LOCAL GOVERNMENT

After a powerful discussion in which the Killeen City Council debated the delicate balance between representation and compensation, council members drastically reduced a previously proposed increase to council members’ monthly compensation by roughly $650.

In a 6-1 vote after much discussion Tuesday, members settled on a proposed increase from $100 per month to $250 for council members, and from $150 monthly to $350 for the mayor. Mayor Pro Tem Debbie Nash-King voted in opposition.

The proposed raise still must be approved by voters in a May 7 charter election.

Councilman Michael Boyd sparked the debate after attempting to trim a previous proposal to increase council member compensation from $100 a month to $1,000 and for the mayor from $200 to $1,500, in half. Under his proposal, council members would have received $500 and the mayor would have received $750.

After Boyd’s motion failed to receive a second, however, Councilman Ken Wilkerson made an alternate motion to strike the current amendment proposal entirely, leaving council member compensation at $100 and the mayor’s compensation at $200.

Speaking in support of the motion, Mayor Pro Tem Debbie Nash-King said that her decision was based on public input, while advocating for a mentorship program to help residents understand the effort each council member puts into their work.

“Regardless of whether we agree with it or not, we have heard from the citizens,” Nash-King said. “This isn’t about my worth — I know my worth, and it’s more than a title or my job. But if our boss says that we do not need a pay raise at this time, then we ought to plan some type of program so citizens can understand what it is we do.”

Partially replying to council members Wilkerson and Nash-King’s point that members of the public often do not see council achievements, Councilwoman Nina Cobb used her speaking time to list several dozen items passed by the City Council, including the allocation of ARPA funds, the establishment of downtown events, and the pursual of the Comprehensive Plan.

Wilkerson, modifying his proposal, amended his motion, and asked the City Council to consider abolishing council compensation entirely.

“No one up here is expecting a salary that will pay your bills,” Councilman Rick Williams said. “It’s disheartening that we had to have such a brutal debate.”

Williams pointed out that he gives his compensation to local non-profit organizations and pays rental when hosting town halls. Despite this, he also said that it may be necessary for future council members to receive some payment to make the position more accessible.

“I don’t want this to come off as a reckless approach. I do think we should consider perhaps meeting in the middle,” Boyd said. “I just don’t think that’s the most responsible way to do this.”

By a 6-1 vote, the City Council voted down a revised motion to scrap council pay entirely, with Nash-King remaining the prospect’s sole proponent.

As a final effort to reach a consensus, Boyd offered another option that is closer to what Former Councilwoman Shirley Fleming proposed when the subject of council pay was originally introduced: $250 monthly for council members and $350 for the mayor.

The motion passed nearly unanimously, with Nash-King in opposition.

Ballot Changes

Wilkerson also asked the City Council to revisit its ability to appoint city employees, arguing that it makes little sense to have a council appear to hire staff that it has no control over and may receive undue flak for.

“Why do we need to approve anyone that we don’t have purview to remove?” Wilkerson said. “The approvals are pretty much formalities anyway. I don’t want it to appear to the public as if we’re hiring someone. That way it sits with the person solely responsible: the city manager.”

Cobb disagreed.

“I understand what Councilman Wilkerson stated, but the buck stops with us. It doesn’t matter who we say has the responsibility; when your constituents hear something that happens, they’re still going to come to us and ask ‘what happened,” Cobb said. “The bottom line is that we are responsible.”

No action was taken.

However, the City Council moved to strike five non-council or city staff “housekeeping” items from the May 7 election ballot in a vote of 4-3, with Boyd, Nash-King, and Councilwoman Jessica Gonzalez in opposition. Williams, Cobb, Brown, and Wilkerson voted in favor of the motion.

Historic Overlay District

The City Council will revisit the topic of allowing bars and taverns within the Historic Overlay District.

Last week, the City Council heard a proposal to allow bars and taverns “by-right” within the district while striking an existing ordinance that disallowed the establishment of bars and taverns within 300 feet of churches and schools.

City staff presented an adjustment to the proposal that would keep the ordinance in place with the added clause enabling bars and taverns to receive proper zoning on a case-by-case basis.

As discussion turned toward the possibility of removing restrictions, however, Boyd spoke up.

“I am concerned that bars and taverns are what we hope will become the lynchpin for downtown’s development,” Boyd said. “We are better than this.”

Boyd later clarified that his statement comes from a desire to treat the matter with care.

Bars and taverns are decided based on alcohol sale, City Manager Danielle Singh clarified.

Cobb described the council’s inaction as “fearful,” while Gonzalez and WIlkerson pointed out that the city currently will maintain control over where bars and taverns are placed.

“This is not just haphazard,” Wilkerson said. “We still maintain the control at the council level.”

The measure passed 5-2, with Boyd and Williams in opposition. Cobb, Brown, Nash-King, Gonzalez and Wilkerson voted in favor of the motion.

Delayed action

The City Council delayed action on two items previously listed on the consent agenda.

The first item, which would have authorized the lease of seven new mowers from Deere for $376,000, was rejected after a motion by Williams. Discussion on the item last week was lengthy, with council members drawing particular attention to the leasing, rather than purchasing of the mowers.

This week, the council members focused on an inability to secure lower funding and the potential to whittle down cost.

The City Council moved to reject the bid in a vote of 6 to 1, with an added requirement that future leasing bids return with a monthly cost projection.

Additionally, the City Council stayed a vote on the appointment of members to the Killeen Crime Solutions Committee.

“We received several applications later on in the process, and we are wanting to be clear since we did make nominations in the last meeting,” Williams said.

In light of the new applications, Councilwoman Mellisa Brown moved, with unanimous support, to table the issue until a future date.

CONSENT AGENDA

The City Council also passed a lengthy consent agenda:

Approval of the minutes of City Council meetings on Dec. 7 and 14.

Rejection of all bids for a Water and Sewer supply purchase

The awarding of $500,000 to purchase street construction materials

Authorization of a bid of $300,000 for pavement marking services

Authorization of $80,300 for new doors at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center

Authorization of $99,604 for the replacement of bleachers at the Killeen Rodeo Arena

Authorization of $155,467 to upgrade the elevators at City Hall and the Municipal Annex.

Authorization of $85,956 for roof replacements at the Utility Collections building.

The approval of new Executive Director of Development Services, Edwin Revell.

Approval of City Manager Kent Cagle’s evaluation as “above average” and a 3.5% cost of living adjustment increase to his base pay.

Passage of an ordinance calling the May 7, 2022, general election to elect a mayor and three council members at-large.

jdowling@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7552

(1) comment

Alvin

Copy: 'Killeen council votes to slash proposed council, mayor pay increase'.

Copy: 'After a powerful discussion in which the Killeen City Council debated the delicate balance between representation and compensation, council members drastically reduced a previously proposed increase to council members’ monthly compensation by roughly $650.

In a 6-1 vote after much discussion Tuesday, members settled on a proposed increase from $100 per month to $250 for council members, and from $150 monthly to $350 for the mayor. Mayor Pro Tem Debbie Nash-King voted in opposition.

CopyThe proposed raise still must be approved by voters in a May 7 charter election.' End of copy.

If the citizen of this city has been paying attention, it has to be noted that the recent fiasco of the 10 day boil water and the subsequent 30 day of high residual Chlorine injection with the 39 million gallon dumping of treated water onto the ground, there has been no mention by the mayor, or by the city manager, or by the city council of whose responsibility is the culprit that bears the responsibility for this monumental error at the lapse of this the Killeen water department. And who did they just award the city manager, whose job it was to hire good, responsible people that supervises the development of those prestigious people, but of course the city manager, the head of the Killeen city water department whose sole commitment is to supervise and enforce the people of good character that work in the Killeen city water department.

So how is it that the city council, although they did in fact cut the salary increase from $1,000.00 and $1,500.00 per month, I am of the opinion that no member of the city government deserves any raise at all for what have they done for the citizen except drive the citizen deeper into debt without as much as a 'I'm really sorry that we did not do anything for the citizen'. So for the of thinking, they do not deserve any pay adjustment except vote for a pay cut because 'They deserve it'.

As to the down town arena, I say, 'Leave the down town alone and concentrate on developing a plan that will be a cornerstone for this area and don't let the P&Z touch it for they will just mess it up.

As for that, who is supposed to be running this city, the retail housing market, the P&Z or the city council? It seems that the retail housing market is doing much of the ground work in the area of Standards by which all of the housing is concerned. I may be wrong, but...

And onto the voting on consent agenda in which all but one of the bids, which totaled $1,306,794.00. These bids, of which they were previously in the budget, should not have necessitated a bid as they were 'IN THE BUDGET', and if they were not in the budget, then they should have been. We keep on 'spinning our wheels when it is not necessary'.

So there you have it, another night where the city council congradulates themselves 'for a job well done'.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.