Motions abounded at the Killeen City Council regular meeting Tuesday as council members sparred over a financial policy package that would lower the city’s emergency reserve funds.
As part of a discussion on a policy package, a new stipulation would lower the reserve targets of each city fund from 22 to 25 percent to 18 to 22 percent.
The measure would free as much as $2 million each year for the operational fund, helping to combat a general fund deficit projected each year until 2037. However, it would also limit the city’s ability to pay its bills in the event of a natural disaster by shortening the city’s payment horizon from three months to around 2½.
The general fund has been at the center of attention, with the city drawing it down for over the past few years, and the council approved a proposal by then-Interim City Manager Dennis Baldwin to take $1.67 million from the solid waste enterprise fund to bolster the general fund in January,
At Tuesday’s meeting, Councilwoman Debbie Nash-King proposed amending the policy to keep the fund balance targets at their current rate, but that motion died 5-2 with only Councilman Jonathan Okray in agreement. Okray then proposed a motion to table the policy vote until the fund balance targets were further discussed, but that motion died 4-3.
Finally, the policy as originally proposed was approved 4-3 with council members Shirley Fleming, Steve Harris, Gregory Johnson and Mayor Pro Tem Jim Kilpatrick in support.
In a memorandum for the record prior to the vote, Okray said the new stipulation “put the cart before the horse” by freeing up reserve money without an agreed-upon use for the funds.
Kilpatrick, who originally proposed changing the fund balance targets in November, said the funds the new measure would affect were not currently available to spend, and any future use would go up for council approval.
“We are not putting the cart before the horse,” he said. “We have a cart — let’s vote on that, and then we will decide which team of horses will pull it.”
In other business, the council accepted the dedication of 90 acres of right of way valued at approximately $1.2 million for the planned Heritage Oaks Hike and Bike Trail project and the Rosewood Drive extension.
The land, dedicated by companies owned by the Gary W. Purser Jr. family, would pave the way for approximately $6.5 million in federal funds for the regional project that will create another north-south thoroughfare to Chaparral Road when Rosewood Drive is extended.
Fleming, reiterating that the city would be responsible for approximately $140,000 in annual maintenance for the flood-hazard land beginning in 2020, said she was concerned about the long-term cost of the project and the lack of funding for projects in northern Killeen, which houses her district.
Johnson presented a flyer that he said had been circulated in some Killeen neighborhoods accusing council members like Fleming of seeking to torpedo the bike project and showing favoritism for northern Killeen over the rest of the city.
“I have concerns about this (flyer), and I don’t like it,” Johnson said. “I think it’s downright wrong and immoral.”
The council voted 5-2 to accept the dedication with Harris and Fleming voting in dissent.