CEO 79-46 -- July 19, 1979
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
CITY MAYOR CONTRACTING WITH COUNTY HOUSING AUTHORITY TO DEVELOP HOUSING PROJECT LOCATED IN CITY
To: Gordon G. Cooper, Assistant City Attorney, Oakland Park
Prepared by: Phil Claypool
No prohibited conflict of interest would be created were a city mayor to contract with a county housing authority to develop a housing project within the city where the county would own the project and would have ultimate control over it. Although s. 112.313(3), F. S., would prohibit the mayor from selling any realty, goods, or services to the city or to any agency of the city, it is the county housing authority which would be handling the housing project and with which the mayor would be doing business. The mayor also would be prohibited by s. 112.313(7)(a) from having a contractual relationship with an agency subject to the regulation of the city; but, in the instant situation, he would be contracting with the county housing authority, over which the city has no regulatory authority.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were a city mayor to contract with a county housing authority to develop a housing project within the city?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that Mr. Mainguy, the Mayor of the City of Oakland Park, intends to submit a bid or proposal to the Broward County Housing Authority to construct 100 units of housing for senior citizens and handicapped persons on property owned by him. This housing would be funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), through the Broward County Housing Authority. You also advise that the county housing authority serves only the unincorporated areas of the county and cannot be involved in a development in the city without a contract between the city housing authority and the county authority. Section 421.11, F. S. Under the contract, the county authority would be the sole governing agency and would determine which developer, proposal, site, and building would be acceptable for the awarding of the HUD project funds. The city authority would decide solely on whether or not to enter into an agreement with the county authority and would not decide which developer would be awarded the project. You further advise that the members of the city housing authority are appointed by the mayor with the approval of the city council. In a telephone conversation with our staff, you advise that the county would own the project and would have ultimate control over it.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides in part:
DOING BUSINESS WITH ONE'S AGENCY. -- No employee of an agency acting in his official capacity as a purchasing agent, or public officer acting in his official capacity, shall either directly or indirectly purchase, rent or lease any realty, goods, or services for his own agency from any business entity of which he or his spouse or child is an officer, partner, director, or proprietor or in which such officer or employee or his spouse or child, or any combination of them, has a material interest. Nor shall a public officer or employee, acting in a private capacity, rent, lease, or sell any realty, goods, or services to his own agency, if he is a state officer or employee, or to any political subdivision or any agency thereof, if he is serving as an officer or employee of that political subdivision. The foregoing shall not apply to district offices maintained by legislators when such offices are located in the legislator's place of business. This subsection shall not affect or be construed to prohibit contracts entered into prior to:
(a) October 1, 1975.
(b) Qualification for elective office.
(c) Appointment to public office.
(d) Beginning public employment.
[Section 112.313(3), F. S. 1977.]
This provision would prohibit the mayor from selling any realty, goods, or services to the city and to any agency of the city. However, it is the county housing authority which would be handling the housing project and with which the mayor would be doing business.
The Code of Ethics also provides:
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. 1977.]
This provision would prohibit the mayor from having a contractual relationship with an agency subject to the regulation of his agency. Again, under the situation you have described, the mayor would be contracting with the county housing authority -- not the city housing authority -- and therefore this provision also does not apply.
Accordingly, we find that the Code of Ethics does not prohibit the subject mayor from contracting with a county housing authority to develop a housing project within the city, where the county housing authority has the ultimate control over the project.