Hutto City Council 6-1 voted in favor of conducting a third-party investigation into the office of the city manager at its Dec. 5 meeting. Mayor Pro-Tem Tom Hines voted against the motion, initially made by Council Member Mike Snyder.
Snyder said he was in favor of enacting a third party to look into the city manager's office to remove any doubt of the functioning of the investigation.
“Me having gone through that?" Snyder said. "It feels good to be cleared.”
Council Member Peter Gordon, who seconded Snyder's motion, said he is interested in removing any doubt related to the functioning of the city manager's office and believes an external investigation will assist in that. Snyder added that, regardless of what a third party investigation may entail, it will allow for the city to see areas where it has excelled as well as how it can improve.
“Mr. Jones can move forward and say the same things I did when my report came out," Snyder said.
UPDATED: 10:55 p.m.
Hutto Mayor Doug Gaul has responded to calls from Hutto City Council Members Mike Snyder and Tanner Rose for consideration of an investigation into the city manager's office.
"The Hutto City Council, as a body, made what I believe to be the right decision," Gaul said in a statement to Community Impact Newspaper on Nov. 25. "We as a body make decisions based off a majority vote despite whether a council member agree."
Hutto City Council voted 5-1 in favor of a separation agreement with Hutto City Manager Odis Jones at council's Nov. 21 meeting. Rose voted against the motion, while Snyder was not present at the meeting.
Hutto City Council Members Mike Snyder and Tanner Rose have publicly criticized the separation agreement approved between the city of Hutto and City Manager Odis Jones at council's Nov. 21 meeting. Snyder and Rose called for a special called meeting to discuss and consider a potential investigation into the city manager's office in a Nov. 25 news release.
The release requested three specific items be added the agenda: “consideration and possible action regarding the City Manager’s Contract, as may be amended”; “consideration and possible action regarding the Consulting Agreement with the City Manager”; and “consideration and possible action regarding opening a Chapter 3.16 investigation regarding personnel matters regarding the office of City Manager."
In the release, Snyder and Rose specifically criticized the handling of the Nov. 21 agenda item regarding Jones' contract with the city, adding that Mayor Doug Gaul "interrupted and prematurely ended" the public comment time of two residents who spoke on the agenda item. Both Snyder and Rose cited the recently passed H.B. 2840, which reads as follows:
"A governmental body may not prohibit public criticism of the governmental body, including criticism of any act, omission, policy, procedure, program, or service. This subsection does not apply to public criticism that is otherwise prohibited by law.”
Following council's executive session to deliberate the item, a motion was made and no further discussion was held prior to the vote. Hutto City Council voted 5-1 to approve Jones' separation agreement. Snyder was not present for the Nov. 21 meeting, while Rose voted against the motion.
In a phone call with Community Impact Newspaper on Nov. 22, Jones said he is proud of the work he has done in Hutto and the development he has helped bring to the city. He said that while some council members and residents have not been as enthusiastic on the city's growth pace, he has helped bring solvency to the city's financial standing and promote private investment.
Per the release, Snyder and Rose are requesting a special called city council meeting on Nov. 29, with the aforementioned three agenda items included for discussion and possible action. Snyder and Rose added that they have both been in discussions with the Texas Rangers and the Williamson County District Attorney.
"When we, as the City Council of Hutto, make decisions that require the expenditure of the City’s tax dollars, the citizens have a right to hear the who, what, when and most importantly why," Snyder and Rose wrote in the release.
Editor's note: This post has been updated to include the mayor's reaction to the Nov. 25 press release.