Amid mixed reviews from constituents, Kyle city leaders Tuesday gave the green light to a 900 percent pay raise for themselves.
The measure, done by a 4-2 Kyle City Council vote, would increase city council members’ pay from $100 per month to $1,000 per month, while the mayor’s pay increases from $200 per month to $1,300 per month. Council members Alex Villalobos and Daphne Tenorio cast the lone dissenting votes.
But city leaders also voted 4-2 to deny a provision allowing them to receive health insurance paid for by the city. Mayor Travis Mitchell and council member Rick Koch both supported insurance measure.
Perwez Moheet, Kyle finance director, said the 900-plus percent pay increase would cost Kyle approximately $123,000 annually. That amount is expected to be factored in during Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 discussions later this year. Base payment for city council members stipends had been $9,600 per year.
Mitchell said he felt the council and mayor positions should be compensated enough to supplement losses possibly incurred by taking the position. Mitchell said council members sometimes must reduce the hours they work or drop health insurance to have time and resources to serve on council.
“There is a sacrifice made by people who take this office,” Mitchell said.
Tenorio opposed the salary increase, citing a high starting point.
“I would be willing to approve $500,” Tenorio said. “I’d rather see $300 but I know I have to give a little too, but ($1,000) is too much to start with.”
City leaders also sparred on the addition of health insurance, which would have bumped up the total cost to $170,000 annually. The disagreement led Mayor Pro Tem Dex Ellison to split the issue into two separate votes.
“If we cannot pay our part-time employees health insurance, I don’t believe we should take that ourselves,” said council member Tracy Scheel, whose sentiment was echoed by other council members who opposed the health insurance option.
Division extended to residents who offered their input on the matter during public comment.
Some residents supported the raise and health insurance, others supported only the raise and some supported nothing at all. Regardless, council members said they saw increased attendance and participation in city affairs and hope to continue the trend.
The decisions close a saga that began when Kyle voters in November 2018 approved a charter amendment allowing the city council to appoint a compensation committee to review their pay every three years. The charter amendment also allowed for the city council to decide on the committees recommendation.
In April, the city council appointed compensation committee met three times to deliberate possible changes to city leaders’ pay. Committee members recommend the $1,000 and $1,300 pay increases, as well as the option for health insurance.
Should the proposed pay increases be included and approved within the budget, those raises would not got into effect until Oct. 1.