by ANDY SEVILLA
“The state of our city is strong, and it is strong because of you.”
That is the message Kyle Mayor Lucy Johnson delivered to a packed room of business leaders Tuesday in her third State of the City address at a Kyle Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
Johnson said Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 brought in $3.5 million in sales tax, up 12.2 percent from the previous year; and in the first quarter of FY2013 the city collected nearly $1 million in sales tax, up 15.2 percent from the same period last year.
Thirty-eight new businesses opened in Kyle last year, including 11 in the medical section and ten new restaurants, according to Johnson who went on to say that as of November 2012, the city’s unemployment rate is 3.8 percent.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has Texas’ unemployment rate at 6.1 percent for Dec. 2012 and the national unemployment rate at 7.8 percent for that same period, though the agency reported a slight increase in the U.S. unemployment number to 7.9 percent for Jan. 2013.
Johnson said Kyle’s taxable assessed value climbed $36.4 million, up 2.7 percent from the previous year.
“2012 proved to be a banner year for our community,” a confident Johnson said. “Last spring we opened the 20,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art, Kyle Public Library… Last spring we also saw the opening of Lake Kyle Park, our newest park and the first city-owned nature preserve… (and) the Kyle Police Department has also had a busy, growth-fueled year.”
Kyle police moved to their new 8,000 square-foot home on Front Street, next door to City Hall, in February. During FY2013 budget talks, council members approved six new positions, including a new crime victim services coordinator and a mental health officer, for the department.
By far, the city council’s “most difficult challenge over the last decade has been developing the infrastructure necessary to support our rapidly growing population and commercial projects,” Johnson said.
At their Feb. 19 meeting, council members gave final approval and called for a $36 million road bond election for May that, if approved by voters, would engineer and reconstruct Bunton Creek, Burleson, Goforth and Lehman Roads, and would extend Marketplace Avenue.
Johnson said 2012 saw the completion of Dacy Lane and the Kyle Crossing overpass, but two “much larger projects” were barely making headway — the FM 150 extension and the IH 35 frontage roads.
“These two massive projects are set to transform our highway frontage, and dramatically improve safety standards, and I’m happy to report, should be finished by May of this year,” she said.
And looking into Kyle’s 2013 future, Johnson said several new businesses are coming into the city, and although she said she could not reveal all the names, she did present the names of 14 new incoming businesses, which included Walmart, Ross, Wings to Go, Plum Creek Bread Basket, 7-Eleven and Kyle Orthodontics, among others.
“We are set to have an incredible year … please continue to be active and involved in our city government, and I promise, you can bet on watching Kyle exceed your expectations,” Johnson said.