By Sean Wardwell
Killeen Daily Herald
Changes in state law will soon cause Killeen to spend about $30,000 more on city elections.
City Attorney Kathy Davis informed Killeen council members Tuesday in a pre-council meeting workshop that Senate Bill 100, which implemented the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act of 2009, eliminates the county's ability to assist city elections in even-numbered years.
That act requires ballots be sent to military and overseas voters 45 days prior to an election, including runoffs and primaries. As primary elections and subsequent runoffs are held in March, county clerks would not have enough turnaround time to assist with and prepare voting machines for May municipal elections.
Davis presented council members with three options to address the problem - moving city elections to November to be administered by the county, holding elections in May of odd-numbered years or continuing May elections in even-numbered years.
Moving elections to November, according to Davis, would continue to eliminate City Hall as a polling location and move city issues to the bottom of the ballot. Moving elections to May in odd-numbered years would mean not staggering council terms for an election, providing the possibility of 100 percent turnover.
However, both of those options also would require a one-time extension of the terms for the mayor and the at-large councilmen from a period of six months to a year after the next election to provide for full terms. Both options would require an amendment to the city charter, as well.
Davis said city staff recommended the third option of retaining May municipal elections in even-numbered years, citing voter familiarity with the existing process and the fact that no charter amendments would be required.
"The one con of this option is that it would require us to rent voting equipment from an outside company," Davis said. "This would increase our costs from roughly $20,000 to $50,000. So, it's a $30,000 cost to rent the equipment."
Council members reached a consensus in the workshop to take the third option of retaining May elections in even-numbered years despite the increased cost. Since the decision does not alter existing city policy, no vote was required in the regular meeting.
In other business, the council:
Voted to approve a memorandum adopting a fund balance and operating revenue fiscal policy statement.
Voted to table discussions regarding forming an outside group to develop a possible children's museum and a dog park in Killeen until next week's workshop.
Contact Sean Wardwell at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7552.