City of San Antonio, Texas
Ethics Advisory Opinion No. 2011-07
September 23, 2011
Issued By: City Attorney’s Office
May a city employee who owns an outside business enter into a contract to provide services to the City through his outside business?
A city employee owns a licensed HVAC company. The employee has received permission to do outside work from his direct supervisor. The city employee has inquired whether his company would be prohibited from seeking contract work with the City because of his position with the City.
III. The Ethics Code:
A. Conflicts of Interests Provisions
Section 2-48 of the City Ethics Code states that concurrent outside employment should not impair the performance of official duties, nor should a city employee provide services to an outside employer related to the employee's city duties.
The employee has stated that he would only undertake contracts that would be performed outside of his work schedule, and that the work is not related to his duties for the City. Given these circumstances, there would be no implication of the conflicts of interest provision.
B. Prohibited Interests in Contracts Provisions
Section 141 of the City Charter prohibits city officers and higher-level city staff members from having a financial interest in a contract with the city.
Section 2-52 of the Ethics Code restates and interprets this prohibition as well and defines a financial interest in a contract as follows:
2-52 (b) Financial Interest. An officer or employee is presumed to have a prohibited "financial interest" in a contract with the city, or in the sale to the city of land, materials, supplies, or service, if the employee or other certain individuals or entities are a party to the contract.
For purposes of applying Section 141 of the Charter under this Section, the City Code limits the applicability of Section 2-52 to only those individuals required to file a Financial Disclosure Report pursuant to Section 2-73(a) of the City Ethics Code.
Section 2-73(a) states that city officials, as defined in Section 2-42 of the City Code, and those individuals identified within 2-73(a) must file Financial Disclosure Forms. This employee does not fill out the long disclosure form, as they are not listed in Section 2-42 or 2-73(a) of the Code.
If a city employee seeking to do outside work with the City does not fall within those positions listed in 2-42(u) or 2-73(a) that are required to file a Financial Disclosure Form, they may seek to enter into a contract with the City.
The employee must also ensure that the outside work does not interfere with the performance of the employee's city duties. Additionally, any outside work should not be related to the employee's city duties as with the City. The employee must also obtain written approval from his supervisor before engaging in a contract with the City.