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City of San Antonio, Texas

Ethics Advisory Opinion No. 2011-07
September 23, 2011
Issued By: City Attorney’s Office

 

I. Issue:

May  a city  employee  who  owns  an outside  business  enter  into  a  contract  to  provide services to the City through his outside business?

II. Inquiry:

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.

IV. Conclusion

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.