By Samantha Smith
A new ordinance passed in Austin March 24 delaying timing of criminal background checks could mean a trickle down effect, and possibly a debate, on the feasibility of those rules in Buda and Kyle.
Austin’s new ordinance, called the Fair Chance Ordinance, delays an employer running a criminal background check until a job candidate is about to be offered a job.
Currently, neither the Buda nor Kyle city councils is contemplating a similar ordinance.
Kyle Mayor Todd Webster said he was surprised to hear that Austin would pass such an ordinance, as it would be a hindrance to business owners due to the costs involved in the hiring process.
Webster addressed his concerns primarily about incoming businesses to Kyle.
“If business owners see that we are going to impose an ordinance on their hiring procedures, it is only going to discourage them coming to Kyle, and we don’t want that,” Webster said.
Kyle business owner Lilia Rios who owns several businesses in the city including The Grind House coffee shop, Centerfield Sports Bar and Grill, and Desperados, said she believes “everyone deserves a fair chance one hundred percent.”
But Rios said that due to the high cost of background checks, she does not run them. She said having a criminal background would not necessarily disqualify applicants from a position at any of her businesses.
Rios weighed in on the possibility of the Fair Chance ordinance coming to Kyle.
“I think it would be a good thing for Kyle since we’re growing, but if there is going to be some sort of law that mandates the hiring practices of small businesses, there needs to be some sort of grant funding to help small businesses cover the extra costs of it,” Rios said.
Buda Mayor Todd Ruge was more optimistic about the ordinance.
“We (Buda) would be interested in the ordinance, but Austin would have to take the lead and pass it first for there to be a conversation about it in Buda,” Ruge said.
The reactions of citizens after the passing of the ordinance in Austin are still mixed, however.
According to a KXAN report, Austin council member Greg Casar said he would remember when the ordinance was passed and that it “paved the way for people to have a second chance.”
Per the KXAN report, two Austin council members, Don Zimmerman and Ellen Troxclair, were concerned the ordinance could push small businesses “further away.”
Rios said losing the small town feel is the last thing the cities of Kyle and Buda want to happen. She said without the “small-town” feel, they wouldn’t be the same, and that small, local businesses preserve that atmosphere.
Ruge, who has been following the issue closely, sees both sides of the debate.
“I can understand why this ordinance would be helpful to citizens with a criminal background, to better move on with their lives,” Ruge said.