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Kyle council approves 20% general wage increase

By Amira Van Leeuwen 

Correction: This story has been updated to correctly reflect Travis Donnell’s affiliation with CTC Residential, LLC.

KYLE — Kyle city hall welcomed a full house on Aug. 16 where council approved several agenda items including unanimously approving an amendment to the proposed FY 22-23 budget that includes a 20% general wage increase, a $500 per month car allowance for department heads and a $1,000 HSA card for every city employee. 

Acting city manager. Jerry Hendrix presented three different plans to council – gold, platinum and titanium.

Features of the gold plan were a 10% general wage increase, a $500 monthly car allowance for all department heads and a $500 preloaded health savings debit card for all city employees.

Contributed Photo The Kyle City Council amended an ordinance to rezone approximately over 15 acres of land located at Kyle Parkway.

The gold plan would have approximately $314,000 to the annual budget. The platinum plan included the same car allowance and health savings account. This plan had a 15% general wage increase as opposed to 10%. The platinum plan would add about $878,000 to the annual budget.

 The approved titanium plan will add approximately $1.6 million to the annual budget.

“These plans are designed to really tell, not only the staff that we have that we value them and we want you to stay here and continue doing a great job that you’re doing, but we want to tell the rest of the world that Kyle cares about recruiting quality staff and we’re willing to go above and beyond to recruit them,” Hendrix said.

The council also approved an amended ordinance to rezone approximately 15 acres of land.

The 15.542-acre property will be rezoned from Retail Service District to Planned Unit District – Mixed Used District located at 58539 Kyle Parkway.

The council members listened to an extensive presentation by Travis Donnell, speaking on behalf of CTC Residential, LLC. He said they made it a priority to learn about Kyle and residents’ wants and needs. 

According to BGK’s Architects Downtown Survey, Kyle residents want family-friendly places with interactive infrastructure for kids, small, local unique businesses, unique restaurants with outdoor seating, walkable streetscapes and “Instagram-able” moments. Donnell’s presentation included several different sight plans and preliminary renderings.

The project’s five benefits to Kyle include being a privately funded community and park expansion of the Vybe Trail Network, five to 10 small and medium-sized business opportunities, superior and differentiated apartments, a new traffic signal to reduce traffic and immediate long-term financial benefit to the city, Hays CISD and the county. 

“We expect our project will generate at stabilization when it’s open and running and filled up for approximately $1.7 million in growing annuity,” Donnell said.

“I think you did an excellent job of taking everyone’s feedback and really transitioning this into a project we can say ‘yes’ to,” council member Ashlee Bradshaw said.   

Donnell will give a second reading on the zoning on Oct. 8. 

The city council also received a recommendation from the Council Compensation Committee to keep the city mayor and city council’s monthly compensation at current levels. Currently, the mayor gets $1,300 per month ($15,600 annually) and city council members each receive $1,000 per month ($12,000 annually.

The compensation committee also voted to keep using the mileage reimbursement for business use of personal vehicle, which includes reporting miles driven, business purpose and what place was traveled to and from. 

“It was my understanding that hasn’t been used very much because people think that’s a cumbersome process; we thought, as a committee, perhaps the city could look into ways to make that a little easier to report,” said Rose Burke, council compensation committee chairperson. 

The committee also recommended that the city council look into VoIP (Voiceover Internet Protocol) opportunities. 

According to Burke, the city’s Director of Finance Perwez Moheet made a strong case for increasing council compensation; however, after the committee voted, there was another discussion regarding the merits of treating city council work as a full-time job. Burke said that at this time, the consensus was to wait another three years, and then maybe “the city of Kyle would be ready for such a change.”

“It’s hard, you know, we just have our interpretations of what we see people doing, which council members are doing what, we’re only guessing who puts more time in, who puts less time in,” Burke said. 

Mayor Travis Mitchell said he would have liked to see some consideration for an increase in compensation and was disappointed that the committee did not consider things like inflation. 

Council member Daniela Parsley said that the position is not just two meetings a month but requires a lot of reading and a lot of learning. 

“I would want to know that the person that is sitting in your seat next is going to have time available to meet with developers, with residents, with planners, with staff and doesn’t have to struggle financially because you have to keep a 40-hour a week job and doing this,” Parsley said. “I don’t see how that’s reasonable because you’re limiting these positions to people who are financially stable, and so that is going to make less people available to run.”

Council member Yvonne Flores-Cale said that the budget was increased by almost $130,000 and if a salary of $50,000 were to be added, that would make the budget almost $400,000. 

“During a time where we have a road bond and we are in an inflation-filled country right now, or people can’t even afford homes. I would feel incredibly guilty taking an amount that equals an average paying job in probably San Marcos or Kyle when I already have one,” Flores said. 

The council heard a second reading of the budget and held a public hearing during its next meeting on Monday and will hold another on Thursday,  Aug. 25.

“The public hearings give the public time to come forward and speak if there are folks who have opinions outside of the committee and this body,” Mitchell said. “That is the only action that we could take at this point.”

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