CEO 75-178 -- August 26, 1975
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
MAYOR RENTING PRIVATE PROPERTY TO ASSOCIATION USING TOWN PROPERTY FREE OF CHARGE
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
Prepared by: Gene Rhodes
Pursuant to s. 112.313(5), F. S., as amended by Ch. 75-208, Laws of Florida, a public officer is prohibited from holding employment or contractual relationships with any business or agency subject to the regulation of or doing business with his own agency. Where a municipality allows a nonprofit, social service organization the free use of city property, however, such relationship cannot be characterized as "doing business" with that organization within the meaning of the Code of Ethics. The mayor of that city, therefore, does not create a conflict of interest in renting private property to the nonprofit organization.
Am I, as mayor of ____, prohibited by the Code of Ethics from renting private property to the Y.M.C.A. when the town council allows the Y.M.C.A. to use a parcel of town property without charge?
Your question is answered in the negative.
As indicated in a written statement dated July 14, 1975, by the ____ Town Clerk and a letter dated January 22, 1975, to the Town Council from the Y.M.C.A., the council voted to allow the Y.M.C.A. to use a parcel of the town's property for the location of a trailer prior to the Y.M.C.A.'s approaching you with their offer to rent your land. There is nothing in the current Code of Ethics which would prohibit you from entering into the contemplated business arrangement.
A recent revision of the Code of Ethics, which takes effect on October 1, 1975, addresses your situation more specifically providing that:
No public officer or employee of an agency shall have or hold any employment or contractual relationship with any business entity or any agency which is subject to the regulation of, or doing business with an agency of which he is an officer or employee excluding those organizations and their officers who enter into or negotiate a collective bargaining contract with any state, county, municipal, or other political subdivision of the state when acting in their official capacity; nor shall an officer or employee of an agency have or hold any employment or contractual relationship that will create a continuing or frequently recurring conflict between his private interests and the performance of his public duties or that would impede the full and faithful discharge of his public duties. [Section 112.313(5), F. S., as amended by Ch. 75-208, Laws of Florida.]
Thus, under the revised code you would not be permitted to engage in business with the Y.M.C.A. if it is doing business with the Town Council. We do not believe, however, that where a municipality allows a nonprofit, social service organization the free use of city property, such relationship can be characterized as "doing business" within the meaning of the Code of Ethics.
The revised code would also prohibit you from having a contractual relationship that will create a continuing or frequently recurring conflict between your private interests and the performance of your public duties or that would impede the full and faithful discharge of your public duties. Section 112.313(7), F. S. We believe that your activity is not prohibited by this language for two reasons.
First, the ____ Town Clerk has certified to us that you do not vote on any issues during council sessions unless it is to break a tie. Thus, there is little likelihood of a frequently recurring conflict. Second, the Y.M.C.A. has permission to use the land only on a temporary basis as the property is earmarked for use soon in the Bicentennial Celebration. The possibility of a continuing or frequently recurring conflict is therefore unlikely because of the temporary nature of the situation.
We therefore conclude that your rental of private property to the Y.M.C.A. under the circumstances described above violates neither the present nor the revised Code of Ethics.