By Moses Leos III and Katie Burrell
Kyle Mayor Travis Mitchell is opting to take a two-week hiatus days after city leaders approved its $84.9 million budget Sept. 4.
The move comes after roughly two weeks of heated discourse between city council members while finalizing the city’s fiscal year 2019 budget.
In an email to City Manager Scott Sellers, Mitchell said he plans to serve on a “limited capacity only” until Sept. 27. Mitchell plans to miss the Sept. 18 city council meeting, which he said was the first meeting he has missed while on the dais. Mayor Pro Tem Shane Arabie will lead the Sept. 18 meeting.
“I plan to use this time to focus on school work, spend time with my family, and engage with the people in the community that I love,” Mitchell said.
While Mitchell’s hiatus is unprecedented and no language in the city charter specifically addresses the nature of it, the document does allow for the Mayor Pro Tem to govern the city in his stead.
According to Section 4.02 of the Kyle Charter, in the absence of the mayor, the city’s Mayor Pro Tem shall perform the duties of the mayor and “in such capacity shall be vested with all powers conferred on such office.”
Mitchell added he saw it as a good opportunity for him to “recalibrate” himself after continuously serving Kyle for the past two-plus years.
During the Sept. 4 meeting led by Mitchell, Kyle’s city council moved around $50,000 during the second and final reading of the budget. The money was a line item for Mitchell’s proposal to hire a federal lobbyist on the city’s behalf, which was removed from the budget.
Instead, city leaders were in favor of using some of that money for several smaller projects totaling $37,400. That includes $10,000 toward the Kyle Area Youth Advisory Council’s (KAYAC) plan to build inclusive playground equipment at area parks. The city also allocated $15,000 to the Kyle Police Department, along with monies to the Kyle Library.
Approximately $12,000 of the $50,000 will remain as unallocated funds city leaders can use throughout the year for other projects.
Mitchell and Council Member Damon Fogley were the only members to support the lobbyist line item during the second reading. Mitchell said he did not want to pursue his plan for a lobbyist without full support of the council, but was concerned with voting on new ideas spontaneously.
“I’m being asked to make a decision on something I’m hearing for the first time,” Mitchell said Sept. 4. “We should have been talking about these things ahead of time.”
Arabie said he brought up his proposals last minute because he needed time to research each and every project.
According to an email from Mitchell, all correspondence to him will be instructed to contact Arabie or the city manager.
Arabie said he found out he would be stepping into his role midday Sept. 7, but does not foresee taking on additional responsibilities aside from leading the Sept. 18 meeting.