CEO 78-14 -- March 15, 1978
FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE; CONFLICT OF INTEREST
APPLICABILITY OF DISCLOSURE LAW TO MUNICIPAL REDEVELOPMENT STUDY COMMITTEE; MEMBER OF COMMITTEE EMPLOYED BY REAL ESTATE CONCERN INVOLVED IN REDEVELOPMENT PROJECT OR OWNING PROPERTY IN REDEVELOPMENT AREA
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
Prepared by: Phil Claypool
A municipal redevelopment study committee which has no land planning or zoning responsibilities, has no budget, and whose powers are solely advisory and do not include the final determination or adjudication of any property rights, duties, or obligations constitutes an advisory body whose members are not subject to the annual filing of financial disclosure. Sections 112.3145(1)(a)2. and 112.312(1), F. S. 1977.
No conflict of interest would be created were a member of the redevelopment study committee to become involved commercially in the subsequent redevelopment project. Although s. 112.313(7)(a), F. S. 1977, prohibits a public officer from holding employment with a business entity which is doing business with his public agency, the real estate concern which employs the subject committee member will not be involved in the redevelopment project until after the committee has made its recommendation to the city council. At that time the committee will have served its function, and its members no longer will be public officers subject to the standards of conduct contained in the Code of Ethics. Based on this same rationale, no prohibited conflict of interest is created where a member of the redevelopment study committee owns real property which may be included by the city council in the redevelopment area.
1. Are the members of a municipal redevelopment study committee "local officers" subject to filing financial disclosure annually?
2. Would a prohibited conflict of interest exist were a real estate concern which employs a member of a municipal redevelopment study committee to become involved commercially in the subsequent redevelopment project?
3. Does a prohibited conflict of interest exist where a member of a municipal redevelopment study committee owns real property which may be included in the redevelopment area?
Question 1 is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that the City of ____ is considering the possibility of establishing a community redevelopment agency under the provisions of Ch. 163, F. S. You also advise that the city council has asked five citizens to serve on a redevelopment study committee to review the redevelopment statutes, the need for a community redevelopment agency, and the alternative methods of organizing such an agency. The committee will submit a report, including recommendations, to the city council but will have no other function or authority.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides that each "local officer" must file financial disclosure annually. Section 112.3145(2)(b), F. S. 1975. The term "local officer" is defined to include
any appointed member of a board, commission, authority, community college district board of trustees, or council of any political subdivision of the state, excluding any member of an advisory body. A governmental body with land-planning, zoning, or natural resources responsibilities shall not be considered an advisory body. [Section 112.3145(1)(a)2., F. S. 1975.]
It is apparent that the redevelopment study committee does not have any land planning or zoning responsibilities; its functions do not relate to the preparation, consideration, or adoption of a community redevelopment plan, which must be submitted by a community redevelopment agency to the governing body of the city for its approval. Section 3, Ch. 77-391, Laws of Florida.
Thus, if the redevelopment study committee constitutes an "advisory body," its members will not be considered to be "local officers." The term "advisory body" is defined to mean
any board, commission, committee, council, or authority, however selected, whose total budget, appropriations, or authorized expenditures constitute less than 1 percent of the budget of each agency it serves or $100,000, whichever is less, and whose powers, jurisdiction, and authority are solely advisory and do not include the final determination or adjudication of any personal or property rights, duties, or obligations, other than those relating to its internal operations. [Section 112.312(1), F. S. 1975.]
In a telephone conversation with our staff you advised that the committee has no budget. In addition, it is apparent that the authority of the committee is solely advisory and does not include the final determination or adjudication of any personal or property rights, duties, or obligations.
Accordingly, we find that the members of the redevelopment study committee are not "local officers" and therefore that they are not subject to the financial disclosure requirements of s. 112.3145, F. S. 1975. However, they will be considered "public officers" for purposes of the standards of conduct provisions of the Code of Ethics. Section 112.313(1), F. S. 1975.
Question 2 is answered in the negative.
You advise that ____, a member of the City of ____ Redevelopment Study Committee, is employed by a real estate concern which in the future may become involved commercially in the city's redevelopment project. You also advise that he is concerned as to whether such involvement might be prohibited because of his service on the committee.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides in relevant part:
CONFLICTING EMPLOYMENT OR CONTRACTUAL RELATIONSHIP. -- 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 is doing business with, an agency of which he is an officer or employee . . . ; 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(7)(a), F. S. 1975.]
The subject committee member's agency presently is the city. Section 112.312(2), F. S. 1975. It appears that the real estate concern which employs him might become commercially involved in a redevelopment project in a number of different ways, pursuant to part III of Ch. 163, F. S., as amended by Ch. 77-391, Laws of Florida. While some of these might constitute the concern's doing business with the city, the redevelopment project will not be planned or executed until after the committee has made its recommendation to the city council as to the need for and methods of organizing a community redevelopment agency for the city. At that time the committee will have served its function, and its members will no longer be public officers subject to the standards of conduct of the Code of Ethics, unless they are appointed to the board of commissioners of whatever redevelopment agency may be created as a result of the committee's recommendations.
Accordingly, we find that the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees does not prohibit the subject member of a municipal redevelopment study committee from being employed by a real estate concern which is involved commercially in the subsequent redevelopment project.
Question 3 also is answered in the negative, based upon the rationale of our answer to your second question.
You advise that ____, a member of the redevelopment study committee, is the owner of real property which eventually may be included in the community redevelopment area. The committee's authority, as set forth previously in this opinion, does not extend to determining which areas of the city will be eligible for redevelopment. In addition, the committee will have served its function prior to the time that the redevelopment plan is created or implemented, so that its members will no longer be considered public officers subject to the Code of Ethics. Please note that this opinion is based upon the subject officers' membership on the redevelopment study committee and upon the authority and responsibilities of that committee. This opinion should not be interpreted as applying to the members of whatever community redevelopment agency may be created by the city.