Killeen council members agreed unanimously Tuesday to the presentation format for how the findings of a Killeen finances investigation will be presented, but with one addition.

When Houston-based public accounting firm McConnell & Jones publicly reveals its conclusions, the council wants to see proof that the firm did what it said it was going to do, and specifically, how auditors arrived at those conclusions. It stopped short of asking that tipster’s names be revealed, but requested the type of person — his or her job classification — be mentioned.

Seven key areas are being reviewed, per council authorization.

RECAP

The investigative audit by McConnell & Jones was approved March 14.

Public perception and trust had declined when city administrators failed to share news of declining city finances, kept it quiet for years and then finally acknowledged the city has an $8 million budget shortfall last summer.

Overspending from at least fiscal years 2013-16 was visible in lopsided budgets, and although the city almost balanced the fiscal year 2016-17 budget and began work on 2018, it left in its wake a trail of questionable financial decisions with little or no explanation.

“There appears to be a lack of analysis of the long-term fiscal impact when presenting recommendations to Council,” the McConnell & Jones preliminary report to council reads. “The City lacks critical policies in many areas to guide decision-making.”

The report said the city did not make it easy for council members to make more knowledgeable decisions.

TRANSPARENCY

In discussion that lasted about an hour Tuesday, whether to include the names of sources that provided tips and information to the firm during its examination of city finances — was up for debate.

“How transparent are we going to be if we can’t mention no names?” said Councilman Juan Rivera. “When you say transparency, for me, it’s the whole picture.”

City Auditor Matthew Grady countered by focusing on the potential consequences. It would “certainly have a chilling effect” on any future audits, he said.

City Attorney Kathryn Davis clarified: The names of sources who provided information will be kept confidential, but anyone spotlighted for criminal wrongdoing would be exposed; those names would be public.

The council approved the format and asked for an additional notation on each of one of the findings to show justification.

Councilwoman Debbie Nash-King weighed in by outlining her definition of transparency. From her perspective, providing the public as much detail about the firm’s findings is critical.

“You have to talk to past leaders to see the train of thought … you cannot pull pieces and then put the puzzle together,” Nash-King said. “You have to have the whole view. If you’re going to spend $400,000 and present a package to the residents that have been begging and asking for this, you need to know the whole story.”

The Herald raised questions June 11 concerning the audit firm’s strategy because it had identified trouble locating older documents to support expenditures, but had not contacted several formers city administrators and finance managers. Go to http://bit.ly/2solufz to read that story.

Councilman Jim Kilpatrick, the chairman of the audit subcommittee charged with monitoring the audit’s progress, pushed back on Nash-King, indicating that the council does not have subpoena rights to compel witnesses to come forward.

“We cannot make an individual or employee come talk to us, so therefore, if you’re going to say you want names … the classification of the individual we would like to know,” Kilpatrick said.

Killeen city code, however, says the council does have the power to “inquire into the conduct of any office, department, agency or officer of the city” and to “make investigations as to municipal affairs.”

The city code shows the council “may subpoena witnesses, administer oaths, and compel the production of books, papers and other evidence,” and failure to obey is a misdemeanor.

WHAT’S NEXT

The Audit Advisory Committee will be briefed by the firm on findings Tuesday. It is expected to be a closed session, according Kilpatrick. Following the meeting, the council will be briefed. It also is expected to be closed session.

The firm will provide a draft report July 7 to the council, and city management will be afforded the opportunity to agree or disagree with findings before results become public. A final report July 24 is anticipated with a final presentation.

asierra@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7463

(9) comments

Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.
@Cherbear: I've tried to email using the Cherbear@hotmail.com. Not successful.
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.

Cherbear

Sorry. Just sent you a p.m. on fb.

Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.
@Cherbear: Sounds good. It is my opinion that the more names we can get to write or sign on, the better off we are going to be.
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.
It's too bad that more people are not seeing the light, that more people are not questioning what's going on with this city, that are apparently content to let the city and others ride herd over them with a whimper, have read what's been put in the newspapers and are content to 'let it ride'. I too am not one who will let this happen to the place I call home. And you are correct in the question of 'what's this city council doing, or more correctly, not doing.
Well I have written to the Texas Office of the Attorney General, and to the FBI, now I think I'll be writing to the Texas Rangers next. Somebody, I think, Has to take notice I what's going on around here and in this city. But my question is, why doesn't somebody else have enough gumption to stand up to this city management and at least ask the question of 'what's going on around here and not just take any answer they give you'.
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.

Cherbear

I agree Alvin, let me know when you write to the Texas Rangers. I will give you my name to add on.

Pharon Enochs

Looks like my Parkinson's grew tired of my posting comments and without notice shut me down but have no fear I have returned to finish this posting. So to continue....... efforts to seek the truth did some fact finding and research and printed this information for public consumption. I would hope this would be a learning point for everyone but especially a learning point for city council members.. Get the facts before you speak is always a good rule. It saddens me to say it is only a hope of mine because in my opinion it has become very difficult to get the facts from Killeen city councils because the council holds closed door meetings. Then when the information is made public to many like me have doubt if the information being provided is completely factual. In my opinion this is why there is mistruth in the city councils of the past and up until now the current one as well. Some of us has hoped a breath of fresh air would flow in the council chambers with the recent election of council members and the appointment of a new city manager but up to now it's the same old stale hot air as always. The swamp gets murkier and the swamp creatures continue to grow in size and boldness. Egos and power trips appear to be the guiding factors not concerns for the city nor of the desires and needs of the people. Sound familiar? God bless America, President Trump and John Wayne wherever he may be.

Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.
@Pharon Enochs: Congratulations, you are right on the money.
It is my belief, and personal opinion, that the District 3 councilman does have his head put on straight. I say that as it was this man who said, and I paraphrase here, 'I don't want to micromanage manage the city manager' when this city was in the throws of going right on past the $8 to $10 million dollar mark, plus a number of other, what I consider, blunders and then was put in the position, by non other than our illustrious mayor, Segarra, of placing him in the position of ad hoc subcommittee chairman and immediately started, along with councilman Rivera who have been consistently down in regards to anything at all about any form of audit. And it is my personal belief that this carries on to this day.
Yes I believe you are correct in your statement that 'It is my opinion that Mr. Olsen does not have the authority to impose a 'Texas Open Meetings Act (TOMA)'. The people of this city have the right, since it is ultimately 'their money that this city council is spending so they should have the opportunity to have a say in what is held in secret and what is not'. This city is so used to getting their own way and just blusters their way around regardless of what's right and what's wrong and it's for members of the city council to stop it.
This question has been asked in the past and I reintroduce it here:
Copy: 'Why I ask if the 'Prosperity Central Texas, a political action committee funded by local developer Bruce Whitis, and treasured by former Killeen Mayor Dan Corbin', being handed over to a political action group, such as the 'Prosperity Central Texas, a political action committee funded by local developer Bruce Whitis, and treasured by former Killeen Mayor Dan Corbin' and the fireman's association, to name a few in the first place?' End of copy.
This is a good question and one that should be answered.
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 pinion of this writer.
Copy: 'Killeen council members agreed unanimously Tuesday to the presentation format for how the findings of a Killeen finances investigation will be presented, but with one addition.
When Houston-based public accounting firm McConnell & Jones publicly reveals its conclusions, the council wants to see proof that the firm did what it said it was going to do, and specifically, how auditors arrived at those conclusions. It stopped short of asking that tipster’s names be revealed, but requested the type of person — his or her job classification — be mentioned.
Seven key areas are being reviewed, per council authorization. End of copy.
Question: Do we know the names of the ad hoc committee members???? It is a question that I would like to know. Was it just the names that was represented on the previous articles namely Jim Kilpatrick, Shirley Fleming and Steve Harris. I really would like to know. Can this newspaper provide the ad hoc committee names that was in attendance at this council meeting, June 20, 2017
Also, I would like for this newspaper to provide a copy of this audit document that was signed by the appropriate parties. This too I would like a have a copy of this document printed in this newspaper.
To me it is superfluous indeed to work on the premise that now the city is requesting that the Houston-based public accounting firm McConnell & Jones publicly reveals its conclusions to the public, that the council wants to see proof that the firm did what it said it was going to do, and specifically, how did auditors arrive at those conclusions. It stopped short of asking that tipster’s names be revealed, but requested the type of person — his or her job classification — be mentioned.
If I remember correctly, the city auditor has gone on record of publicly saying no names would be mentioned or provided of people who divulge any information. Well if parties did in fact divulge any information and it comes out in the audit report, doesn't that shoot Mr. Grady in the foot, or more appropriately, in the posterior, and render any and all future information null and void and paint this city in another coat of black paint????
Copy: “There appears to be a lack of analysis of the long-term fiscal impact when presenting recommendations to Council,” the McConnell & Jones preliminary report to council reads. “The City lacks critical policies in many areas to guide decision-making.”
Continuation of copy: 'The report said the city did not make it easy for council members to make more knowledgeable decisions.' End of report..
Lets face it, if this council is now going to 'operate on the basis of 'all facts and figures are to be reported as true and have the documentation to prove it', then I'm guessing that the report, as is now being requested, 'will constitute a change order'. I believe you are making this change as if the city did not provide adequate 'book keeping, invoicing, and the ability to track such things' as noted in the above paragraph, in my opinion it just paints the city of Killen 'in a not so positive light' not to mention that 'this city should 'do their home work an provide all facts and figures, in depth, before they even present it to the council'.
Copy: “How transparent are we going to be if we can’t mention no names?” said Councilman Juan Rivera. “When you say transparency, for me, it’s the whole picture.” End of copy.
Now I would like to know if the names that he wants mentioned names such as the city Manager Morrison, the assistant city manager such as Dr. Farris, and so on, names such as people signing off on overtime time cards of flagrant employees as the one audit figures were said to include. And the list goes on.
Copy: City Attorney Kathryn Davis clarified: The names of sources who provided information will be kept confidential, but anyone spotlighted for criminal wrongdoing would be exposed; those names would be public.' End of copy.
I believe in my own mind that that would be virtually an impossible task. There is always 'leaks' so no future to that endeavor. Look at our National government, it is so porous that the ink isn;t even dry before at least 3 or 4 different organizations are publishing these comments. I won't use the terminology, facts as many of them are proving to be 'Wrong'.
Copy: 'Councilwoman Debbie Nash-King weighed in by outlining her definition of transparency. From her perspective, providing the public as much detail about the firm’s findings is critical.'
Continuation of copy: “You have to talk to past leaders to see the train of thought … you cannot pull pieces and then put the puzzle together,” Nash-King said. “You have to have the whole view. If you’re going to spend $400,000 and present a package to the residents that have been begging and asking for this, you need to know the whole story.” End of copy.
What is it that this city management is still trying to do other than 'provide us with just another example of a witch hunt'???? Spend 400,000 thousand dollars to come up with nothing.
Copy from 'Killeen audit 'swept under the rug?' dated June 10, 2017: “My feeling, sitting in the audience the other night, was totally different than it was on May the second. I felt like ... this audit was being swept under the rug,” Young said. “It just seemed like there was no energy or drive toward getting the answers that the community, I believe, still demands.” End of copy.
Yes I too believe that we are once again being treated like mushrooms and you know what that smells like.
Copy: 'Councilman Jim Kilpatrick, the chairman of the audit subcommittee charged with monitoring the audit’s progress, pushed back on Nash-King, indicating that the council does not have subpoena rights to compel witnesses to come forward.' Now how long has it been since this ad hoc committee met and what was the membership of that committee????
Copy: 'Killeen city code, however, says the council does have the power to “inquire into the conduct of any office, department, agency or officer of the city” and to “make investigations as to municipal affairs.” End of copy.
Yes, this city code 'has the power', but what about 'other agencies such as an outside contractor as it states that 'does have the power to “inquire into the conduct of any office, department, agency or officer of the city” and to “make investigations as to municipal affairs.” I believe it can be successfully argued that this 'cannot take that to the bank'.
Copy: 'The city code shows the council “may subpoena witnesses, administer oaths, and compel the production of books, papers and other evidence,” and failure to obey is a misdemeanor.' End of copy.
Again, what's to happen 'if' they try to use that public city code elsewhere????
Copy: 'The firm will provide a draft report July 7 to the council, and city management will be afforded the opportunity to agree or disagree with findings before results become public. A final report July 24 is anticipated with a final presentation.' End of copy.
Again I want to 'strongly' emphasize that 'this is a matter that the citizens of this city has fought so hard, for over 4 years now, and I don't think that this city management are within their rights 'to once again change city policy, to once again 'call a secret meeting in order to have a first look', and possibly change the verbiage of what is to be for citizen consumption. City of Kileen, 'you do not have that right'. It's citizen's money that you are dealing with, not some money that is your own so secrecy is 'out of the question'. When this document is opened the council should be in 'open session' when the seal is broken.
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. It looks to me like details about the audit which should have been previously covered are now just being discussed and implemented by the council. It also appears the way the audit is to be written , who it is presented by , to whom it is submitted and how it is to be presented are still under discussion and are not fully decided. I would not be at all surprised if the Audit Company told the city council, we can do it your way but it will cost you. If this should happen how transparent will that be? It appears now everything will conducted in closed sessions even when the council members have their little chance to argue about contents of the audit findings. I read where Olson stated the public will get to see the audit. I FIND THIS VERY GENEROUS OF HIM SINCE HE DOES NOT HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO STOP THE PUBLIC FROM SEEING IT IN THE FIRST PLACE. My one concern is will the public see the original document or some doctored piece of paper completed in closed sessions? Closed sessions are an important part of governmental processings but sometimes decisions made are not always right. I believe it was in a closed secession when a decision was made to to pay a former city manager a large sum of money to step away. Closed sessions never give me a warm and fuzzy feeling especially if it is one conducted by the Killeen City Council. The word transparency was bannered about by several members. Rivera gave hIs version, all I can do is "shake my head" The city staff was asking for people to come forward and provide information of any possible wrong doings in the city. They could do this and their names would not be revealed. Apparently Rivera wants all names revealed . I wonder who it was in a closed session who proposed the large sum of money to pay off the former city manager? It was never revealed. It was a closed session and when this decision was made and it was a key factor in the recall election when several council members were recalled and if memory serves me right Rivera was one of those recalled. There is an outcry for the company to speak to former city employees as well as current ones to ascertain if they may have any information on problems they had noted involving monary shortcomings and hopefully any thing they considered done well. I think the outcry was for former city council members as well as current ones about similar topics. Hopefully Rivera will do so and I am sure he will be transparent since he apparently believes in true transparency. Is it just me who felt Kilpatrick not have a clue as what power the city council yields when conducting an investigation. A little research might be an idea before a person make a statement in public which the media 'in it's

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