LOCAL GOVERNMENT

In another heated night for the Killeen City Council, a May 5 election for two City Charter amendments was called by a narrow 4-3 margin after council members sparred over losing oversight of certain financial transfers.

At issue was the first proposed amendment, which would end formal council approval of interdepartmental and intradepartmental transfers in the municipal budget. Section 73 of the charter stipulates the council has final approval of all financial transfers — down to line-item appropriations.

The new amendment would maintain the council’s oversight of interfund transfers — such as the moving of money between the city’s solid waste fund and general fund. However, the city manager would have final oversight of transfers between departments within a fund — for example, between the fire and police departments — and the city’s finance director would have final oversight of intradepartmental transfers, specifically line-item appropriations.

Councilman Gregory Johnson, who said he would advocate against the measure at the ballot box if it passed the council vote, said the amendment would remove checks and balances on city manager authority.

“I’m totally concerned about checks and balances,” Johnson said. “That’s different from micromanagement. Things like this got my city into the challenges it is in now.”

Killeen City Manager Ron Olson told the council the move was not an attempt to close members out of the budget process. Olson said last week the move would allow him to delegate budget management to department heads, giving them more oversight and ownership of their departments.

“What this proposal would do is identify the level at which the council controls the budget,” Olson said. “This move, I believe, would make department heads more accountable to the bottom line.”

Olson noted the current charter language did not prevent the mismanagement of funds that marred the city from 2013 to 2016 — despite the council’s formal oversight of transfers. The current Section 71 language was adopted by voter approval in 2013.

“The system we have right now apparently didn’t work that well,” Olson said. “The system we have right now won’t solve our problems moving ahead.”

Councilman Juan Rivera said even with the amendment, the council would still have effective oversight of transfers, as the council receives quarterly briefings on the budget, and said the council is not responsible for micromanaging the budget after it is approved.

“Once the city manager gets that budget, it belongs to him,” Rivera said. “We hired a city manager to run our city, and it’s up to us to make sure it runs the right way.”

The proposed second amendment, also approved, would stipulate capital improvements be “carried over” multiple fiscal years until completion. The current charter language requires capital improvement appropriations to lapse after every fiscal year and then be re-budgeted the next fiscal year.

Council members Rivera, Debbie Nash-King and Jonathan Okray voted in support of calling the election with Mayor Jose Segarra breaking the tie. Council members Johnson, Steve Harris and Shirley Fleming voted against.

Mayor pro tem Jim Kilpatrick was not in attendance.

kyleb@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7567

(1) comment

Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.

Copy: '“I’m totally concerned about checks and balances,” Johnson said. “That’s different from micromanagement. Things like this got my city into the challenges it is in now.”
Continuation of copy: 'Council members Rivera, Debbie Nash-King and Jonathan Okray voted in support of calling the election with Mayor Jose Segarra breaking the tie. Council members Johnson, Steve Harris and Shirley Fleming voted against.
Continuation of copy: 'Mayor pro tem Jim Kilpatrick was not in attendance.' End of copy.
It's the same cast of characters that I am saying, 'we have a simple majority of basically the same listings with the mayor that can and will 'run this city'. This has been going on for some time now. It's the same council members that control the city council, that control the KEDC who has the voting privilege.
How many times have you witnessed the split of votes that the ayes are 'Council members Rivera, Debbie Nash-King and Jonathan Okray voted in support of calling the election with Mayor Jose Segarra breaking the tie' and 'Council members Johnson, Steve Harris and Shirley Fleming voted in the negative'.

I am in complete agreement with councilman Johnson in that 'we have no authoritative control in this city council and this vote just continues the decline.
It did not matter that councilman (mayor pro tem) Jim Kilpatrick was not in attendance, they, with the support coming from mayor Segarra carried the vote'.
I'm with you and I certainly hope that the citizens of this city will 'see the light' and not vote for these incumbents. We have to take our city, this city back.
Now we'll see how long this article is carried by this newspaper.
And to say that these amendments would enhance the capability of this council, to is hogwash. If this is allowed to move forward that will mean that the city manager and the department heads will and can override this council just like they've done in the past when this council voted to allow the committee's to be taken out of the hands of the city council.
When people tend to grant power to individuals over a council, then that power shifts from the council and thru combined effort rests with the individuals who are now in charge'.
Please see 'KISD board votes to approve bond issue', an article that did not last in this newspaper and it's only 20 hours old. I do not know when it was taken off line.

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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