the council to bar the firm from being awarded the contract.'
Continuation of copy: “We don’t have a lot of leeway not to accept the contract,” she said.' End of copy.
To say that the representative for James Construction company, Mark Buchanan, has said that 'the council was wrong in their treatment of the organization in their Feb 20, 2018 by the head person whose duty it is to organize and call for a table of contents of a stated city council meeting. Now who was the one that would be responsible???? As I understand it, it should have been either the city manager, the mayor, or any 2 of the councilmen/women so there is a lot of leeway, or wiggle room, in that procedure.
In the comment that the city attorney, Ms. Kathy Davis, said, 'We don't have a lot of leeway to accept the contract'. But in saying that I believe she was say, 'but there is some discretion to be considered as to accepting this contract'. And who was on the city committee that originally 'chose' this organization from the list of 4 sealed bids? Was they even aware of this contractors red marks and the fact that they were approximately $3 million dollars, almost 30 percent below the estimated bid????
Copy: 'Killeen Director of Public Works David Olson said he and city staff felt comfortable with James Construction, which previously contracted with the city for work on the Rosewood Drive and Interstate 14 intersection. Olson said James Construction’s record had been vetted during the bidding process and presented no glaring red flags.'
Continuation of copy: “We feel very confidently that we can say they are a good construction company,” he said.' End of copy.
Why was it even a consideration then, not that this company under bid by approximately 30 percent. We should all be content to have a company under bid. A lot can happen in the extensive amount of time you have allotted this company, I believe it is 800 days, for a job that should be completed in at the most 6 to 10 months, if you mobilize your work force with good scheduling and planning, or within a year, 365 days if due to in-climate weather conditions. What is the expected start date for this contract????
Copy: 'In other business, the council unanimously approved a $673,673 contract with Bruce Flanigan Construction for the 10th phase of the city’s Septic Tank Elimination Program.'
Continuation of copy: 'The newest phase will bring city sewer access to 101 homes in the Tucker Subdivision at 6000 S. Clear Creek Road. The city estimated the cost to homeowners who opt into the program will be $1,800.'
Continuation of copy: 'Olson said Tuesday the city’s elimination initiative would likely continue indefinitely as the city expands its corporate limits to the south and attempts to bring more homes onto the city’s sewer system.'
Continuation of copy: “We will continue this program as we annex and will continue to address those homes within our city limits,” he said.' End of copy.
It is my understanding that it has been said that the city does not intend for the 3,750 home construction to be incorporated into the city limits, so what impetus is there for voting to include this city when 'they will already have all of the iminities of a city type dwelling???? They are already going to be on the city of Killeen water supply and waste water systems, will already have access to the police and fire, emergency services, and will be entitled to the KISD. What more could they wish for????
And what of the sentence, ' The city estimated the cost to homeowners who opt into the program will be $1,800.' I gather by this statement that 'if a person does not wish to be included, with the cost being $1,800 dollars, they can opt out of the city sewer. So we are spending $673,673 on a contract that does not make it obligatory for the individual home owner to have city sewer service. Such a deal.
Copy: 'The council also:
Tabled a zoning change and future land use map adjustment for about a 20-acre plot of land east of the Clear Creek Mobile Home Park on Clear Creek Road. The zoning change would clear the way for the construction of roughly 60 duplexes on the narrow rectangular plot.' End of copy.
All I have to say is – 'good that it is being tabled.
One more thing on this contract going forward, is there going to be some clause that once the contract is let to this contractor no change orders will be accepted without going before this city council and that the contract is to considered firm in nature. Lets see how this company conforms. This it would seem to me to be a general clause that would be set in motion for all contracts of this nature.
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.

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