• July 31, 2014

Q&A: City official addresses some allegations in lawsuit

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Posted: Sunday, March 17, 2013 4:30 am | Updated: 10:50 pm, Fri Apr 26, 2013.

Hefty allegations against the city of Killeen’s top administrators were made last week in a major lawsuit filed by the city’s former finance director, Barbara Gonzales, who was fired Dec. 12.

The city has had to tread lightly on releasing much of the information for fear of compromising its position in the trial.

Hilary Shine, Killeen’s executive director of public information, answered several questions in hopes of clearing up some of the allegations in the lawsuit.

What is your salary? When was your last pay raise? Did you receive a retroactive pay raise for the months between October 2011 and April 2012?

My annual salary is $97,363. My last pay raise was when (the Killeen) City Council approved a reclassification and salary adjustment of my position on Sept. 13, 2011, with the adoption of the fiscal year 2011-12 budget. The reclassification was made so that the executive director of public information position, which has been a department head since 2001, was classified and compensated similarly to other department heads in the organization. It was also the result of a reorganization that added new duties and responsibilities to the public information department. This adjustment was effective Oct. 1, 2011. It was processed in April 2012, which resulted in a lump payment of compensation earned but not yet paid for the months of October 2011 to April 2012.

The public information officer position was also reclassified with the adoption of the fiscal year 11-12 budget because of organizational restructuring and increased job duties.

Does the city allow employees to charge meals on the purchasing cards when per diem is received for the same trip? If not, when did the city change this policy?

City policy allows the charge of business meals (defined as any meal in which the main purpose is to conduct city business) on P-cards. Business meals are not subject to per diem limits and are at the discretion of a department head or the city manager.

If per diem was advanced to an employee prior to travel, and a business meal occurred during travel, the per diem paid is either deducted from the employee’s other expenses when submitting a travel expense report or is reimbursed to the city by the employee.

When was the last time the city of Killeen paid for an employee to stay overnight at a conference in Austin, Waco or Round Rock? Has the city changed its policy for employee travel expenses since the 2011 external audit?

City policy allows employees to stay overnight in Austin, Waco or Round Rock so long as approved in advance by the department head or city manager.

Please refer to the document entitled “2011 Audit Comments” which says: “We noted that several conferences were attended in Austin that the employee stayed overnight without obtaining proper approval. According to the travel policy, if the trip is within a reasonable travel distance (Waco, Round Rock, Austin) no overnight travel unless approved.”

Both the policy and the notes I quoted above from the auditors clearly state that staying overnight in those cities is acceptable so long as approved in advance. The only change to the travel policy is the annual update of the mileage reimbursement amount to the new IRS rate each year.

What documentation is required of city employees for reimbursements of employee expenditures?

Employees must fill out a travel expense report that itemizes expenses such as mileage, per diem for meals, parking fees, transportation fees, tips, etc. An employee should attach the following to a travel expense report: a program or agenda for the conference or seminar attended; all receipts for charges to personal credit cards; receipts for items expended out of your travel advance, i.e. lodging expenses. (Receipts for meals covered by your per diem are not required); if out-of-state trip, approval memorandum from the city manager’s office must be submitted.

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