Killeen City Council members will meet at 4 p.m. Tuesday to consider two separate requests — that when combined would amount to 39 new police vehicles in the city at a cost of $1.18 million.
The meeting is at Killeen City Hall, 101 N. College St.
The first item for consideration is replacing nine fully-equipped police units at a cost of $540,632.
The second is to purchase a total of 42 vehicles for the city though the 2016 fleet replacement program, which proposes another 30 police vehicle purchase at a cost of $643,402.
Both anticipated purchases are outlined in a July 7, 2015, cover letter to the council in the fiscal year 2016 proposed budget from former city manager Glenn Morrison.
The budget with the proposed expenses was adopted by the council Sept. 8.
Councilmen Jonathan Okray and Brockley Moore voted against that budget, along with Councilwoman Shirley Fleming.
Councilmen Gregory Johnson and Richard “Dick” Young were not on the council at that time.
On Jan. 26, the council unanimously approved creating a fleet funding program that amended the 2016 budget to add a new “601” account that would cover the cost for needed vehicles in the city.
According to the council memo in January the city spends an average of $3.4 million annually for fleet purchases.
The ordinance that created the fleet funding program stated $1 million would be transferred from 2014 certificates of obligation, $3 million from the solid waste fund, and $3.5 million was transferred from the water and sewer fund as “seed money” to create the account.
July 25 workshop
During the council’s July 25 workshop, Stu McLennan, director of support services, and Finance Director Jonathan Locke provided the council with an update of the fleet funding program.
McLennan told the council a list was developed to prioritize which of the city’s vehicles needed replacement due to age and maintenance costs during the next few fiscal years.
“The (fleet replacement program) should be implemented because direct maintenance costs increase dramatically as vehicles exceed their usable life,” McLennan said.
He said police patrol vehicles were expected to last about 8 to 12 years or with 110,000 miles.
The following night, on July 26 in review of the police department budget, Johnson said he was OK with the program until a June 30 workshop when the council first learned expenses have exceeded revenues in the past few fiscal years, and the general fund balance, or city savings, is depleting.
During the council’s Aug. 2 workshop meeting, Frank Tydlacka, director of fleet services, said the nine police vehicles needing to be replaced are an average of 14 years old with as much as 142,000 miles. The maintenance cost is $8,000, Tydlacka said.
Funds are in the fleet funding program’s police department account, which has a current balance of $1.18 million, Tydlacka said.
McLennan said staff intentionally delayed bringing the matter to the council in May because of the city’s finances.
“Our hope was at the time that we would lay out for you that we are going to finish '16 strong, and these vehicles are built into that finish,” McLennan said.
Mayor Jose Segarra said he thinks the purpose of the fleet replacement program is to set aside money instead of constantly using the general fund every time a new vehicle is needed.
Fleming said she doesn’t doubt the need for the vehicles, but asked if the purchase could wait because of the $540,000 cost compared to $8,000 in repairs.
“We are in a crisis right now,” Fleming said. “You understand. We all understand — we need to save the city money right now and look at this later on down the road.”
Police Chief Dennis Baldwin said some of the police department’s older fleet could be used, but the life expectancy and “road-worthiness” will be shortened.
“These are hard-driven vehicles,” Baldwin said of the nine needed and explaining why it’s not like a regular vehicle that could get up to 200,000 miles out of it. “These are vehicles used in pursuits.”
Fleming later questioned why the vehicles weren’t purchased years ago when staff told her some of the city’s vehicles date back to 1994.
“Whoever was running the city — how come they didn’t take care of all of this? It’s making us look pretty bad as a council,” she said.
Baldwin said requests were made in the past.
Johnson said he supports the city’s first responders and ensuring they have the proper equipment, but is uncomfortable with the expense until the budget it trimmed.
Councilman Juan Rivera said he understands the city needs to save money, but won’t put someone’s life “in jeopardy.”
Johnson said he has concerns like Rivera, but can’t support the expense.
Rivera said he thinks the statements are an “excuse” that is like a “recording.”
“Get in those books and start looking for money so we can replace what we need to replace,” Rivera said.
Johnson said he’ll continue to make the statements.
“The citizens and taxpayers need to know and understand there are council members on here to protect their interests and ensure their hard-earned tax dollars are spent and managed efficiently and effectively,” Johnson said. “I’ve been on the council for less than 3-months, and I’m fixing your mess.”
Also during this week’s meeting, council members will consider a $176,000 purchase for a digital time clock system and a resolution of the city’s intent to issue certificates of obligation.
A workshop will follow the regular meeting for council members to discuss the city’s preliminary tax rate and proposed budgets for the following city departments: finance, human resources, support services, information technology, public information, community development, planning and development and community services.
For the entire agenda of Tuesday’s regular meeting, go to https://killeen.legistar.com/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=500518&GUID=DB2F446F-BB78-4B37-84AD-9E75F85BE9C5&Options=info&Search=.
For a copy of the fleet funding ordinance, go to https://killeen.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2554889&GUID=E4293B28-48FC-4036-8D33-D78E44F6235A&Options=&Search=&FullText=1.