Possible Kyle charter change causes unease

Tempers flared Tuesday as Kyle residents and city leaders sparred over a slew of proposed charter amendments slated to go on the November ballot.

While the Kyle City Council ultimately approved taking the amendments to voters by a 6-1 vote – Place 6 Council Member Daphne Tenorio voted against the measure – many believed the proposed changes might not have been properly vetted.

Charter amendments proposed for the November election run the gamut, with potential changes including tweaking the process for city council to give themselves raises and whether or not a city manager can live outside city limits.

But the lack of a charter amendment committee, which is made up of citizens, rubbed Kyle residents the wrong way, voters and council members alike.

Unlike previous years, a citizens’ committee was not formed to review and offer feedback on charter amendments, and no hearings were held. Former councilperson Diane Hervol addressed the issue during citizen comment.

“I’m disappointed a citizen review committee wasn’t established to look at those (amendments),” Hervol said. “There’s probably a more transparent way to do that.”

However, Mayor Travis Mitchell said it is well within the council’s rights to look at the charter to try to find inconsistencies to bring to voters to decide on.

“The charter spells out two processes: every two years, the city council shall review the charter. The city council, also every five years, may create a charter review commission. There’re two methods, this is one method of doing it,” Mitchell said.

Council members weren’t happy with the process either, saying that they first saw the proposed charter amendments Thursday. They also expressed concern that they had less time than they would like to meet the deadline for having the charter amendments included in the November 6 election.

“I feel like I’m being forced into decisions,” said Mayor Pro Tem Shane Arabie. “The other things that feel like they’re starting to pop up are starting to make me disheartened with the process.”

Daphne Tenorio, Kyle council member, Place 6, did not like that the city did not form a charter amendment review committee, which had been done in previous years.

“I don’t like the idea of putting forth charter amendments without the (input from citizens),” she said. “I will be voting no to all of them.”

Tenorio was the only councilperson to vote against the special election to adopt the charter amendments. The proposed charter amendments will come back to council during its Aug. 14 meeting, at which point they will hold a second reading to either pass the language or not.

“This is a vote to put (amendments) on the ballot for people to decide for themselves what amendments they would like to make. It’s their document,” Mitchell said.

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