Pearland could restrict doing business with former City Council members under new ordinance

PEARLAND, Texas -- Pearland City Council members' personal businesses could soon be regulated when it comes to agreeing to contracts with the city shortly after they leave office.

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At a May 9 meeting, City Council adopted the first reading of an amended ordinance changing the city's ethics code of ordinances making it so Pearland cannot enter a contract with a former City Council member or a business entity in which a former City Council member has a substantial interest in for at least nine months after the former member's successor is sworn into office.

"For the benefit of the citizenry, we put in provisions that as council members, if we own part of a business or fully own a business, we cannot contract with the city of Pearland," said Council Member Trent Perez, who pushed for the ordinance.

The May 9 meeting was Perez' final meeting on council due to being termed out.

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's 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.

Several council members and Pearland Mayor Kevin Cole brought up various concerns with the ordinance, including Alex Kamkar, who asked what the expectation for current council members is when it comes to their businesses entering contracts with the city.

Pearland City Attorney Darrin Coker said the ordinance, if approved in the second reading, would not apply to current council members because it is in a different section of the city's ethics code of ordinances.

"What we would be applying to the former council member would be more stringent," Coker said.

State law allows the council to vote on a contract with a business in which a council member has a substantial interest in, but that council member would have to file a conflict affidavit and then would not be allowed to participate in any of the discussion or vote, Coker said.

Several council members and Cole said it is something they need to revisit down the road.

"I think this is a good step in the right direction," Council Member Luke Orlando said.

The May 9 meeting was also his final on council after he lost his election race for Position 1 to Joseph Koza.

"I appreciate Member Perez bringing this forward. As this came out tonight, there is a lot of room here that we could work and grow, and I think this should be the start of this discussion and not the end of it," Orlando added.

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