City hopes to add more transparency to council staff positions

Plan includes creating job descriptions, employee evaluations

SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio City Council Governance Committee discussed two recommendations Tuesday aimed at providing more transparency to City Council staff positions.

While aides to council members do much of the behind-the-scenes work, they are not city employees. District 9 Councilman Joe Krier said that obscurity has led some taxpayers to ask who the aides are, how much money they make, and what they do.

"Some of the problems that we had, long before I got on city council, (was) with phantom employees or people who are not in fact doing the work," said Krier.

The committee chose to move forward with a plan that would create a sort of paper trail for council aides in the form of official job descriptions, thorough personnel files, and employee evaluations.

"I think for the council members and for the folks that are doing the work, the aides, that it's very helpful to have a structure - some standards and expectations -  in place so that in the event, which we hope is unlikely, that there are questions from the public, that we would have something that we can refer to as far as documentation on their qualifications on the job that they've been doing and what the expectations are for them," said Mayor Ivy Taylor.

Another option under consideration was to make council staffers city employees. Doing so would make them eligible for full health care and retirement benefits. Committee members were tepid in their response to that recommendation, in part because it would limit the ability for council staffers to be politically active.

"I think we probably ought to (provide benefits to council staffers), but under the current structure we couldn't do that unless we amended the (city) charter," Krier said.

The issue will go before the full City Council next month.