Kyle mayor goes on hiatus

Kyle Mayor Travis Mitchell is opting to take a two-week hiatus days after city leaders approved its $89.4 million budget Sept. 4. 

In an Sept. 7 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.

On Sept. 4, Kyle city leaders finalized its budget on second reading, but not before spending an hour debating how to move $50,000 meant for the hire of a federal lobbyist. 

The Kyle City Council opted to strike the lobbyist idea from the budget. According to City Manager Scott Sellers, the lobbyist idea is likely finished, at least until the next budget cycle since the funds were moved. 

“The council removed the $50k during the last meeting so there is no more proposal,” Sellers said in a statement.

But discussion raged on how to reallocate the money, and whether it was appropriate to make those changes upon second reading.

Arabie took the opportunity to propose and pass $37,400 in budget proposals. The new items include $10,000 replace, update playground equipment for the Kyle Area Youth Advisory Council’s (KAYAC) plan, which will make the equipment more available to disabled children. 

“I do not hold items hostage,” Arabie said during the meeting. “These items were going to come forward no matter what…I’m not trying to destroy anybody’s anything. I’m trying to encumber funds so that we walk away with a holistic budget.”

$15,000 was approved toward Kyle Police to upgrade the record department and the evidence locker. Council Member Alex Villalobos proposed an additional $5,000 toward Kyle Police for the Citizens on Patrol program, but item was rejected by council.

The Kyle Library received $5,000 for a summer reading program. Without adding additional funds, $1,500 was set aside for a spay and neuter program from the already-existing total $153,862 in the Police Department’s budget

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 when voting Tuesday night. “We should have been talking about these things ahead of time.”

The leftover $12,000 will remain in the budget as unallocated funds that, according to Arabie, will be used throughout the 2018-19 fiscal year for projects proposed by council members.

Mitchell was unable to give further comment at the time of print as he was on hiatus. Fogley declined comment due to availability at the time of print.

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