Kyle City Council Member Dex Ellison brought forth an agenda item Oct. 4 to implement a process that would have created a human services board or commission that would have been responsible for creating a fair and equitable process for allocating grand funding to nonprofits that serve the city of Kyle. After some discussion and conflicting feelings toward the item, it was ultimately denied in a 5-2 vote with Council Members Ellison and Yvonne Flores-Cale being the only ones to back it.
Since Ellison’s first term in November 2017, nonprofits have approached council members looking for funding to be allocated through budget workshops, he said. However, he said that there is currently no set process in place for nonprofits to request funding. In order to change that and create an equitable process, he drafted this agenda item. He provided information about how other cities in the area approach this issue.
Buda and San Marcos have applications for grant funding regardless of the nonprofit, according to Ellison. As opposed to a “free for all” process, as Ellison described it, city of Austin leaders focus on a specific gap they hope to fill within the community and allocate funding to it. Nonprofits that fall within that focus can apply to receive funds.
“Certainly there’s a precedent for doing these human services grants, all throughout Texas and certainly in our corridor. I wanted to make the council aware of that, that there are options on how to go about doing this,” Ellison said.
The plan would have been to create a task force of the council that would have worked with city staff to create a policy and parameters for the commission to follow. If passed, the committee would have worked on allocating funding through budget workshops, and nothing would have gone into effect until fiscal year 2022-23.
“I find it disturbing that the city of Kyle has not made an effort to give back to certain kinds of organizations that directly benefit our residents,” Flores-Cale said. “To not give back seems a little bit irresponsible and arrogant to just assume that other people are going to take care of our residents.”
Council Member Robert Rizo added that, as someone who is part of a nonprofit and has received feedback from residents, he believes taxpayer money should go toward roads and infrastructure.
“I’m a person that believes in charity, but think it should be happening on individual basis where individuals want to give to charity,” Rizo said.
Council Member Ashlee Bradshaw added that while she was thankful Ellison chose to bring this forward, it is hard for her to justify the creation of a committee when the city is constantly growing and cannot fund the roads it needs funded and cannot fill vacant positions.
Circling back to Ellison’s research, Mayor Travis Mitchell said Buda is one of the reasons the council had previously decided against creating a commission for this purpose.
“There’s a lot of fighting over resources and dollars, a lot of hurting feelings and, at the end of the day, it just became very political,” Mitchell said. “There are always going to be winners and losers.”
Ultimately, Mitchell said he believes it is not the council’s responsibility to tax citizens, take their money and allocate the money elsewhere.
“The comment was made that it would be arrogant of us not to participate in that, and there are those who would say that it might be arrogant of us to think that we can do better with citizens' money than they can do with their own money, ... and for me that’s always where I stood,” Mitchell said.