CEO 83-5 -- January 27, 1983
CONFLICT OF INTEREST; VOTING CONFLICT OF INTEREST
CITY COUNCIL MEMBER EMPLOYED BY COUNTY
To: Mr. Glenn R. Bright, Sr., St. Cloud City Council Member
No prohibited conflict of interest exists where a city council member is employed by the county as director of its civil defense office and its emergency medical service, where there is an interlocal agreement between the city and the county establishing the emergency medical service program. CEO's 76-203, 76-2, 80-5, and 81-5 are referenced. As a member of the city council, however, the official would have a voting conflict of interest pursuant to Section 112.3143, Florida Statutes, if he should vote on the decision to enter into or renew the interlocal agreement.
Does a prohibited conflict of interest exist where you, a city council member, also are employed by the local county government as director of its civil defense office and its emergency medical service?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that currently you are a member of the City Council of the City of St. Cloud and that you are employed by Osceola County as Director of the Civil Defense Office and the Osceola Emergency Medical Service. In subsequent correspondence and in a telephone conversation with our staff, you advised that as Civil Defense Director you are responsible for administering a coordinated educational and promotional program for civil defense and national disaster preparedness in the County and for organizing emergency plans for various stages of the program. You advised that there is no relationship between the County's civil defense program and the City.
You further advised that as Emergency Medical Service Director, you are responsible for coordinating ambulance operation between the County and the cities of St. Cloud and Kissimmee as directed by the County Commission pursuant to an interlocal agreement between the Cities and the County. You are responsible for seeing that emergency medical service equipment and ambulances are maintained in good condition, and for supervising County employees to maintain the billing and accounts of the ambulance service as directed by the County Commission. Under the interlocal agreement, the County has granted to the Cities a contract to operate the ambulance service for the County, using City employees. The County is responsible for paying the expenses of the ambulance 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), Florida Statutes (1981).]
This provision prohibits a City Council member from being employed by an agency which is regulated by or doing business with that City. See CEO 76-203, in which we advised that no prohibited conflict of interest existed where a city commissioner was employed as a buyer for the county in which his city was located.
It is clear that the City does not regulate the County. Nor do we find that the City is doing business with the County by virtue of the interlocal agreement between them. In previous opinions, we have advised that contracts between governmental agencies for the provision of services are not contemplated by this statutory language. See CEO 76-2, Question 9, CEO 80-5, and CEO 81-5.
Finally, after review of the terms of the interlocal agreement, we do not perceive that your employment with the County creates a continuing or frequently recurring conflict of interest with your duties as a City Council member or impedes the full and faithful discharge of those duties. Although the agreement specifies that the Emergency Medical Service Director has certain responsibilities, it does not appear that those responsibilities conflict with the interests of the City.
However, we are of the view that if you vote as Council member to renew the interlocal agreement or to establish a new agreement, you would be presented with a voting conflict of interest within the terms of Section 112.3143, Florida Statutes. That section provides:
No public officer shall be prohibited from voting in his official capacity on any matter. However, any public officer voting in his official capacity upon any measure in which he has a personal, private, or professional interest and which inures to his special private gain or the special gain of any principal by whom he is retained shall, within 15 days after the vote occurs, disclose the nature of his interest as a public record in a memorandum filed with the person responsible for recording the minutes of the meeting, who shall incorporate the memorandum in the minutes. [Section 112.3143, Florida Statutes (1981).]
As the City's decision to enter into or renew the interlocal agreement would affect directly your position with the County, we are of the opinion that if you vote on that decision as a Council member you should file a Memorandum of Voting Conflict (CE Form 4) in accordance with this provision. As an alternative, you may abstain from voting on the interlocal agreement as provided in Section 286.012, Florida Statutes.
Accordingly, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest exists where you serve as a member of the St. Cloud City Council and as Director of the Osceola County Civil Defense Office and the Osceola County Emergency Medical Service.