After weeks of marathon meetings that included budget discussions and the city charter, Killeen City Council accomplished its most difficult feat to date: completing a meeting in just under 90 minutes.

At the heart of the nine-item agenda were proposed changes to the Animal Advisory Council and the standards governing the city.

A sticking point for several weeks, the city governing standards are a set of bylaws that describe acceptable behavior for council members inside and outside of city hall.

The proposed changes included new rules for deliberation such as five-minute rounds of discussion for each item, as well as a stipulation requiring council meetings to end before 11 p.m. Councilor Mellisa Brown in opposition.

Several residents spoke out on Tuesday against a proposal to reduce citizen participation for the Animal Advisory Council from seven to three members and a change in the term limits of all city committees.

“It doesn’t make sense for the council to ask for diverse citizen participation and then reduce the number of people on a committee,” said resident Anca Neagu. “It is not fair for you board members to be placed in a position to make decisions based on incorrect information. “

Another resident asked city council if the change was the result of retaliation or intimidation.

City attorney Tracy Briggs explained that the only committee to have a language specifying the need for board members to reside within city limits.

Brown said there are many ways to show a vested interest in the city’s activities.

“Whether you live in the city or not, you may have a vested interest in the [animal advisory] board of directors, ”said Brown. “You can spend your money here or rent a property, and that can give you a vested interest.”

City Councilor Ken Wilkerson said City Council should be cautious with the idea of ​​“vested interest” and that the city should at the very least stipulate that there must be a relationship between the citizen member and the city. city.

“While I’m not opposed to bringing in outside residents who have an interest, I think we need to be careful of people who say they have a vested interest in Killeen,” Wilkerson said, adding that “we must be aware of the rules that we have established.

Williams was less forgiving, saying “the limits are set for reasons.”

“I get a lot more emails from people who live in Travis County and Tacoma, Wash. Than the very citizens who elected me to represent and serve them,” Williams said, adding that it is important to set limits on what constitutes residency.

Williams also addressed concerns that city council and advisory councils may have an “adversarial relationship.”

“You’re right, this shouldn’t be an adversarial relationship,” he said. “And it starts with the respect that begins with citizens, and with staff. No one should walk into this room feeling like they are not being heard.

Brown supplemented the discussion on advisory boards by removing verbiage related to term limits, saying “there shouldn’t be a difference between [The City Council] and members of the board of directors. Brown did not get a second for his motion.

Mayor Pro Tem Debbie Nash-King was successful in approving the city’s governance standards, with modifications, excluding language regarding term limits for citizens’ committees.

Wilkerson then succeeded in accepting the nomination of himself and City Councilor Jessica Gonzalez to the Animal Advisory Board, saying that as a liaison between City Council and the Board of Directors he would be able to to make informed decisions.

Gonzalez spoke the same way, saying she “gets calls daily” to discuss issues with her residents and that she is also eager to work as a liaison.

During the ensuing discussion regarding the appointment of residents to various committees through a city ordinance, Wilkerson said it would be prudent to postpone discussion of the composition of the Animal Advisory Board until December, which would prevent a reduction in the number of members from seven to three citizen members of the Animal Advisory Council.

City council passed the motion unanimously, marking a victory for the roughly five residents who have spoken out against the measure at every council meeting in the past three weeks.

Also on the agenda was a public hearing on a budget amendment.

According to Executive Director of Finance Jon Locke, the amendment includes fund balance transfers in excess of 22% of their original budget, dedicated funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, the creation of a health insurance fund and a operational funding.

Locke explained that the cash transfers included $ 159,000 from the solid waste fund for a higher than expected severance package and $ 1.8 million to the water and sewer fund due to the recent activation of ” a 2020 surety agreement.

Additionally, Locke said the city is currently planning a windfall of $ 5.5 million which will be certified during the March audit.

In response to a question from Brown, Locke explained that the funds would not contribute to the 2022 budget, but would be usable during certification.

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