Kyle City Council seeks pay boost

A $1,000-plus monthly stipend and the option of health insurance is the recommended pay increase for Kyle city leaders from a city-council appointed committee

But one committee member questioned the appropriateness of the increase and whether or not Kyle is ready to handle the burden.    

Discussions on the topic have been the subject of a five-person Compensation Committee, which is charged to craft a city council pay raise for Kyle city leaders. On Monday, the committee voted 4-1 to recommend a $1,300 monthly stipend for the mayor, a $1,000 per month stipend for each council member and the option for all city leaders to obtain health insurance through the city. Committee member Michael Tobias cast the lone dissenting vote. The committee will finalize its recommendation April 12.

The committee, which began meetings April 1, was created as a result of an amendment to the Kyle City Council Charter approved by voters in November 2018.

Kyle’s new charter provision allows the Kyle City Council to appoint a committee that deliberates and recommends city council pay increases every three years. That recommendation then goes to the Kyle City Council, which approves or denies its own pay raise. Previously, Kyle city leaders could not vote for a pay raise for sitting council members and any increases were subject to a Charter Review Committee, which is organized every five years.

On April 8, the committee deliberated about how much to increase city council pay, which the committee members agreed was needed. Kyle City Council members are currently paid $100 per month while the mayor is paid $200 per month. Committee member Pete Oppel said April 2 he worried not paying city leaders enough could prevent people from running for office.

The committee also researched how much neighboring cities compensate their city leaders.

Cities that were researched included San Marcos, Seguin, Hutto, Georgetown and Round Rock; the committee also looked at larger towns, such as Frisco and Allen in the Dallas area.

Committee chair Trista Fugate supported increasing city council pay as it would cover not only any possible expenses while in office, but also account for the time city leaders have taken away from their normal jobs.

However, committee members did not have a firm knowledge of how many hours city leaders work when dealing with city business. Estimates provided by current and former city leaders ranged from 15 hours to more than 50 hours per week. Committee members were also not clear at this time on who would foot the bill for health insurance, which could be denied if a city council member is already on an existing plan.

“It’s not enough money to change lives, but it’s going to help out with the time they put in,” committee member Chris Torrey said.

Oppel said he could not support a recommendation that didn’t offer health insurance, which he said was “important,” or that didn’t have a minimum $1,000 stipend for city leaders. Oppel, who also advocated for city leaders to be reimbursed for attending conferences and holding town halls, said he thought Kyle should be an innovator and not a follower when it comes to city council compensation.

“I’m not sure I want to base anything on what other cities are doing. Just the opposite, I want other cities to look at Kyle,” Oppel said.

Tobias, however, was concerned about having a recommendation ready for city council to vote on before the April 16 meeting.

Tobias also worried about the scope of the salary increase, as well as how it could impact Kyle’s bottom line. Tobias argued cities such as San Marcos and Georgetown have larger tax bases than Kyle and are able to accommodate a higher rate of pay. Tobias supported giving the mayor a flat $800 stipend per month, with a $600 stipend to council members, but worried a higher amount could be seen as a “salary.”

“We need to ask ourselves what the mayor and city council are here for. Are they here to get a check or to serve the city,” Tobias said.

Katie Burrell contributed to this story.

Correction: In an earlier version of the story, we incorrectly reported the Kyle City Council compensation committee began meetings in March. The committee began meetings April 1. We apologize for the error. 

So how much do city council members get paid in other cities?

Below is the monthly stipends paid to city council members in various cities in Texas that were researched by the Kyle Compensation Committee. All population estimates are part of the July 1, 2017 U.S. Census Bureau estimate.

Kyle – Estimated population 43,480 (2017)

• Mayor – $200 per month
• City council – $100 per month

San Marcos – Estimated population 63,071 (2017)

• Mayor – $1,700 per month
• City council – $1,450 per month

Seguin – Estimated population 28,983 (2017)

• Mayor – $1,630 per month
• City council – $425 per month

Round Rock –  Estimated population 123,678 (2017)

• Mayor – $1,000 per month
• City council – $750 per month

Georgetown – Estimated population 70,685 (2017)

• Mayor – $1,800 per month
• City council – $1,200 per month

Hutto – Estimated population 25,367 (2017)

• Mayor –  $1,500 per month
• City council – $1,200 per month

New Braunfels – Estimated population 79,152 (2017)

• Mayor – $0
• City council – $0

Frisco – Estimated population 177,286 (2017)

• Mayor – $500
• City council – $350

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