Hutto city manager, Economic Development Corp. members now to complete financial disclosures

UPDATED: Oct. 25, 3:40 p.m.

Hutto City Council unanimously approved and formalized an updated version of its financial disclosures ordinance at its Oct. 24 meeting, amending the language of the ordinance to also include Hutto's city attorneys and specify which local government officers' dependents must be listed.

The item was revisited by council at its Oct. 24 meeting, given that official execution of the ordinance requires two readings.

"In order to effectuate the actual disclosure, you need to, pursuant to the charter, have two readings," City Manager Odis Jones said.

Pursuant to the Texas Local Municipal League's Government Code Chapter 145, which outlines financial disclosures and standards of conduct for local government officers, the updated ordinance language would require financial disclosures for government officers in addition to "the individual’s spouse and dependent children, if the individual had control over that activity," per TML.

Examples of required financial disclosures for dependent children include if a local government officer has a trust or LLC in their dependent's name, or their dependent has a credit card that is an extension of their parent's line of credit, or if their parent was a cosigner on the dependent's checking account.

Chapter 145's language on financial disclosure statements is mandated on cities with populations greater than 100,000, but Council Member Mike Snyder said that that should not preclude Hutto from applying its practices to the city's own ordinance.

“We’ve got big time development coming," Snyder said, "we can act like big time people in my mind.”

ORIGINAL STORY: Oct. 18, 11:56 a.m.

Hutto City Council has updated its financial disclosures ordinance for city personnel, board and commission members, following a request by Council Member Mike Snyder to revisit the provisions.

The council voted 5-1 in favor of the amended financial disclosure ordinance at its Oct. 17 meeting, which would require council members, board and commission members, the mayor, Economic Development Corp. members and its coordinator along with the city manager and their staff to complete the disclosure form.

Council Member Patti Martinez was not present at the meeting, and Mayor Pro-Tem Tom Hines voted against the motion. Hines said all city personnel that make financial decisions are already required by state law to disclose conflict of interests and recuse themselves from related discussions.

Hutto's city charter requires all city officials to complete financial disclosure forms, with officials defined as council members and the mayor. The original ordinance, prior to its Oct. 17 amendment, defined city officials as the council, mayor, board and commission members.

Council confirmed that the legislative body is unable to change the city's charter, adding that it must go before citizens to vote on its amendment. Council retains the ability to update the ordinance's language.

The addition to the EDC, city manager and their staff, Snyder said, is important given that they have "a pretty big hand" in negotiating economic development deals for the city. Snyder added that anyone approving dollars spent by the city should be included in the financial disclosure requirements.

“What we as a council are able to do, we can’t change the charter but we can change ordinances," Snyder said. "This isn’t about trust. It’s about transparency and putting ourselves forward to the public.”
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