Contention at last week’s Killeen City Council workshop meeting over funds for a memorial sparked as much confusion as it did emotion.
Former Killeen Mayor Tim Hancock, who sits on the fundraising committee for the Nov. 5, 2009, Fort Hood memorial, appeared before the council requesting that $27,000 sitting dormant in a Killeen Volunteers Inc. account be redesignated toward the construction of the memorial.
His request turned into a volatile shouting match between him and Mayor Dan Corbin, with Corbin asking a police officer to remove Hancock and anyone else who wouldn’t be quiet from the meeting.
Hancock requested leftover funds raised by a committee for the city’s 125th anniversary in 2007. The committee later said it would use the funds to construct a monument commemorating the city’s history.
The council decided in a 5-2 consensus the funds should be used as originally intended.
City Attorney Kathy Davis said city staff believes the money was put into a KVI account because, being a nonprofit, it’s tax exempt, allowing residents who donated to get credit on their taxes.
“It’s one of those strange situations,” she said. “Their board (KVI) has looked at it and they said that they don’t believe they have the authority to say anything about (the funds). They believe it’s technically the city’s money that is sitting over there waiting for the council to decide what to do with it.”
Hilary Shine, city spokeswoman, said the funds can remain in the KVI account indefinitely and the account does not earn any interest.
Councilman Jose Segarra, who favored the funds being left to use as intended, said he supports both causes, but respected the wishes of donors to not transfer the funds.
“It’s not that I don’t support the memorial,” he said. “I think there are ways that each cause can generate money, because they are both great causes.”
Councilman Steve Harris said the city should allocate the funds to the memorial because “Fort Hood contributes so much to our local economy.”
“(Soldiers) are citizens of Killeen. They buy homes, pay taxes. They do everything that Killeen citizens do,” he said. “Because of their contribution, I didn’t see a problem with contributing that small amount of money to that memorial.”
Tuesday’s discussion also generated confusion about the city’s escrow accounts, which are set up to manage funds for specific purposes, and how funds from them can be allocated.
Along with the KVI account, the council also discussed an account containing more than $16,000 for a fountain, but it was determined during Tuesday’s meeting those funds are not tied to the KVI account.
Shine said $16,000 was donated to construct a fountain for the late Paula Brock, who was involved in the city’s Arts Commission. Those funds are held in a Special Events account.
Shine said the city’s external auditor found the city to be in compliance with the management of all 17 of its escrow accounts.
Hancock said about $157,000, with in-kind services factored in, is needed to complete the Nov. 5, 2009, memorial. The site of the proposed memorial is on a parcel of land adjacent to the Killeen Civic and Conference Center. In 2010, a sign was placed on the piece of land to mark its place.
Hancock said in January $160,403 of the estimated $425,000 needed to erect the memorial was raised.
The committee spent $112,197 of the funds to purchase bronze sculptures commemorating the 13 who were killed.