LOCAL GOVERNMENT

The Killeen City Council put the finishing touches on a set of proposed changes to the city charter Monday during a special workshop led by Mayor Pro Tem Debbie Nash-King in Mayor Jose Segarra’s absence.

City Manager Kent Cagle spoke officially for the first time on the matter of City Council oversight at the last scheduled meeting before a charter-related town hall scheduled for Dec. 13.

Regarding the potential adoption of a proposal that would empower the City Council to terminate heads of departments, Cagle cautioned the body that it would be in violation of the council-manager form of government the city currently employs, and that it could have negative ramifications for employment options.

“The council-manager form of government was created to keep staff out of politics,” he said, adding that the system took “the worst aspects” of the mayor-council and council-manager forms of government.

Cagle also postulated that it may be difficult to find new heads of departments that would be willing “to answer to nine bosses.”

Sticking to pre-established City Council talking points, Councilman Ken Wilkerson said that, without the measure, there is “no recourse” for the City Council if a city manager refuses to fire a department head.

“I don’t see this as being the nuclear option that the city manager is describing for us,” he said, adding, “If it breaks down the council-manager form of government, then so be it. I think it’s important to have this in our toolbox and have a say in how our government is run.”

However, Wilkerson acknowledged the gravity of “using or even entertaining” such a measure, and motioned to modify the proposal to require a supermajority, or five out of seven votes, to terminate a city-employed department head. The motion passed 5 to 1, with Councilwoman Nina Cobb in opposition.

The City Council also engaged City Attorney Traci Briggs in a discussion regarding a proposal that would require the city to hold a public hearing whenever a fine or fee would be imposed.

After a lengthy debate regarding the legal definition of “imposed,” the City Council moved to modify the proposal to read such that a public hearing would be held whenever a new fine or fee would be established or if an existing fine or fee would be increased.

The motion passed 4-2 with Cobb and Councilman Rick Williams in opposition.

Additionally, the City Council held a lengthy debate on the city charter’s “investigation clause,” which grants council members the power to investigate into matters and bring them before the City Council.

During the roughly half-hour discussion, several motions were made by Councilwoman Mellisa Brown, with all of them being rejected.

“We are empowered to solve problems, not to go into departments looking for problems,” Williams said during the height of the debate.

Ultimately, no action was taken regarding the city’s “investigation clause.”

The last item for discussion presented by Councilman Michael Boyd, who pointed out that the city charter allows for both department heads and city managers to act as the head of multiple departments at once.

Neither the city manager nor the city deputy could point definitively toward a time in which the clause had been used, and Boyd suggested that the clause be stricken from the charter.

However, no action was taken, and no motion was passed.

In other business, the council voted to cancel Monday’s charter review workshop.

jdowling@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7552

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(3) comments

Rshanaa

It's a shame that the council wants more power at the potentially harmful cost to the city and its future.

I hope the citizens will vote against granting the council the power to influence the hiring and firing of department heads and others.

Alvin

For once I'm in agreement with Noneofyourbiz for it shows how determined this city council is to throw this city to to the wolves.

Copy: 'Regarding the potential adoption of a proposal that would empower the City Council to terminate heads of departments, Cagle cautioned the body that it would be in violation of the council-manager form of government the city currently employs, and that it could have negative ramifications for employment options.

“The council-manager form of government was created to keep staff out of politics,” he said, adding that the system took “the worst aspects” of the mayor-council and council-manager forms of government.

Cagle also postulated that it may be difficult to find new heads of departments that would be willing “to answer to nine bosses.” Emd of copy.

But they are deeply embedded in politics now when a city manager files an annual budget so loosely organized with a 'General budget' that resembles a 'pull a number out of the bag and see what you get' type of aspect'. The city manager is supposed to be just that, a manager who takes care of the city's business under the guidance of a city council. But we do not have that form of government in that once the annual budget is finalized and the city council has voted in accordance with this budget, then comes the wish list in the form of a police chief coming before the council and asking for the replacement of all handguns because of the accidental discharge of one, I repeat, 1 handgun and the city council acquiesces to the replacement of all weapons. Is that not 'keeping the council deeply mired in politics when the council acquiesce to the police chief'? Why did they just answer by stating, 'was that in your budget for this year'? And with all of the other 'should be budgetary requests that these department heads come up with', are they not getting this council mired deeply into 'putting the council into the political arena by voting on a specific item one at a time so that the city manager does not have to rely on 'stating within the city's budget because the council will be in charge of the daily on goings of managing the city and absolving the city manager of his duties, And this is an on going process of 'taking care of business the city of killeen way'.

And you can see this in every aspect of the city budget. You take the years past chief of police asking for a replacement armored car because 'the old one that was donated to the city by the Air Force because 'it was too heavy to cross I think it was 2 of the city's overpasses', annd the council approved. Did the council ask which ones and was there not an alternate route that could have been taken'? No, the all said 'well we'll just have to approve the I think it was at the time $750,000.00. And this list is endless. As to the water crisis we just endured, what has this council had to say about the management, or mismanagement of the operation of this water department? Nothing at all and that is an oversight of the highest order by not stepping in and saying to the city manager, 'what have you done about this total infraction of maintenance by the water department'? No, in this city it is just a 'blame the system by creating all of the diversions that they can think of'.

Yes, this city's mismanagement runs deep and that is why I am of the opinion that whenever it comes to large sums of money that are to be disbursed,the citizens should be called on to satisfy that obligation as a city council is drunk with their own sense of power and it should not be.

Noneofyourbiz

Moving from a city manager form of government will have a great impact on the citizens of Killeen. We are heading down the road to becoming Chicago. That is the full intention of this city council. They want a mayor Lightfoot type of mayor.

This move is going to do great damage and will put all power I to one person and citizens will have no voice. A mayor council ran city is usually for major cities that have oversight boards, elected dept heads and other elected officials.

This is not being done for the good of Killeen citizens, this is being done because of a power trip, power greed and control.

The city of Killeen will see higher crime, corruption, lost of city revenues, and a increase of federal and state aid to secure monies with in 5 to 8 years.

This move will destroy what little trust citizens have in the city and will lead the city being ran by non-profits, lobbyist, and one council members personal agenda.

If this passes, with in 10 years the city of Killeen will see a high exit of home owners and less affordable housing. The city will find itself feeding off of higher taxes on rental properties causing rent to increase.

This is a political moved by one political party in hopes of securing Killeen for a power grab in November 22 election and 24. This is a move to silence and force citizens into communism rule and dictator leadership by one political power.

This is what leads to totalitarianism and will bankrupt the city on down the line.

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