Amid scrutiny from Kyle city leaders, six of the eight originally proposed changes to the city charter will be going to voters this November.
The decision, made via a 6-1 vote on second reading Aug. 14, followed a second round of debate on the amendments. Daphne Tenorio, Kyle City Council, Place 6, cast the lone dissenting vote.
Unlike in previous years, when a charter amendment committee would be formed by citizens who held public hearings to gather input, the proposed amendments were first presented to council Aug. 7, less than a week before council members were to vote on whether or not the carter amendments would appearance on the November ballot.
“There wasn’t much time for us to think about it, much less to invite residents to think about it,” said Tenorio. “That’s the best way to change the city charter, to invite citizens to not just vote on it, but be able to work on it and help come up with the language.”
However, Mayor Travis Mitchell defended the process, saying it is just another means of bringing amendments to the voters as outlined in the city charter. Mitchell said the charter allows council to review it every two years, with a review commission called for every five years.
“There are two methods, this is one method of doing it,” Mitchell said Aug. 7.
Tenorio disagreed, however, citing transparency concerns.
“Just because it can be done that way and it is legal doesn’t mean it’s the right way to do it,” Tenorio said. “I’m a strong proponent of transparency, and this is kind of out of left field.”
Several of the proposed amendments themselves also caused a stir on the dais, including a proposed change allowing the city manager to reside outside of city limits. Current charter language requires a city manager to live in Kyle.
While the item was initially approved 4-3 Aug. 7, the item failed 3-4 Aug. 14, preventing it from going to voters.
Mitchell said Aug. 7 the reason behind the amendment is to improve the city’s recruitment efforts in the future.
“If someone lived in San Antonio or Austin and had a senior in high school, they couldn’t wait 18 months to move. We wouldn’t want to lose the bid,” he said.
However, Tenorio argued that the city manager should be required to live within the city limits if their job is to improve Kyle.
“They should have to experience the high tax rates they’re proposing, drive the same bad roads and pay the same water rate,” Tenorio said Aug. 7.
Councilmembers also clashed when it came to a proposed amendment on city council stipends; however, that proposed change will remain on the ballot for voters.
The amendment, loosely modeled to San Marcos’, would allow the council to more easily adjust its compensation. According to the current policy, council members cannot benefit from their votes on their stipend, and sometimes have to wait several years to earn the same amount of money allocated to their peers on the dais if they found themselves on council when the stipends were increased.
“I believe the person in charge of the budget should not be the one writing their own check,” said Mayor Pro Tem Shane Arabie. “That’s my rub with this.”
Voters will decide on the amendments Nov. 6.
Correction: In an earlier version, we incorrectly reported a proposed amendment for city council stipends will not be on the ballot. That amendment was approved to also be on the Nov. 6 ballot. We apologize for the error.