LOCAL GOVERNMENT

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.”

Other business

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.

Contact Rachael Riley at rriley@kdhnews.com or 254-501-7553

(3) comments

Hacksaw

Maybe the police department can sell off some of those Armored Troop Carriers they're running around town with and use the proceeds from that to buy a squad car?
It doesn't matter what kind of vehicle the SWAT team arrives in. They've still got to get out of it to put handcuffs on the bad guys. Why the heck do they need an armored HumVee with a machine gun turret?

Bear3

My personal opinion and probably many others with much intelligence or common ability to 'think'; Baldwin has whined this City into the city without limits of funding by making these 'exaggerated comments!'
The bottom line, they have plenty of fleet and his department needs to be treated like the rest and not spend any funds until like the article stipulated in the 'editorial Fix the Funds' but I would contend to add a few more to Termination list. Hold Baldwin accountable for taking this city into the deficit and going above and beyond the 'Good 'Ole Boy regime of not only covering for Cosper and Morrison but applying 'his own Questionable 'Code of Ethics' and law!!!

Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.
Boy, it seems like a broken record, this KPD request for $540,632 to purchase 9 cruisers at a cost of $60,070.22 each and councilman Rivera spouting 'The Sky's Falling, The Sky's Falling'.
'You can't get blood out of a turnip' as the old saying goes and to say, copy: 'Councilman Juan Rivera said he understands the city needs to save money, but won’t put someone’s life “in jeopardy.” End of copy.
It seems we, the council, keep on reverting to that at every council meeting.
I agree with Council woman Fleming, 'the cost of $540,632 is about half a million dollars better especially when this city is in a crisis mode of operation'.
And the statement made by McLennen as to, copy: 'staff intentionally delayed bringing the matter to the council in May because of the city’s finances.' End of copy.
Or in other words, 'you intentionally delayed this disclosure in the hopes that this council would become discouraged and agree to anything'. That's. Mr. McLennen is subterfuge, not disclosing you're real intentions were. Copy: '“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.' End of copy.
What is the meaning of ' these vehicles are built into that finish'? Is that verbiage intended to mean 'if these vehicles are NOT included, then the KPD services will be diminished by a certain degree? Clarify please.
This city, by not taking care of business has gotten itself into 'dire straits', and that's something that can't be undone by any delaying tactics, by borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. Peter is now broke and Paul is still clamoring for more money.
I ask again, 'who is responsible for the development of the city council agenda because it's strange that the KPD expenditures keep coming up while everything else takes second place.
I agree with council woman Flemming, 'Wait until the budget is finished and then see if there's enough money to support this request'.
I say again,
why didn't your purchasing department take the size of the individual, bulk, into account before you purchased 'the smaller vehicles'? What about utilizing these vehicles in lieu of the 9 you are asking for?
In other business, 'shelve the requirement for a digital time clock, this is an expense that is not needed at this time. That $176,000 dollars could be spent elsewhere.
One of the 3% who voted.

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