Two tumultuous hours of debate Tuesday pushed Kyle elected officials to postpone voting by a week’s time on a possible city council pay increase.
Kyle City Council members will hold a public forum on the proposed pay increase and possibly take action during a special called April 23 meeting.
Nearly a dozen residents spoke during a public forum April 16 to express concern over the council compensation committee’s recommendation to pay the council $1,000 a month, the mayor $1,300 a month and provide health insurance to each elected official.
Kyle’s mayor currently is paid $200 a month outside of reimbursements for costs incurred on the job. City council members are paid $100 monthly and also receive outside reimbursements for job related expenses.
Prior to the public hearing, council members and Mayor Travis Mitchell said they heard responses from the community via email, phone calls and on social media speaking both for and against the raise. The council will offer constituents one more opportunity to speak before voting.
The topic of council compensation started in November 2018 when the city council drafted a charter amendment allowing the council’s monetary compensation to be reconsidered every three years. The amendment passed with 77% of the vote.
The amendment allows the city council to appoint members to the compensation committee. Committee members have a two-week period to research the topic and provide a recommendation to the city council, which then deliberates and votes on that recommendation.
While many residents said serving on the city council dais is completely voluntary and should go without pay, others felt that the pay raise is not enough.
Residents who advocated for city leaders to receive the current compensation package or none at all stood by the ideology that public service is voluntary.
Those who were in favor of a higher amount felt the financial and time impact serving on city council creates a noninclusive dais.
“I believe a raise for you guys is overdue because I’ve done it,” said former city council member Diane Hervol. “However, I do not believe the recommendation made by the committee is justifiable … I wonder how the council will justify (the increase) at budget time.”
Several residents and city council members said they’d prefer to see a pay increase that’s lower than the recommended amount and one that doesn’t include health insurance.
After the next meeting, city leaders will not be able to further increase the recommended stipend for three years. However, they could consider lowering and tailoring the recommendation.
Mitchell said he realized that he was “up against a wall” when trying to balance a business with his commitment to city council. Mitchell said he supports the increase in the hope that it will allow both current and future city council members the financial stability to continue service long-term.
“After being on council for the time that I have been … it’s been eye-opening because I’ve realized that with all I’ve done, I’ve just barely scratched the surface,” Mitchell said. “The longer you’re here, the more you learn how to get things done.”