San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

October 7th, 2008
Committee structure, park plan, on Kyle docket

Editor at Large

KYLE – An initiative to overhaul Kyle’s citizens committee structure is expected to reach some kind of head tonight when the Kyle City Council meets for the first time in three weeks.

The meeting is pushed back to 8 p.m., 90 minutes later than the usual starting time, so councilmembers can attend National Night Out festivities in their neighborhoods.

In September, the council agreed to pass the first reading of a measure that would restructure all the committees to put a councilmember at the head of each one. Mayor Miguel Gonzalez, who supports the proposal, said putting someone with the responsibility and accountability of a councilmember in front of each committee would make the committees more accountable and strengthen the relationships between the committees and city staff.

Opponents of the idea, starting with Councilmembers David Salazar and Lucy Johnson, said the structure would remove power from citizens and discourage their participation.

The council was to give its final approval for the committee structure on Sept. 23, but tabled it when Councilmembers Michelle Lopez and David Wilson came in with additional reservations.

“I believe we have had some concerns from the citizens,” Lopez said.

Said Wilson, “We have people who are concerned, and we have people who want to get down to business.”

As is routine for second readings, the item is on tonight’s consent agenda, which is a grouping of generally non-controversial items that can be voted up or down in a single motion. However, any councilmember can pull a consent agenda item for separate discussion and, given that four of the seven councilmembers have gone on the record with concerns, that’s likely to happen.

The proposal sets up seven committees, with one councilmember established as the chair for each committee. The committees are designated as Strategic Planning and Finance, Community Relations, Public Works and Service, Mobility, Parks and Recreation, Safety and Emergency Services, and Economic Development and Tourism.

The first six of those committees will be subject to open meetings posting requirements, which means each agenda must be made public three days before their meetings. The council is setting up the Economic Development and Tourism Committee to be exempt from open meetings requirements because it will be involved in business matters of the kind usually handled by council in executive session.

Among the other wrinkles in the proposal are the re-designation of the Parks and Recreation Board to committee status, and the subsumption of the library committee as, basically, a subcommittee of the Community Relations committee. Each committee will be required to convene at least once every three months.

The ordinance stipulates that each committee will appoint a vice chair from among its citizen members. The city council would have the authority to dismiss any committee members or abolish any committee with or without cause.

The council also will address a variety of matters concerning the development of a 42-acre city park adjacent to Chapa Middle School on the north side of Beebe Road and the west side of Dacy Lane. First up tonight is the first public hearing on the annexation of the property, part of which the city already owns and the rest of which the city is purchasing.

The council also will consider naming the park, “Kyle Vista Park,” which the staff has selected from among 27 possible names. The reason for the name, as given by the staff in its memo to the council: “From the high elevation of the parkland, you have a great view, or vista, of Kyle. You can see miles of Kyle from this future park.”

Following that vote, the staff will review the park’s master plan with the city council. The plan is likely to get quite a workout in the community during the next year, because the city will ask voters to approve $18-20 million in bonding authority to build the park in an election tentatively set for November 2009.

In another matter of city interest, the council will decide whether to approve an agreement with Architexas, an Austin firm, to render architectural, engineering and other services relating to the restoration of the old city hall on the town square. Councilmembers hope to have the $670,000 project finished by next summer so the old hall can be re-opened as a downtown community center.

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One thought on “Committee structure, park plan, on Kyle docket

  1. The City will now be making recommendations on how to spend tax money – the bed tax – for tourism purposes behind closed doors. Of course, they will only be making “recommendations.”

    But maybe now that the City Council made the decision to micro-manage, they can get down to actually doing something worthwhile – like an ordinance to address development in the Blanco River watershed, or completion of the update for the City’s Comprehensive City Plan which a group of citizens worked on for months over a year ago, or an ordinance to address future development in CBD-2, or a master drainage plan for the City.

    Or not – since they are only required to meet once every 3 months under their new ordinance. We wouldn’t want to raise that bar too high for our city councilmen. It will be interesting to see just how much work they get accomplished over the course of the next 6 months.

    The ball is now in their court….And when these committees fail to produce, the blame will be laid at their feet. Of course, the councilman in charge of the Economic Development and Tourism Committee is off the hook – when you meet behind closed doors, it is difficult to have much public accountability, isn’t it?

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