Hutto City Council approved hiring a third party lawyer, Ross Fischer, to investigate Snyder at council’s Aug. 29 meeting, with the investigation’s time frame originally anticipated to last approximately a month. Fischer addressed council Nov. 7 and confirmed no evidence found suggests Snyder had attempted to interject in city-related business dealings and negotiations.
Fischer said during his address to council that specific allegations made against Snyder that were included in the investigation were that Snyder allegedly had an exchange with a city employee in public, as well as an online exchange between himself and a separate city employee. Fischer concluded that he found both instances were “insufficient” to justify a charter violation.
“It’s my conclusion that that is not an effort by Council Member Snyder to direct the job employment of a city employee,” Fischer said.
Allegations initially raised against Snyder regarding alleged financial interference with Star Ranch’s proposed fuel station were also unsubstantiated by Fischer’s investigation, Fischer confirmed during the council meeting.
“It didn’t result in anything that was warranted to anything included in the report,” Fischer said.
The costs of the investigation, as confirmed by council and Fischer, were approximately $8,000. Council Member Tanner Rose said he did not agree with the city council voting to spend money on an investigation that, he said, was not clearly outlined to council prior to their vote.
In a statement made before council, Snyder denounced his alleged interference with Star Ranch as “bogus allegations.”
“It’s a way to bully and intimidate people to do things the way he wants it to be done,” Snyder said.
City Manager Odis Jones said, regarding allegations raised regarding Snyder’s alleged involvement with Star Ranch negotiations, that those concerns were raised by residents, adding that part of his job as city manager is to report residents’ concerns to Mayor Doug Gaul and Mayor Pro-Tem Tom Hines for their consideration and possible action proposals.
Council Member Peter Gordon quoted part of Fischer’s report that the city charter should not be used to “weaponize” or “silence” public officials. Fischer added that the charter exists to protect city staff from “the whims of elected officials,” and said that interactions with non-city officials do not constitute charter violations.
“It seems to me like what I’m learning....is that our idea of how much involvement the city council can and should have has been severely limited,” Gordon said.
Hutto City Council agreed to have the final report released to the public and posted online to help promote transparency with residents regarding the process and its findings.
“At this point, this council has got to work together,” Gaul said, later adding, “we want Hutto to be a better place.”