If money talks and all else walks, then Kyle city leaders could soon have to grab their megaphones.
This week the Kyle City Council-appointed Compensation Committee, which was created by a voter-approved amendment to the city charter, will finalize a recommendation that boosts the monthly stipend for Kyle City Council members roughly ten fold. That recommendation, which is being fast-tracked to be possibly voted on by April 16, includes the possibility of city leaders obtaining health insurance through the city.
Kyle city leaders will then get the chance to be the ultimate judge of their own pay raises.
Don’t we all wish we had that sort of power?
Truth be told, this recommendation generates the kind of heartburn that comes with a bowl of five-alarm Texas chili.
Mostly because few, if any, of the residents this city council serves could even dream of obtaining such a pay bump at their own jobs. That’s why I’m wholeheartedly against increasing city council pay by so much all at once.
But the larger problem with this whole situation is the seeming lack of impartiality in the process.
The city council appointing a committee to determine the council members’ own pay seems a bit underhanded. This follows a fast-track November 2018 charter amendment put at the end of the long ballot that enabled this council pay change in the first place.
To say Kyle pulled a fast one on its residents doesn’t feel like a farfetched notion. Sadly, it seems we’ll have to wait until the next charter review in 2021 before any changes can be made.
In the interim, it might be time to ask ourselves: what is the right amount city leaders should be paid?
After all, they do put in a lot of hours both on and off the dais to manage an ever-growing populace.
Slightly bumping up that stipend, perhaps anywhere from $400 to $700 per month for each elected official, might be the way to go.
It could offer a little help for those who balance a full-time job, a family life and the needs and wants for their constituents.
It could also dissuade those who run for office solely for the paycheck, while also giving the city time to gauge whether another increase could be warranted down the road.
Could Kyle reach a point when it might need to pay for the equivalent of part-time or full-time city leader?
Perhaps, but not right now – not when there are roads that need to be done, infrastructure to be completed and staff needing to be hired and compensated..
Let’s also not forget that while municipal elected officials craft policy, they don’t manage staff or budgets, which is the job of a team of hired city staffers.
We should also remember that public service doesn’t, and shouldn’t, guarantee a high-level of pay with benefits similar to a city staff position. They’re there to serve the public, not themselves.
More time is needed on this discussion. Trying to push a decision in just a handful of weeks seems like a petty cash grab.
Obtaining public input in a forum outside of a 5 p.m. Monday meeting is even more important.
After all, it’s the public’s money city leaders would be getting. We should have some say in that, too.