By Kevin M. Smith
Killeen Daily Herald
Killeen City Councilman Billy Workman plans to revisit the charter amendment discussion as soon as possible in hopes of giving future council members a pay raise. He claims that will encourage more residents to run for office and allow for more accountability.
The council, at its workshop Tuesday, gave the city attorney's office a 4-3 consensus that it does not want to pursue charter amendments for November's election.
Workman asked the council to wait before giving city staff consensus because Councilwoman Claudia Brown was not present at the meeting. But Mayor Timothy Hancock said the council cannot put off decisions because one person is absent.
City Attorney Kathy Davis also emphasized a sense of urgency.
"We're on a short time frame for a November election," Davis said at Tuesday's meeting. "If you're going to have one in November, then we need to get busy."
The city can amend its charter – the document that governs the council and city functions – every two years. Amendments to the charter can be made by an ordinance approved by the majority of the council or by a petition signed by at least 5 percent of the qualified voters or 20,000 registered voters – whichever is less. The petition, if qualified, must then be drafted as an ordinance.
The proposed changes then go to the public for a vote and final approval.
"This charter does not belong to the council; the charter belongs to the citizens," Hancock said at the meeting.
Workman wants the residents to choose whether City Council members get a pay increase from $100 each month to $1,500 to $1,800 each month.
"Because our city has grown to almost 120,000 and we've put in a lot of time working for the citizens of the city, for council members to be effective in the city and not put their livelihood in jeopardy, I feel we need compensation," Workman said in an interview.
Workman, who is retired from the military and works as a substitute teacher in the Killeen Independent School District, said he has been searching for a full-time job since 2004. He said he worries about potential conflicts of interest pertaining to his job and decisions he must make on the council.
By providing more compensation for council members, Workman said, he hopes it will encourage more residents to run for council positions as they would be able to support themselves while serving on the council and avoid conflicts of interest.
Workman said that would allow an average city resident to serve as a council member and be "independently loyal to all citizens."
"This is nothing for myself, this is looking forward," Workman said in an interview.
At the workshop Tuesday, council members Workman, Larry Cole and Juan Rivera voted in favor of a charter amendment election in November – though not necessarily for the pay raise. Council members Otis Evans, Kenny Wells and Mayor Pro Tem Fred Latham voted against a charter amendment in November – though not necessarily against the pay raise. Hancock broke the tie by voting against an election. Brown was absent at the meeting, but Workman hopes to garner her support for a different consensus at the next meeting.
The council did not discuss what the charter amendment might include, just whether it wanted to have an election.
Contact Kevin M. Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 501-7550