See Texas Attorney General Opinion JC-225 issued May 22, 2000 

(the common-law doctrine of incompatibility precludes the City Council from appointing a member of the Council to a city board)

City of San Antonio, Texas

Ethics Advisory Opinion No. 34

October 4, 1999

Issued By: City Attorney’s Office

 

Whether a City Councilmember may serve as a member of the Greater Kelly Development Corporation.

 

The City Clerk’s Office has asked whether a City Councilmember may serve as a member of the Greater Kelly Development Corporation. The following facts are presented:

 

The Greater Kelly Development Corporation ("GKDC") is responsible for overseeing the redevelopment of Kelly Air Force Base as it moves from public operation to private ownership. The GKDC is comprised of eleven members appointed by the City Council to serve for a term of two (2) years. To that end, a member of the City Council has expressed interest in serving on the GKDC.

 

The issue is whether the City Councilmember may serve as a member of the GKDC given his position. Part A. Section 2. of the Code of Ethics[1] states that an "official" includes, among others, members of the City Council.

 

Improper Economic Benefit. As a general rule, a City official may not take any official action that he knows is likely to have an effect on, among others, his economic interest or the economic interest of a nonprofit entity for which he serves as an officer. If such occurs, the City official is required to recuse himself immediately, refraining from any further participation in the matter, and disclose in writing to the City Clerk the economic benefit. In other words, the Councilmember would not be allowed to vote on the yearly appropriation of funds to GKDC because this effects GKDC’s economic interest, but would be allowed to vote on non economic matters such as board appointments.

 

Prohibited Financial Interest in Contract. Part B, Section 10[2] prohibits City officers from having a financial interest in a contract with the City or its agencies. Under this section, a City officer includes, among others, a Councilmember.

 

To be in violation of this section, the City officer must have a financial interest in a contract with the City. A financial interest, includes, but is not limited to, being a party to a City contract. Technically, City Councilmembers are not under contract with the City to provide services. Rather, Councilmembers are compensated for their services pursuant to Article II, Section 6 of the City Charter. Section 6 states that "[e]ach member of the Council shall receive as compensation for his services as such member the sum of Twenty Dollars for each meeting of the Council attended [ ]." Therefore, there is no violation of this section should a member of the City Council serve as a member of the GKDC.

 

SUMMARY

 

A City Councilmember may serve as a member of the Greater Kelly Development Corporation. However, should an item involving the economic interest of GKDC come before the City Council on which the Councilmember must take official action, he must recuse himself immediately and disclose to the City Clerk.

 

 

 

FRANK J. GARZA

City Attorney



[1]   Currently codified in Ethics Code Section 2-42

[2]   Currently codified in Ethics Code Section 2-52