City Auditor Matthew Grady performed an independent examination of the status and effectiveness of the relationship between the City of Killeen and Killeen Volunteers, Inc. He has published his findings for public review.
Killeen Volunteers, Inc. (KVI) was established April 27, 1993 by City Council resolution. The stated mission for the 501(c)(3) non-profit was to “mobilize people and resources to address community needs and enhance quality of life through volunteerism.” Grady’s findings show that, over time, KVI has drifted from its core mission of volunteerism and that the lines between City and non-profit responsibilities have blurred. “The expansion of KVI’s workload into non-mission areas comes at the expense of chronically underserved areas that could benefit from KVI’s volunteer resources,” he reports.
Grady said the impetus for the audit was changes in the leadership of Volunteer Services and KVI, as well as concerns about KVI that had been expressed to the City Manager.
A thorough review of official creation and expansion actions, financial practices and data and interviews with stakeholders provided a clear picture of the KVI operation and its interplay with City of Killeen staff. It found that the City’s Volunteer Services Division was managing much of the day-to-day operation for the non-profit including its financial responsibilities. While the City benefits significantly from KVI’s programs, there was no defined partnership delineating roles.
KVI has a board of directors appointed by City Council. It oversees the subcommittees of Keep Killeen Beautiful, Youth Advisory Commission, Volunteer Killeen, Celebrate Killeen and Rodeo Killeen. KVI is funded primarily through an annual City contribution, most recently $100,000, and an Arts Commission grant. These contributions account for 85 percent of the group’s total funding.
The City of Killeen has a Volunteer Services Division under the Recreation Services Department that employs full-time staff to serve as liaisons to KVI and its committees and to develop volunteerism and volunteer partnerships in the community.
The report found that City management recognized the need to create separation between the two entities, both financially and operationally, and began taking action to do so during the current fiscal year. The move created strains between the entities and resulted in significant turnover in volunteer positions.
Grady says the path forward must include an interagency agreement, currently being drafted, that defines the terms of the partnership between the City and KVI that clearly defines expectations for all parties. It should also include financial policies and practices.
The report points to numerous positive outcomes that have resulted from KVI’s work. Keep Killeen Beautiful has engaged thousands of volunteers to remove countless tons of litter from the city’s streets, parks and waterways. It has also planted hundreds of trees and applied for and received state grants for highway welcome signs. The Celebrate Killeen Committee has hosted hundreds of events and programs since its inception including its eponymous festival, the annual Killeen Christmas Parade and Holiday Under the Stars. The Youth Advisory Commission has impacted thousands of young people through community engagement, leadership development and volunteerism.
More recently, Rodeo Killeen was added to the KVI family. It brings an annual PRCA rodeo to town for three days carrying on the 72-year local tradition. The rodeo has been fully funded through sponsorships and event revenue. The Fort Hood November 5 Memorial Fund was placed under KVI in 2011 to receive donations for the building of a memorial, which was dedicated in 2016. Finally, the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) was placed under the KVI umbrella in 2016 but lack of resources and expertise limited its success.
Grady says that redefining committee missions will be a key part of their future success and recommends conducting a program review with the KVI Board of Directors to determine which current programs should remain under their purview and which should be reassigned.
“I am hopeful that FY 2020 will begin a new chapter in KVI’s existence,” Grady said. “One in which it will have a greater hand in charting its own course in coordination with the City.”
The entire Killeen Volunteers, Inc. audit is available at killeentexas.gov/auditor.