The hard lesson of optics in politics

I’ve taken some time to earnestly reflect on what transpired in the last week related to the controversy surrounding our city manager’s proposed contract extension that included an option to lease a house from the city. In a rush to respond to the melee of negative feedback, most of my statements were pithy and, admittedly, incomplete. If you care to read, I want to give a narrated account of what led me to support the contract. I will conclude with a few lessons I learned and a sincere apology to you, the residents of Kyle.

Let’s start from the beginning. A few months ago, I was notified that discussions were underway to extend our city manager’s contract through 2025. In small-to-medium size towns, the city manager is often one of the highest paid persons in the city because the city is often the largest employer. It is also a highly volatile position and prone to turnover.

Regardless, in a town exploding in population like Kyle, the city manager is a crucial position. The goal of a good council is to find a great city manager and keep him or her around for the long term.

Continue reading “The hard lesson of optics in politics”

Why we invested in a house for the Kyle City Manager

On Tuesday, 12/6, my colleagues and I approved a contract extension for the Kyle City Manager through 2025 that included a housing component. That component has been under scrutiny from the public after articles were written in the Hays Free Press and on KXAN.com. Social media has had a field day with the story. More media coverage will surely follow as I have been interviewed today by KXAN and the Austin American-Statesman. Considering the nature of how this contract has been perceived, I want to explain the facts of the deal and the rationale I used in making the decision.

Here are the facts of the housing component to the contract extension.

  1. The house will be built in Cypress Forrest at an amount not to exceed $550,000 plus closing costs ($6,500).
  2. The house belongs to the city, not the city manager.
  3. The city manager will lease the house from the city in the form of a salary reduction.
  4. The lease amount is equal to the purchase price of the home amortized over 30 years at 3.45% interest (~$29,500 annually).
  5. All city property, including this house, is exempt from property tax.
  6. The insurance for the home is covered under the city’s umbrella policy and the premiums are roughly $83/month.
  7. The city manager will pay for all utilities and routine upkeep of the property, but the city will pay for any substantial repairs – in other words, a standard lease agreement.

Continue reading “Why we invested in a house for the Kyle City Manager”

The Napping Trains of Kyle, TX

This week’s council session dealt with several interesting issues, the chief of which (to me) was whether or not to spend $270,000 kick starting the city’s plans to finally relocate Union Pacific’s rail siding away from downtown. We also discussed videos on LED billboards, took the next step in creating a stormwater utility, and appointed two new members to the Planning and Zoning Commission, among other things. You can read the agenda here and watch us deliberate via video here. I’m devoting this entire article on the rail siding relocation.

Train Stops in Kyle, TXItem 17. $270,000 for engineering to move Union Pacific Railroad siding away from downtown Kyle

Council: Postponed

Kyle has a train problem. A big, noisy, road-blocking train problem. Multiple times per day, the Union Pacific Railroad stops in downtown Kyle directly across Center Street. STOPS! Oftentimes the train will park for thirty minutes or more waiting for another train to pass. My wife and I joke that there’s time for an oil change at 4-Way Auto Shop while waiting.

Train stoppage has been a problem in Kyle for decades.

So, why haven’t we done anything about it?

Continue reading “The Napping Trains of Kyle, TX”

Votes – 20 Sep 2016

After a few relatively ho-hum council sessions, this week’s meeting was packed with substantial votes. We had a complicated business incentive, a landscape ordinance upgrade, a change in the way we calculate impervious coverage, and we applied for a $1,000,000 grant to help improve our wastewater infrastructure. I supported all of these items, but the business incentive was, perhaps, the most challenging and complicated vote I’ve made to date, so I’m going to spend the entirety of this article explaining what factors shaped my opinion. Fair warning, I’m going to explain this with transparency and in detail, so the article will be lengthy. Continue reading “Votes – 20 Sep 2016”

Votes – 17 Aug 2016

“Votes” is a log of the high-profile agenda items discussed and voted upon by the Kyle City Council. I will summarize the items and provide the reason for why I voted the way I did.

NOTE: Feel free to ask any questions or make any comments below. I will respond in a timely manner. You are welcome to respectfully disagree. Comments that are overly negative, overly personal, or disparaging will not be allowed.

Complete Agenda: Here
Council Video: Here Continue reading “Votes – 17 Aug 2016”

Votes – 2 August 2016

“Votes” is a log of the high-profile agenda items discussed and voted upon by the Kyle City Council. I will summarize the items and provide the reason for why I voted the way I did.

NOTE: Feel free to ask any questions or make any comments below. I will respond in a timely manner. You are welcome to respectfully disagree. Comments that are overly negative, overly personal, or disparaging will not be allowed.

Complete Agenda: Here
Council Video: Here

(BONUS: Skip to 13:55 in the video and watch the council stand and do an exercise, courtesy of Jennifer Crosby and For the Love of Go.) Continue reading “Votes – 2 August 2016”

Votes – 19 July 2016

“Votes” is a log of the high-profile agenda items discussed and voted upon by the Kyle City Council. I will summarize the items and provide the reason for why I voted the way I did.

NOTE: Feel free to ask any questions or make any comments below. I will respond in a timely manner. You are welcome to respectfully disagree. Comments that are overly negative, overly personal, or disparaging will not be allowed.

Complete Agenda: Here
Council Video: Here Continue reading “Votes – 19 July 2016”

Votes – 5 July 2016

“Votes” is a log of the high-profile agenda items discussed and voted upon by the Kyle City Council. The format for this series is pretty straight-forward. I will summarize the items and provide the reason for why I voted the way I did.

NOTE: Feel free to ask any questions or make any comments below. I will respond in a timely manner. You are welcome to respectfully disagree. Comments that are overly negative, overly personal, or disparaging will not be allowed.

There were three items of consequence discussed and voted upon at this meeting. Continue reading “Votes – 5 July 2016”

Votes – 21 June 2016

Offered to you today is the first installment of “Votes,” a log of the agenda items discussed and voted upon by the Kyle City Council. The format for this series is pretty straight-forward. I will summarize the items and provide the reason for why I voted the way I did.

NOTE: Feel free to ask any questions or make any comments below. I will respond in a timely manner. You are welcome to respectfully disagree. Comments that are overly negative, overly personal, or disparaging will not be allowed.

This week’s City Council meeting was relatively short, with a one-hour open meeting and a one-hour executive session. There were three items of consequence discussed and voted upon. Continue reading “Votes – 21 June 2016”