CEO 77-174 -- November 10, 1977
LAKELAND DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY
APPLICABILITY OF STATUTORY FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE TO MEMBERS
To: J. H. Roberts, Jr., City Attorney, Lakeland
Prepared by: Phil Claypool
Elected members of a municipal downtown development authority constitute "local officers" pursuant to the definition of that term contained in s. 112.3145(1)(a)1., F. S. They accordingly are subject to the financial disclosure requirements of the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees. Section 112.3145(2)(b), F. S.
Will the members of the Lakeland Downtown Development Authority constitute "local officers" for purposes of financial disclosure?
Your question is answered in the affirmative.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides that each "local officer" shall file financial disclosure annually. Section 112.3145(2)(b), F. S. 1975. The term "local officer" is defined to include:
Every person who is elected to office in any political subdivision of the state, and every person who is appointed to fill a vacancy for an unexpired term in such an elective office. [Section 112.3145(1)(a)1., F. S. 1975.]
"Political subdivision" is defined in s. 1.01(9), F. S. 1975, to include
counties, cities, towns, villages, special tax school districts, special road and bridge districts, bridge districts and all other districts in this state.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that the Lakeland Downtown Development Authority was created by a special act of the Legislature, Ch. 77-588, Laws of Florida. As provided in that act, six of the members of the authority must have their principal places of business or employment in the downtown area or hold property in the area; they are elected for 3-year terms by electors residing within the downtown area, the designated representatives of corporations or other legal entities owning property within the taxing district, and freeholders owning property within the district. The seventh member of the authority is the mayor of the city or a city commissioner designated by the mayor. Section 5, Ch. 77-588. Section 7 of the act specifies the functions of the authority, which include assisting the city in preparing analyses of the downtown area, planning for developing the area, and actively participating in downtown development by acquiring, leasing or operating public facilities. The powers of the authority, as set forth in s. 8, include the power to receive and control the proceeds of ad valorem taxes levied under the chapter and to borrow money and to issue revenue certificates. Under the act, the authority recommends to the freeholders and electors within the area the approval of an ad valorem tax up to 2 mills by referendum, which tax is levied by the county "as a special taxing district levy authorized under Section 9 of Article VII of the State Constitution." Section 9, Ch. 77-588. In addition, s. 5 of the act specifies:
The board is hereby constituted a body corporate and an agency of the city. Performance by the board of its duties and exercise of its powers are hereby designated municipal functions and shall be so construed. [Emphasis supplied.]
Were it not for this last language, we would find the authority to constitute a political subdivision of the state, because of its resemblance to a special taxing district. However, the act seems to intend that the authority be construed as an agency of the city rather than as a separate political subdivision. Nevertheless, under either organizational framework, the members of the authority are elected to office in a political subdivision of the state, whether that subdivision be the city or the authority itself.
Accordingly, we find that the members of the Lakeland Downtown Development Authority are "local officers" for purposes of filing financial disclosure under part III, Ch. 112, F. S.