Plans for calling a November bond election aimed at expanding Kyle Police Department (KPD) facilities was rejected Tuesday by city leaders.
By a 6-0 vote, the Kyle City Council denied placing a bond election on the Nov. 5 ballot meant to pay for a new or renovated KPD building. Council member Daphne Tenorio was absent and did not vote.
The decision came after city leaders held a public forum to hear citizen concerns and thoughts on KPD facility expansion proposal.
Reports indicate the KPD’s current facility, located on Front Street, is at least 10,000 square feet too small for the number of officers and the city’s growing population. KPD’s facility is a hot button topic and has been for nearly a decade as Kyle continues to grow.
“We decided it was too much crunch time,” Mayor Pro Tem Dex Ellison said. “We needed more time to do it right.”
Ellison and other council members agreed they would be approving a bond measure for the department before knowing how much would be required or what it would be for – a new facility for the police or city hall.
The department will now remain in its bank-turned-department building in downtown Kyle as the city is out of bond capacity to pay for a new facility and will not be seeking more.
Vitriol surrounded the subject as the department is expected to grow while remaining in inadequate space. Citizens showed concerns for the council’s interest in using city hall as more police department space.
Had the bond measure gone to voters, and possibly approved, city hall would have been moved to a brand new or rented building.
The rented building option would bring no value to the city; a newly-built city hall would harbor a hefty price tag and leave KPD with another “hand-me-down” building.
Following rejection of the bond proposal, Kyle will no longer consider raising property taxes. City leaders contemplated a possible tax hike in order to create additional bond capacity.
The proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2019-20 Budget does not suggest a tax increase for any other reason.
Kyle’s budget proposes the addition of eight full-time, police officers in addition to the department’s current 52 officers. Mayor Travis Mitchell said the positions are likely to be approved and that room will have to be found.
Kyle City Hall could still be moved to Plum Creek, the new Uptown Kyle being planned, or anywhere else, but Mitchell said the city does not currently have plans to do so without continuing to work on a solution for the police.
“It was always a tall order to ask for the citizens to approve a $21 million bond in the middle of a budget cycle,” Mitchell said. “All options are still on the table and it is up to the council. We can’t let this drop.”