CEO 76-154 -- September 13, 1976
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
CITY COMMISSIONER SERVING AS FIRE COMMISSIONER FOR CITY
To: Kenneth L. Meer, City Commissioner, Callaway
Prepared by: Bonnie Johnson
Although a conflict of interest was found to exist in CEO 76-109 where a city commissioner privately served for compensation as a member of the city's volunteer fire department, where a city commissioner is designated as fire commissioner pursuant to city ordinance, no conflict is created. Florida Statute s. 112.313(7)(a)(1975) prohibits a public officer from having employment or a contractual relationship with an agency regulated by his public agency; but the instant service as fire commissioner constitutes neither employment nor a contractual relationship. Rather, such position is part and parcel of service on the city commission and accordingly creates no conflict under s. 112.313(7).
Is a prohibited conflict of interest constituted where I, a city commissioner, am specifically designated to serve, as part of my public duty as fire commissioner for the city?
Your question is answered in the negative.
It is our understanding, based on your letter of inquiry, that upon taking office as a city commissioner you were designated by the mayor, pursuant to City Ordinance No. 127, to serve as fire commissioner. This ordinance provides that the mayor periodically designate certain commissioners to serve as supervisors over five city departments: The department of city administration and public affairs, the water department, the streets and lights department, the police department, and the fire department. You further advise in your letter of inquiry that you receive a salary as city commissioner, but derive no additional compensation for your service as fire commissioner.
In pertinent part, the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides that
[n]o 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 is doing business with, an agency of which he is an officer or employee. . . . [Fla. Stat. s. 112.313(7)(a)(1975).]
Based on the above provision, a conflict of interest was found to exist in a previous opinion of this commission where a city commissioner privately served as a member of the city's volunteer fire department, for which he was compensated annually by the city. See CEO 76-109, referenced in your letter of inquiry. We perceive a distinct difference in the instant case, however. First of all, serving as fire commissioner derives from, and is part and parcel of, your public service as a city commissioner. Secondly, you are not employed by the fire department, for you receive no financial benefit distinct from your salary as a city commissioner. Accordingly, you do not have employment or a contractual relationship with an agency, the fire department, which is regulated by your public agency, the city commission, and we find no prohibited conflict of interest in the situation you describe.