By Lisa Soule
Killeen Daily Herald
As Killeen volunteers came together Monday to plot a defense of their resources, a process to cut their budget was put on the back burner.
Last month, City Councilman Dan Corbin had called for "sunset reviews" of all city departments, beginning with the Volunteer Services department.
But Corbin told the Herald on Monday that he had asked the city manager to place those plans on hold until the next budget season.
"There are some technical problems with doing the process," Corbin said, citing public notification requirements. "A better process would be to do this next May during the budget cycle."
While executive board members early Monday were unaware of the plans to stall the process, they gathered at the volunteer services office to prepare for a meeting with the city manager as a precursor to their council presentation.
About a dozen members, who represent various groups under the non-profit Killeen Volunteers Inc. umbrella, reviewed their mission statements, contributions to the community and partnerships.
Volunteer Services Director Joyce Hodson said it is her understanding that the group was formed in 1993 under the City Council's direction.
"Before then, the council was bogged down by several organizations seeking money to fund various activities," Hodson said. "They realized we needed one central organization."
Board member Judy Parker said that under Killeen Volunteers Inc., five separate program committees find the support, resources and leadership of the Killeen Volunteer Services department with its three-person staff.
Parker said she thinks the group is at the top of the budget chopping block because it is a soft target.
"Mr. Corbin could convince citizens we are easy to cut compared to other departments," Parker said.
Board member Alice Wooten agreed.
"You can't cut the fire or police departments or other essential departments," Wooten said. "But it's easy to say, cut volunteers."
However, Wooten called the group a value-added organization. "They are getting more than they're putting in."
For the $260,000 spent, KVI Board Chair Phyllis Bishop said the city is reaping the benefits of more than 67,000 volunteer hours each year.
Bishop said the organizations under the KVI umbrella spearhead quality of life programs such as the Celebrate Killeen Festival, the Christmas Parade and Holiday Under the Stars. Other groups work to beautify the city, train volunteers and sponsor youth events.
While Corbin said he is not targeting KVI, he noted that there are key policy issues that are more pronounced for them than for other groups.
"How much is spent on volunteer services in Copperas Cove, Temple and Harker Heights?" Corbin said of the cities with no volunteer departments. "I think volunteerism is alive and well in our neighboring cities. Volunteers do volunteer work and charities to charity work in places that don't have volunteer service departments."
KVI Board Member Fred Chavez said he is concerned about what would happen to the various programs if the organization was, in fact, dissolved.
"I don't hear 'boo, hiss, how are ya' about who will be taking it over," Chavez said. "A lot of citizens in the community have come to rely on our help. A lot of citizens rely on us so they may continue to be a viable member of society."
Contact Lisa Soule at firstname.lastname@example.org