Pearland City Council at its May 23 regular meeting passed the second reading of an ordinance that amends the city’s ethics ordinance, making it so the city cannot enter a contract with former council members and any business they have a substantial interest in for at least 12 months after their successor is sworn in.
“The idea was that there should be a period of time in which a council member could not enter business with the city, and that’s simply codifying that here,” City Attorney Darrin Coker said.
According to the Texas Local Government Code, a person has a substantial interest in a business if that person owns 10% or more of the business’ voting stocks or shares; if the person owns $15,000 or more of the fair market value of the business; if funds received from the business make up 10% or more of a person’s gross income the previous year; or if a person related to the former council member has a substantial interest in the business.
The ordinance was originally set to limit the city from entering contracts with former council members and any business they have a substantial interest in for only nine months, but Council Member Alex Kamkar made a motion to extend the limit on doing business with former council members to a full year. The amendment was unanimously adopted by council.
While the ordinance passed on May 23 applies only to former council members, at the May 9 meeting, the current Pearland City Council requested a subsequent amendment to the ethics ordinance applying the same provision to current council members.
That amendment will come to council for discussion in June, Coker said. If adopted, the standard would be stricter than what is required by state law, he said.
“I think there is a commitment that the folks in the city understand that we are working for them, not trying to get money for them, necessarily, professionally,” Kamkar said.