The newly elected majority in one of North Texas’ most conservative communities is asking November voters to pass a historic reform agenda, including term limits on elected officials and sweeping government ethics reform.
The exact proposition language set to appear on local ballots can be found online.
Colleyville’s government ethics agenda, known as Proposition 5, would require a higher degree of transparency for city employees—a disclosure standard far beyond what’s currently required of Texas’ lawmakers and high-ranking state employees.
Specifically, it requires senior city staff to file financial conflict-of-interest disclosures on an annual basis. These requirements already apply to Colleyville’s elected officials and other appointed board positions. The current Mayor Pro Tem and conservative standout, Chris Putnam, enthusiastically supports the entire reform package, an agenda he told Texas Scorecard is “long overdue.”
“The purpose of all the amendments is to restore permanent integrity to city hall,” said Putnam. “We want to take a closed system of government – one formerly controlled by a small circle of long-term incumbents, private developers, and city insiders – and evolve it back into a citizen or taxpayer-centric system of government.”
Some critics claim the current city manager owned several rental properties and would have benefited from high-density re-development and other related policy decisions in which she was directly involved – without having to disclose any potential conflicts-of-interest.
Other amendments, such as Proposition 3, would restore a key accountability provision previously removed from the city’s charter back in 2005. It would require council approval for the hiring of key department heads, including the City Secretary, Police and Fire Chiefs, Public Works Director, and Finance Department.
Currently those positions are unilaterally chosen by the City Manager, an arrangement Putnam says gives a single bureaucrat too much unchecked power.
Colleyville’s May 2016 election retired three long-time incumbents, ushering in two new council members – Tammy Nakamura and Bobby Lindamood – and a new Mayor, Richard Newton. All three were supported by Putnam and endorsed by Texans for Fiscal Responsibility.
The election shattered previous turnout records for the suburb, with each winning candidate earning 62 percent of the vote. After their victory, the new majority quickly went to work to fulfill promises made during their campaigns.
At their first meeting, the council passed a resolution opposing the controversial TexRail train project. Soon thereafter, they lowered the city’s property tax rate for the first time in over a decade, helping to mitigate massive appraisal spikes. They also reduced and flattened water rates by returning $1.2 million of excess revenue back to ratepayers, and accelerated several road projects.
But the proposed charter reforms will likely result in the most permanent protections for Colleyville’s taxpayers – if approved by local voters. Three of the amendments contain important limits on the power of future councils and city employees, and are aimed at fostering greater transparency and ethics.
All five of the charter amendments have the support of the council’s majority. An influential grassroots organization, Colleyville Citizens Opposed to High Density, supports the entire reform package and are circulating the following infographic to better explain the amendments in layman’s terms.