After three-plus months of contentious debate, Kyle city leaders June 4 gave the final green light for their own 900% pay increase.
By a split 4-3 vote, the Kyle city council narrowly approved an ordinance outlining the increase, which will bump city council members’ pay from $100 to 1,000 per month, while the mayor’s pay goes from $200 to $1,300 per month. Council members Alex Villalobos, Daphne Tenorio and Robert Rizo all voted against the pay increase.
The Kyle City Council will allow its members the option to take health insurance. If taken, the cost of the coverage would come out of their compensation pay.
Those decisions, however, came after several more rounds of debate among city leaders, with some worrying the pay raise was too exorbitant.
The decision closes a nearly three-month saga that generated a firestorm of controversy among the Kyle City Council and the community.
Dissenting council members said they were against the pay for various reasons from concern for fairness to part-time city employees, overall cost and to the philosophy behind public service.
“It’s just too much,” Tenorio said. “I’ve spoken with my constituents who surprisingly say the council should get a raise, but they also believe that this is too high.”
Tenorio motioned to adjust the recommendation to $500 monthly for council members and $700 for the mayor. While the motion was seconded by Villalobos, it ultimately failed by a 3-4 vote.
Villalobos in turn offered a compromise that would allow for the council to accept only half of the funds, if they so choose. Kyle’s city attorney advised against the option.
“My understanding is that, that was discussed with HR and that there is no tax consequence to decline it,” the attorney said. “Based on my reading of the charter amendment, there is not an ability for each council member to select a range of their salary. The amount is set by the ordinance and council members can choose to decline.”
Some council members said they felt the wording of the ordinance, paired with the amount of the raise, could create a political issue for members who seek to decline the full raise, but would still like to keep their current compensation.
Mayor Travis Mitchell as well as council members Rick Koch, Dex Ellison and Tracy Scheel supported the full raise including insurance.
“I would like to see us go forward with having this as an option,” Ellison said. “I kind of see it as an opportunity for someone who looked at city council as their primary role.”
In November 2018, Kyle voters approved a charter amendment allowing the Kyle City Council to adjust its compensation every three years. The ordinance allows each council member to appoint a nominee to a committee that’s charged with researching and developing a recommendation about how much city council member should be paid.
The compensation committee recommended council members get paid $1,000 each month with access to Kyle’s health insurance benefits. The recommendation proposed $1,300 for the mayor with the same insurance coverage.
With the amount now set, city leaders would not be able to adjust their pay again until 2022.