LOCAL GOVERNMENT

After a heavy legislative session and three 30-day special sessions, lobbyist Stan Schlueter of the Schlueter Group had mixed news for the Killeen City Council.

During the lengthy presentation Tuesday, Schlueter — who is under a five-year contract for $100,000 annually — provided a general overview of this year’s action by the state Legislature, which he said was dominated by redistricting, election and “social” bills, such as the so-called heartbeat bill and the sports identity bill.

Going into the session, Schlueter said that his group tracked roughly 2,000 bills which he said had the potential to affect Killeen.

As it was his first time speaking before this City Council, Schlueter also spent a significant portion of his time explaining his role and why his services are worth the $100,000 that Killeen pays annually.

According to the lobbyist, the Schlueter Group faced unique challenges this session.

“Democrats felt Republicans were trying to stack the deck,” Schlueter said of the election bill.

In addition, redistricting hung heavy over every conversation.

Nevertheless, Schlueter said that his group was not responsible for lobbying efforts regarding local redistricting concerns.

“I know that there are a lot of people in Killeen that are upset about that,” Schlueter said, but added, “If you go in talking to a member about redistricting, anything else you have to say is dead.”

Instead, he directed the City Council toward state House Rep. Brad Buckley.

Another issue Schlueter brought to light was the current state of the state’s 100% Disabled Veterans Tax Exemption, which he claimed has created an ever-widening hole in the state’s pocketbooks.

According to Schlueter, who said that he helped to pass the original tax exemption, the law has harmed some cities with large veterans populations. Schlueter said the exemption is in need of a new funding mechanism.

"On balance, the City Council commended the lobbyist for his efforts in supporting Killeen's future. Schlueter was, however, pressed by council members Ken Wilkerson and Mellisa Brown to explain how he could remain impartial despite serving multiple cities at once."

In his initial response, Schlueter said that he served Killeen and Baytown, but a similar question from Brown revealed that he also served several corporations along with several coastal municipalities.

The problem, Brown pointed out, is that multiple cities could have conflicting interests. However, Schlueter explained that, in such cases, he sits down with the pertinent parties to resolve the issue in “peer mediation.”

Wilkerson also asked for a higher frequency of communication between the Schlueter Group and the City Council. While the councilman recognized that Schlueter sends regular emails, he also pointed out that his relatively recent election meant that he had no input in this session’s legislative priorities, despite sitting as a council member for most of 2021.

Schlueter agreed to more consistent in-person communication, but also said that the onus of educating the public lies with the council.

Expenditures

A vast majority of purchasing requests before the council Tuesday were supply-related: $1.1 million will go toward replacing vehicles across eight city departments, and approximately $458,444 will be used to purchase equipment for the Killeen Fire Department, to include radio and safety equipment. Additionally, city staff requested $90,000 to fund library services.

The largest expense request by far was the design of the upcoming Willow Springs and Watercrest Road Project, which staff has projected to cost $1.9 million.

The project, the design of which is expected to take approximately 12 months, will pay for the full engineering design of the roadway.

“I am pleased to see this come before council. Like Bunny Trail, residents have been very vocal about this project,” Councilman Michael Boyd said.

The project, according to Boyd, will take approximately 20 months to complete.

The meeting concluded at approximately 9:15 p.m. after a rezoning request and a discussion regarding the upcoming vacancy for a new municipal judge.

jdowling@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7552

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(1) comment

Alvin

Copy: 'Going into the session, Schlueter said that his group tracked roughly 2,000 bills which he said had the potential to affect Killeen.' End of copy.

You know, this doesn't tell the city council or the citizen much of what is going on in Austin to say that 'going into the session, his group tracked roughly 2,000 bills'. What were the bills, how did they effect Killeen, and to what extent did they have any effect on or in Killeen. You never hear anything about this group, and especially the 5 year contract for $100,000.00/annum. I think that this is another case where this group should be producing more valuable information regarding Killeen in as much as we the people are paying the freight for his existence.

Copy: 'During the lengthy presentation Tuesday, Schlueter — who is under a five-year contract for $100,000 annually — provided a general overview of this year’s action by the state Legislature, which he said was dominated by redistricting, election and “social” bills, such as the so-called heartbeat bill and the sports identity bill.' End of copy.

To me, His efforts are not worth the $100,000.00 we pay out each year. The question in my mind is 'why is our Texas legislature concerned about this too, as they have important issues that they should be concerned about like the price of gasoline instead of worrying about the sports identity bill. If someone wants to be concerned about 'the sports identity bill, they should be concerned about the playing of the National Anthem, people standing instead of kneeling, crossing of their heart instead of raising their fist clenched. These are the things that I'm concerned with not 'the sports identity bill' which by the way I've never heard of as being presented to the State legislature.

So what has he done to provide information to this city any valuable insight as to what are the effects to Killeen for as I see it, his group has done nothing.

Under the 'Expenditures listing, this is what I have been talking about for years, the going before the city council for expenditures that should have been placed before this council as budgeted expenses and not expenses for such items as vehicles, fire department equipment, and of all things, $90,000.00 to fund library services. Now I know ol Johnny do rite is going to jump up and holler about 'the kids education', but again I say, when it comes to this cities operational needs, I say, 'put all of the cards on the table, then we can exercise restraint and select the priorities as to what we are going to put our money on. This way only serves to the public what the council, and again it's selective in nature as to what is served up.

Now this is to say that 'what is in the budget now. Is the $1.1 million that is going towards vehicle replacement already a budgeted item? If it is then again I say why are we voting on it again? It should be just be an announced expenditure of budgeted money's to bring this council up to speed on what is being spent as to the budget. And speaking of the budget, I have yet to see a copy of the budget in the hands of a council person or the mayor. So how do you know what is a budgeted item and what is not? Hmmm.

Copy: 'The project, the design of which is expected to take approximately 12 months, will pay for the full engineering design of the roadway.

“I am pleased to see this come before council. Like Bunny Trail, residents have been very vocal about this project,” Councilman Michael Boyd said.

The project, according to Boyd, will take approximately 20 months to complete.' End of copy.

There is a variance of 8 months between the projected 12 to complete the full engineering and the 20 months to complete this project. Is there not going to be engineering support fro the last 8 months of this contract? If so then it should be mentioned.

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