Kyle city manager declines offer of city-owned home

Scott Sellers, city manager of Kyle (KXAN Photo)
Scott Sellers, city manager of Kyle (KXAN Photo)

KYLE, Texas (KXAN) — Kyle City Manager Scott Sellers has declined the city’s offer to buy him, and future city managers, a home. Sellers says he does not think this is a good political move and will cause more divisions than he wants to see.

He made the announcement in Friday’s special meeting where the Kyle City Council was set to vote on the item. After Sellers voiced his concerns, the council, in a 5-0 vote, decided not to buy the home in the Cypress Forest neighborhood, as well as denying the approval of amending the city’s approved budget.

“While the council was doing the right thing, this is too divisive and we all want to do the right thing for the community. Therefore, I respectfully decline the offer by the city council to relocate my family into a city-owned home,” said Seller addressing the City Council. “I am heartbroken that this process that was intended to be for the good of the city has caused so much angst and contention.”

Cypress Forest neighborhood under construction in Kyle. (KXAN Photo/Lauren Lanmon)
Cypress Forest neighborhood under construction in Kyle. (KXAN Photo/Lauren Lanmon)

Earlier this week, the purchase seemed like a sure deal with the passing of an 8-year contract on the first reading, along with a plan to buy a home for the city manager. A sales agreement lists the price of the property at $550,000. Closing costs were expected to add $6,500 to the purchase price.

“I find it hard to believe that whatever we come up with moving forward will be as strong in a financial perspective,” said Council Member District 1 Travis Mitchell in Friday’s meeting. “But I don’t want to shove this idea down the people of Kyle even though I think it’s best.”

Mayor Todd Webster says Sellers has been a positive asset for the city and the agreement was meant to keep him long-term. Webster says Sellers has been financially responsible and has contributed to substantial savings for the city in his position as city manager.

“For example, he led a group of people to climb our water tower instead of paying someone to wash it. They climbed the water tower to wash the water tower themselves instead of contracting with someone else to save $200,000,” said Webster.

Sellers’ contract will now be renegotiated in a way that Webster describes as taking a more conventional path and something he hopes Kyle residents will approve of. “I don’t plan on starting from scratch, if the council and city manager agrees, I would hope that we could start with the components that have already been decided,” said Webster.

“While there again were certain quality of life aspects to this contractual provision, we’ll find those in another way,” Sellers said. “The most important part of being here in this capacity as city manager is doing the best things for the city of Kyle.”

The city, which would have owned the property, would have reduced Sellers’ base salary by $28,000 beginning Oct. 1, 2017, in exchange for use of the home. Mitchell told KXAN on Thursday that by reducing Sellers’ salary, the city will ultimately save on payroll taxes as well as a percentage of the raise he gets. Sellers, or future occupants, would have been responsible for all utility payments.

It is a requirement by the city of Kyle for the city manager to live within city limits. Mitchell says part of the decision to purchase the home is because Kyle currently doesn’t have what he calls “executive homes.” The city wanted the home to serve as an incentive for future city managers to choose Kyle of surrounding cities.

The money for the house comes from the balance in the city’s general fund. Future city managers would have been able to live in the home.

Sellers began working as city manager of Kyle in January 2015, previously working as city manager of Kilgore. Before that Sellers worked as the assistant city manager and acting city manager for Montrose, Colorado.