CEO 79-80 -- December 20, 1979
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
COUNTY COMMISSIONER SERVING ON BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF SPECIAL TAXING DISTRICT LOCATED WITHIN COUNTY
To: O. Earl Black, Jr., Assistant Leon County Attorney, Tallahassee
Prepared by: Phil Claypool
Section 112.313(7)(a), F. S., prohibits a public officer from being employed by or having a contractual relationship with an agency which is subject to the regulation of, or doing business with, his public agency. When a county commissioner is appointed by that commission to serve on the board of trustees of a special taxing district, such service constitutes neither employment nor a contractual relationship with the district. Accordingly, the Code of Ethics does not prohibit such service on the board of trustees, although the Attorney General should be contacted relative to the potential applicability of the dual officeholding prohibition contained in s. 5, Art. II, State Const.
Does a prohibited conflict of interest exist when a county commissioner serves on the board of trustees of a special taxing district located within the county?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that, several years ago, Leon County adopted an ordinance which set forth a procedure for the creation of independent special taxing districts within the county. Pursuant to s. 4 of ordinance 75-2, special taxing districts are governed by a board of five trustees, one member of which is appointed annually by the board of county commissioners with the remaining four members elected by the qualified electors of the special district. In 1975 one such special taxing district was created by county ordinance, you advise. In addition, you advise that the county commission historically has appointed one of its members to serve on the board of trustees of the district. You further advise that the charter of this special district provides that its trustees are to receive no compensation for the performance of their duties. Ms. Nelson, who has been appointed as the current commission appointee on the board of trustees, wishes to know whether a prohibited conflict of interest is created by that service.
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.]
This provision prohibits a public officer from being employed by or having a contractual relationship with an agency which is subject to the regulation of, or doing business with, her agency.
Members of the board of trustees of this special district are elected or appointed members of the governing board of the special district, the special district constituting a political subdivision under s. 1.01(9), F. S. Therefore, the members of the board of trustees are public officers rather than employees of the special district. See CEO's 77-95 and 77-143. Moreover, we note that the subject county commissioner does not receive any compensation for serving as a trustee.
Accordingly, the subject county commissioner does not have employment or a contractual relationship with an agency which is regulated by the county commission, and we find no prohibited conflict of interest in the situation you have described. Please note, however, that this opinion does not address the application of the dual officeholding prohibition of s. 5, Art. II, State Const. You may wish to contact the Attorney General regarding the applicability of that provision, since we have no jurisdiction to interpret it in an advisory opinion.