The agenda item did not provide an extension of Jones' existing jurisdiction. Instead, it confirmed that he "has the authority to negotiate and execute all necessary agreements to effectuate the project expansion project which may include the purchase and sale of real estate and other agreements as necessary," per the agenda. Project expansion is a term used by the City Council for the mixed-use development slated for Hwy. 79 and CR 132, adjacent to Fritz Park.
During the July 3 meeting, Jones said he requested the item to be added to the agenda following several council members' raised concerns regarding his negotiations on the development. Jones added that the project's developers have already spent $10 million on the project, and it is imperative his executive authority was confirmed so he could keep the project's timeline on track.
"Currently today, I’ve been operating off the authorization you had previously provided," he said. "This is how economic development happens.”
Councilmember Mike Snyder proposed an amendment to the agenda item, warranting Jones the ability to negotiate deals related to the development, but denying him automatic access to executing related decisions without consulting the council.
Because of the confidentiality of agreements included with the development, City Attorney Bill Bingham said the city currently operates off a protocol that allows the city manager to determine which documents related to ongoing negotiations will be made available. The protocol Bingham referenced is not in writing, he confirmed.
Snyder said he has requested documents related to the Perfect Game project for six weeks without receiving any from Jones, an assertion Jones denied. Jones said he has not had any members of the council request additional information regarding the mixed-use development that has not already been provided.
Snyder added that his concern with the language of the item was not related to Jones personally, but was rather him looking out for the interests of city residents.
"Voting for this would be like signing a mortgage document without even looking at it," Snyder said.
Hutto City Council approved of the agenda item and reaffirmed Jones' executive authority with a 5-2 vote. Councilmembers Snyder and Tanner Rose voted against the item.