Three directors from a neighboring municipal utility district’s board will no longer formally advise the Killeen City Council after ad hoc committees to which they were appointed were eliminated Tuesday.
The council unanimously voted Tuesday to eliminate advisory groups dedicated to downtown development, transportation and water-sewer-drainage in an effort to institute specific goals and sunset dates on council ad hoc committees.
As part of the council’s Governing Standards and Expectations guidelines passed in June, the council is required to have specific purposes and timelines for ad hoc committees. Those guidelines did not previously exist.
In April 2017, the council created the three committees with the intent of seeking resident input for direction on city water-sewer infrastructure, roads and the future of downtown Killeen.
During a freewheeling appointment session, Councilman Juan Rivera and then-Councilman Jim Kilpatrick placed three directors from the Bell County Municipal Utility District No. 1’s board onto the committees. Kilpatrick is now mayor pro tem for the council.
The council signed a consent agreement with the 3,750-home residential district in 2013, which outlined mutual assistance in developing infrastructure around the district. Those infrastructure improvements included the $20-million expansion of Chaparral Road, the construction of a 1-million-gallon, above-ground water storage tank and improvements to West Trimmier Road leading north from the subdivision.
The district was created by Killeen developer Bruce Whitis, with two of Whitis’ family members voting in a November 2014 Bell County general election to unanimously appoint five residents to the district’s board.
The five board members included former Killeen Mayor Tim Hancock, former Killeen City Councilman Otis Evans, Killeen Realtor Miguel Diaz, Cove construction owner Jason Dewald and Cove teacher Nate Reding.
Whitis is related to both Reding and Dewald, and the two sole voters in the 2014 election: Parker Ryan Watson and John Cunningham, who are Whitis’ second cousins.
Kilpatrick appointed Evans to the water-sewer-drainage committee, and Rivera appointed Hancock to the downtown committee and Diaz to the transportation committee.
On Tuesday, Rivera said the committees had outlived their purpose due to a lack of city funding for projects that made it through committee.
“If we don’t have funding, we want to sit back, see what we need to do and then form a committee,” Rivera said. “Otherwise, we are going to be wasting our time.”
Councilwoman Shirley Fleming and resident James “Jack” Ralston both argued to keep the committees alive, arguing that getting rid of them would stifle resident input into council decision-making.
“The more we can have citizens involved in a committee that gives input to the city is a better path,” Ralston told the council.
The council unanimously agreed to eliminate the committees with the stipulation that the three contested ad hoc committees would be reconsidered for permanent subcommittee status at a workshop Aug. 1.