The Killeen City Council approved an investigation of city finances Tuesday, voting 5 to 2 to hire Houston-based public accounting firm McConnell & Jones.

Work on seven areas of concern will start next week, beginning with a “visioning” meeting to discuss council concerns at the next workshop, City Auditor Matthew Grady said. Firm partner Odysseus Lanier is expected to attend.

The vote passed after more than a half hour of back-and-forth between council members, escalating at one point to Councilman Jim Kilpatrick attempting to address Councilman Jonathan Okray directly, which would have violated meeting rules.

Kilpatrick took issue with Okray’s sharp line of questioning, after asserting there is no evidence of criminal wrongdoing. Okray suggested the council had neither the experience nor certification to say that there was no negligence or criminal wrongdoing responsible for the city’s financial problems, and that is precisely why an investigation is needed.

Council members and residents learned in June that the city was $8 million short in its budget, and had been overspending for years without indications raised of a problem. Residents called for a forensic audit of the city’s finances during problems periods, which according to city data is consistently between fiscal years 2013 to 2016.

The approval Tuesday was for less than the forensic audit sought by residents, but still had to overcome opposition. Councilman Juan Rivera and Kilpatrick voted against it.

“We’re still paying $350,000 for the job that you could have done,” Rivera said to City Auditor Grady. “Why in the world are we going to go ahead and get someone from outside to do your job? Can you explain that to me?”

City memorandums show the actual cost to be $394,456, and would be paid biweekly instead of a lump sum.

Grady responded by saying he was just one person, and that the amount of material to review would take longer than what was acceptable to the council.

“There’s a lot of stuff you wanted to look at, (and) it would take me a while to do it," Grady said. He also referenced issues with independence and credibility if a city employee were to investigate the city.

“Three hundred and fifty thousand dollars for credibility?” Rivera shot back. “All because five or six people are complaining about this? Because that’s all the people complaining, it’s only five or six people.”

Rivera grossly underestimated the number of outraged residents that appeared at City Hall last fall, causing the Council Chambers to swell with so many people that some overflowed to the hallway.

Kilpatrick recommended trusting past councils and administrators at face value, despite recorded delays with financial reports and problems with transparency in the previous administration. He supported his decision against an investigation by citing impromptu, nonscientific polling he conducted by talking to constituents in his voting district.

“In the past two weeks I’ve had the opportunity to personally talk via person-to-person, phone or email to 162 registered voters in District 3,” he said. “My results show 87 percent do not feel an external audit is a burning issue or is even their No. 1 issue. Ninety-four percent do not believe any money is missing or criminal activity occurred from 2002 to 2016.”

Kilpatrick went on to say that 98 percent want the money spent on a senior center, books or computers for the library, or infrastructure or public safety expenditures.

In a later comment, the councilman said he talked to 164 people.

Kilpatrick led the ad-hoc audit committee, based on direction from the council, to securing a contract with McConnell & Jones, a firm that said it did not recommend a forensic audit.

Young supported an investigation, but did not completely agree with the current plan, which leaves out whole departments and instead deviates from the original request to bidders.

“I find in the community, the people that I talk to, that there is an overwhelming desire to get to the bottom — whatever the answer is,” Young said. “I have no doubt that Mr. Grady could do (an audit), given enough time and given enough resources, but (he has) a lot of other fish to fry.

“The items that are going to be covered ... are separate and apart from the tasking that this council will do should we ever have that meeting to give him guidance as to things we want him to check on a day-to-day basis,” Young said. “His job is separate and apart from this type of a function. ... I think that we would be doing ... an injustice to those people in the community who have legitimate questions.”

WHAT’S NEXT

A visioning meeting will be held Tuesday at the council’s workshop to discuss council concerns, and work will begin next week.

A mid-audit briefing is May 16, and the project could be done by July 31.

asierra@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7463

(6) comments

Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.
@eyewatchingu: This is very good information for one to have. But I wonder if this city will comply. I agree with the premise that it will be complied with. Thanks again.
One of the few who voted.

eyewatchingu

@Alvin Texas public information act (pia)
Public info includes any information that is collected, assembled, or maintained by or for a government entity, regardless of the format. Public info can include city related emails, or text on a city officials personal devices/accounts in most cases most be released to the public because it is presumed to be public info and must be released with a written request. Pg 15 under the guide to becoming a city official of the Killeen Tx Candidates packet ( the big black binder)
So now that both Rivera and Kilpatrick made it publicly know that were using email and contacting citizens, it is now public info and can be released. So if you want the truth now they have laid their cards on the table and you can make them flip their cards. All because they publicly stated this and made it public, that opened them up to the PIA and they will have no leg to stand on.
Wow this Candidate packet is amazing, I suggest every citizen go get one. You have the right to have one, it is public info and all this should be on the city website yet it is not.
See I have been spending my time reading this page by page, and looking up what I don't understand and I have found so much that our city council do not follow. I really think that a person that is running for office should read their candidate book first.

Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.
To start off in mid stream, the comment made by councilman Rivera, I would say, 'If the city council of 2011, 2012, 2013 had done the job and 'not' sidelined the forensic audit when it was first called for, Mr. Matthew Grady, the city auditor would not be pressed 'to do the job this council and previous councils had not done in the first place', so . Lets get on with the amalgamates 'management audit' that is being called for. For once do what the citizens of this city are asking for, not what the 'city management' wants. So councilman Rivera, lets just back off from this high horse you seem to be riding. That is the personal opinion of this writer.
And as to the position of councilman Kilpatrick, I agree with councilman Okray, I also do not think that it is in your best interests to state what the qualifications of any of the councilpersons are and especially you councilman Kilpatrick especially since you were quoted as saying 'you did not not want to micromanage the, at that time,city manager, especially since the fallout that's transpired between this council and the city administrative staff who are quoted as 'loosing in the amount of $8 million plus'. Now it's hard to estimate 'just what amount that will come out of this investigation, but in the end, we will know or have a better understanding of the amount'.
Copy: “Three hundred and fifty thousand dollars for credibility?” Rivera shot back. “All because five or six people are complaining about this? Because that’s all the people complaining, it’s only five or six people.” End of copy.
What, you don't read the newspaper???? This newspaper has completed a survey of this city's population and it has been stated that 80% to 85% is in fact in the favor of this council conducting a 'forensic audit', not the mere 6 or 7 people you state. Better catch up on your reading, that is in my opinion.
And councilman Kilpatrick, as for the numbers you state you have talked to, I believe 162, of individuals who are of the opinion, via person to person or email, registered voters in District 3, and results indicate that 87% do not feel an external audit is a burning issue. Do you have an corroboration to this claim that you can present to this council and the results of which can be shared with this newspaper???? I am a resident of the 3rd District and I don't believe you contacted me in regard to this question. I you would have I would probably have brought to your attention the fact that 'you have not provided me with the burning question I have been asking for so long now I can't even remember at which point I first began asking the question, 'who are the members of the administrative group that comprises the Killeen city administrative group since the city charter is a council/city manager form of government'. Are you prepared to answer this question at this moment in time????
And as to the 2nd part of your statement, '98% want the money spent on a senior center, books, or computers for the library, or infrastructure or public safety, I would just ask, 'In what form did you state your question???? As for as I'm concerned, the budget with approximately 60% going to 'public safety' is by far ample to do the job.
And for councilman Young, I applaud you for standing up to councilman Rivera and councilman Kilpatrick, Bravo. It is my personal conviction that this has been long overdo. Bravo.
This has been a condensed version of my personal opinions.
One of the few who voted.

timebandid

I have always agreed that the city needs to conduct a forensic audit. I am afraid that this is not what we the citizens of Killeen are getting. I believe that the council has allowed themselves to be caught in a "Bait and Switch" scenario with this audit. What has been promised by this firm is not in line with what was requested. With each of our two previous mayors, Corbin and Cosper, as well as our current mayor, Rivera, all in opposition of conducting an audit, it really leads one to wonder if there is something hidden that they are concerned will be brought to light. I, personally, hope that there is no illegal activity to be found, but that does not mean that I don't want answers to the questions about our city's finances. Maybe when the audit is complete, we will have those answers. Only time will tell.

Pharon Enochs

This posting is in deed the opinion of Pharon Enochs I agree 100% with Mr. Smith and feel he is spot on in his remarks. Mr. Rivera and Mr. Kilpatrick remarks serve to reinforce the need for an audit. Mr. Rivera's count of how many people want an audit and Mr. Kilpatrick apparently does not know how many people he said he spoke with as he changed his count of the number only seem to me their math skills are lacking which are important when reviewing budgets. Both are sure there was no criminal activity. If they are why not an audit ? Mr. Rivera was on the council when Mr. Green was paid a large sum for a buy out and by some accounts was the one who broached the pay out amount. As an end result of this he was recalled as a council member. This gives concern to question his reason for not wanting an audit is there anything else that might be discovered by an audit. I believe Mr. Corbin stated words to the effect people did not under stand the budging system used by the city and the city had been in a money crisis for sometime. While it no doubt true the main stream citizens do not have a full understanding of the city's budgeting system. The city is suppose to hire professionals that do know these procedures. I, myself, a committee of one then believe either the professional did not understand the system or they did understand and chose to with hold the news from the citizens. As far as all the committees the city government has I get the feeling these committees prove a point, when a committee sets out to design a race horse it turns out being a camel. I do appreciate the majority of the council in approving an audit and especially appreciate the remarks and position of Mr. Young as to the type of audit is an injustice to the public. The city image has been damaged by a lot of things and to some degree by a council which disregards the will of the people no matter how much a council member tries to ignore the number. The city council inability to make timely decisions is another straw on the camel's back. How many more straws can be put on the camel's back before he falls down. I would hate to see another recall of council members so I take the liberty to suggest the camel is about ready to fall.

Johnny Smith

I am of the opinion that Kilpatrick should be taken off of the Audit committee. He and Rivera are part of the good ole' boys that are obviously supported by Corbin and Cosper and have never supported the Forensic audit now called some other ridiculous term. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck then it is a dang duck; call it the forensic audit that it should have been called a long time ago.
This forensic audit should have gone to a more qualified firm and completed by now.
Kilpatrick and Rivera are covering for their good 'ole buddies because they may also be suspect. They were warned about the 'red flags' with Morrison but did nothing to stop his alleged misconduct, misappropriation and/or major mismanagement of funds.
Hats off to Councilmember Fleming, Young, Okray, Johnson and Moore for listening to the majority of the citizens. This survey was conducted by KDH not some nonsense survey without support from Kilpatrick.
SHAME ON Rivera and Kilpatrick for listening to their own self interest. The story of Corbin, Cosper, Morrison's and the good ole' boys way of thinking; their big fat pocket book!

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