KILLEEN FINANCES

QUEST FOR AN AUDIT

In early 2016, the Herald saw red flags that Killeen was having city financial problems and tried to pin down information. The Herald's questions to key city officials were met with incomplete answers. The then-city manager and then-mayor said finances were fine. The Herald continued with its questions and coverage. 

On June 30, 2016, interim city manager Ann Farris, who had been over the city's finance department, announced to the council the city was about $8 million short of balancing the proposed budget and had been overspending for years.

The public joined the Herald in seeking more information. Residents demanded a forensic audit. The council stopped short of a forensic audit, but approved an external management audit.

The auditors' management report, completed in September 2017, showed years of financial mismanagement.

Here are the highlights of the Quest for an Audit coverage.

July 2, 2016

By Rachael Riley

The bombshell was dropped late at night during a council meeting: City officials had been overspending for years and it caught up with them. The city was $8 million short of meeting needs in the proposed 2017 budget.

July 10, 2016

By Rachael Riley

Herald staff members had raised question and written stories for several months. These stories on red flags summarize issues the Herald had been covering.

And

Aug. 20, 2016

Herald staff

Who knew and when? We thought the public would have the same questions we did, so we sought answers.

Aug. 25, 2016

Herald staff report

On June 1, 2016, the Herald filed a Texas Public Information request for the city's budget documents. The city fought the request and won. However, city officials presented key information to the public on June 30, 2016.

Sept. 24, 2016

By Angel Sierra and Josh Sullivan

Residents demanded it, some council members requested it, and now a forensic audit appears to be coming to Killeen. But there is no guarantee the investigation into Killeen’s declining finances will be designed for success.

Oct. 3, 2016

By Rose Fitzpatrick and Josh Sullivan

Interim City Manager Ann Farris handled the city’s budget and knew of financial issues as early as 2015, according to a document received by the Herald Monday on the eve of the Killeen City Council’s scheduled discussion about whether to move Farris out of the temporary position.

Nov. 26, 2016

By Angel Sierra

Here’s how firm persuaded the city to forgo a forensic audit:

Feb. 4, 2017

By Angel Sierra

Killeen forensic audit torpedoed?

March 7, 2017

By Angel Sierra

Killeen council reaches a consensus on pursuing an audit, but it is less than expected

March 28, 2017

By Angel Sierra

The council approved a budget amendment to pay for the audit.

May 2, 2017

By Angel Sierra and Josh Sullivan

The auditors' first briefing reported that some Killeen officials misused public money, created a side account for money transfers and made questionable decisions.

June 10, 2017

By Angel Sierra and Rose Fitzpatrick

The new city manager intervened and auditors quit sharing developments during public sessions. 

July 1, 2017

By Angel Sierra and Rose Fitzpatrick

With some Killeen financial records missing and some key managers gone, auditors hired to investigate the city’s finances are finding challenges.

July 15, 2017

By Rose Fitzpatrick

Auditors continue to work on the mysteries of the Killeen city financial decline, and the public can only hope they have the right focus and access to the information they need. Auditors had told the council they couldn’t find some older documents.

July 29, 2017

By Rose Fitzpatrick

A Herald request for documents uncovered reports that city officials ordered documents destroyed in late 2016, as the city was in the middle of choosing firms for an audit of its financial records going back to 2005.

AUDITORS FINDINGS

Sept. 9, 2017

By Angel Sierra

In a 173-page analysis of city finances released Tuesday, Houston-based public accounting firm McConnell & Jones boiled city financial problems down to two main struggles: a history of overspending spanning nearly a decade from fiscal years 2007-2016; and a parade of city managers and finance directors — six of each in a period going back to 1990.

Sept. 9, 2017

By Rose Fitzpatrick

Killeen had a whopping $252.9 million in debt by Sept. 30, 2016, with more than a fourth — 26 cents — of every property tax dollar, going to pay debt service in that fiscal year. That was part of the bond history pieced together by auditors in a report released Tuesday. 

Sept. 9, 2017

By Kyle Blankenship

Auditors said a series of shortsighted expenditures and weak financial controls created a situation in which the council repeatedly voted for large increases in capital improvement without a clear vision of the future.

Sept. 16, 2017

By Rose Fitzpatrick

Killeen residents paid their water and sewer bills each month. They paid their trash bills and drainage fees, too. The payments, perhaps difficult for some to make, would cover services the residents used. All extra money should go to toward maintaining water pipes, trash trucks, maybe curbside recycling. Yes? 

Sept. 16, 2017

By Kyle Blankenship

Four companies secure the majority of city/owner development agreements, and the city has never reviewed developers’ books for construction estimates, despite having the authority to do so. Two of Killeen’s agreements with developers were paid from the city’s operations fund. The findings are among those in the management audit of Killeen’s finances.

Sept. 16, 2017

By Angel Sierra

Just because the management audit of Killeen city finances is over doesn’t mean everyone packs up and goes home — accountability is ongoing.

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