In her annual State of the City address, Kyle Mayor Lucy Johnson referred to her city as an “American Success Story.” The mayor addressed a crowd of over 150 Kyle business representatives at the annual event hosted by the Kyle Area Chamber of Commerce. This year’s event was held on Tuesday, February 28, at the Hays Consolidated Independent School District’s Performing Arts Center in Kyle.
“2011 was one tough year to do business in Texas. We experienced rolling black outs, the worst winter freeze in decades, and then almost the entire summer, 85 days, with highs above 100 degrees,” said Johnson. “But still Kyle grew; commercially and residentially, we grew. And the longer I’m in this job, the more I realize that our growth isn’t primarily based on our magical location on the I-35 corridor, or our ready availability of cheap land and affordable utilities. Our success comes from the fact that I can’t think of any other place where there are so many people who have the ability and the drive to come together in one room, sit down, and make things happen.”
Mayor Johnson thanked the Kyle Area Chamber of Commerce for their partnership and leadership that has played a large role in the city’s success and congratulated them on their success and growth in 2011.
The City of Kyle’s highly successful economic growth was a cornerstone of Mayor Johnson’s speech. The Mayor cited the City Council’s recently adopted Economic Development Policy Statement as a key to that continued success. The statement outlines that economic development is everyone’s responsibility, puts emphasis on redevelopment of Kyle’s downtown, promotes tourism, and makes economic development a priority across multiple city departments.
“In 2010, the US census showed that Kyle had a population of 28,016, but what they didn’t show is that within a five-mile radius of the center of Kyle, the population is close to 45,000,” said Mayor Johnson. “Our primary trade area, an approximate 12-mile radius, contains 191,000. Our median household income is $76,000, yet the majority of our population is still under 30.”
Mayor Johnson also touted the City’s improved outreach to the public by recognizing the City’s Gold Leadership Circle Award for government transparency, a new and more interactive web site, the Kyle Leadership Academy and the City’s new international role in hosting delegations from other countries to learn about our form of government.
“Since last fall, Kyle has also been reaching out and building relationships with a much wider community thanks in part to our new relationship with the US State Department,” said Mayor Johnson. “Delegations from Mozambique, Angola, Sao Tome and Principe, Yemen, and most recently, Pakistan, have been visiting Kyle to learn about how small cities in Texas function, and the role of female leadership in local government.”
Despite a very tough and thin budget in the face of the national recession, The City of Kyle has also been able to grow services and facilities. The City is about to open a new 20,000 square foot library, a new Parks and Recreation Office in the new Lake Kyle Park, hired 11 new police officers, a warrant officer, and will move the police department into a larger facility later this year.
Mayor Johnson also discussed Kyle’s water management plans and how the drought has changed how we use and pay for water. In the 2011-2012 budget, the City of Kyle raised water and wastewater rates by 30% and 25% respectively. This was the first time in eleven years that water and waste water rates in Kyle had gone up.
“In Kyle, water use increased dramatically as homeowners and businesses struggled to save our own trees, shrubs and lawns,” said Mayor Johnson. “On multiple occasions this summer the city exceeded are maximum daily capacity to produce water, leading the city council to authorize the purchase 2.2 million gallons of water a day from GBRA, instantly increasing our wholesale water costs by nearly 50%.”
Mayor Johnson also remarked on new residential development in Kyle and the City’s support of mixed-use developments, variable densities and other planning strategies that help reduce the strain on city services.
“Old ideas, like courtyard homes, zero lot lines in commercial districts, and mixed-use buildings that have been brought back thanks to the appeal of new urbanism and the next generation of developers, are not just trendy, they are far more sustainable then traditional single-family suburbs and help foster a sense of community.”
The Mayor also touched on the many road and transportation improvements that are currently underway in Kyle and asked for the community’s support in a possible bond referendum being discussed for November.
“This year, the city council is considering holding a bond election in November to pay for the widening and repaving of Burleson, Goforth, Bunton, and Lehman Roads,” said Mayor Johnson. “These four roads currently meet almost every standard of awfulness you can come up with: they are too narrow, too bumpy, too dangerous, and we have lived with them for too long. If you feel that we deserve better roads, please join me in support of calling this road bond election.”
In closing, Mayor Johnson asked for continued participation from the community and announced that there will be a Community Forum on Saturday, March 24th, to gather input from the citizens of Kyle on what projects are most important and how to pay for them.
“You are so good at supporting the businesses that make this city prosper, now it’s time support your city and tell the city council where you want us to take you,” said Mayor Johnson.
The entire text of Mayor Johnson’s speech and the presentation materials presented by the mayor are available below.