CEO 93-4 -- March 11, 1993
VOTING CONFLICT OF INTEREST
CITY COMMISSIONER VOTING ON RENT INCREASE
FOR CITY-OWNED MOBILE HOME PARK LOCATED NEAR
PROPOSED RECREATIONAL VEHICLE PARK OWNED BY COMMISSIONER
To: Mr. Joseph E. Davis, City Commissioner (Fort Meade)
No voting conflict of interest is created where a city commissioner votes to increase the rent at a city-owned mobile home park located across the street from property owned by the commissioner which he proposes to develop into an r.v. park. Inasmuch as the commissioner's property has not yet been developed for r.v. use, it is remote and speculative to assume that by raising the rent at the city-owned park he would be able to justify charging a higher rent at his r.v. park. Referenced are CEO's 86-44, 85-87, and 85-77.
Are you, a city commissioner, prohibited by Section 112.3143(3), Florida Statutes, from voting on rent increases for a mobile home park owned by the city located near a proposed recreational vehicle park owned by you?
Your question is answered in the negative, under the circumstances presented.
In your letter of inquiry and in subsequent correspondence, you advise that you serve as a member of the Fort Meade City Commission. You also advise that the City owns a 251 lot rental mobile home park and that in September 1991 the Commission voted to institute a series of rent increases for the mobile home park. The rent increases have generated a legal dispute between the City and the park's residents, and you anticipate the possibility of matters coming before the City Commission to resolve the dispute. You also indicate that the City will, from time to time, determine future rental increases and other matters relating to the City park's residents.
You indicate that you own property across the street from the City-owned mobile home park which has been zoned to allow a recreational vehicle park. You relate that your property is fully permitted for construction, but that construction has been delayed due to economic conditions. You indicate that if, in the future, you succeed in building your r.v. park, you may be able to justify charging higher rents if the rent charged at the City-owned park is higher. You question whether a voting conflict of interest is created when you vote on issues involving the City-owned mobile home park.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides in relevant part:
No county, municipal, or other local public officer shall vote in his official capacity upon any measure which would inure to his special private gain; which he knows would inure to the special private gain of any principal by whom he is retained or to the parent organization of subsidiary of a corporate principal by which he is retained, other than an agency as defined in s. 112.312(2); or which he knows would inure to the special private gain of a relative or business associate of the public officer. Such public officer shall, prior to the vote being taken, publicly state to the assembly the nature of his interest in the matter from which he is abstaining from voting and, 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(3)(a), Florida Statutes (1991).]
This provision requires recognized you to abstain from voting in certain situations, including when the measure being voted upon would inure to your special private gain.
We previously have recognized that any gain or loss to a public officer resulting from a particular measure may be too remote or speculative to constitute "special gain." Thus, in CEO 86-44, we advised that a city council member was not prohibited from voting on a site plan for a shopping center located adjacent to the florist store he owned and operated. Similarly, in CEO 85-77, we found that a school board member who owned a retail clothing business near the site of a proposed school district administrative complex was not prohibited from voting on matters relating to the use of the school district's property. See also CEO 85-87.
Here, although you have indicated that you may be able to justify charging higher rent for your proposed r.v. park if the City's mobile home park has higher rent, your park has not yet been built. The earliest it would be ready for use, you advise, would be the fall of 1994. It therefore would be premature as well as speculative to anticipate that your votes to raise rents at the City's mobile home park would inure to your special private gain.
Accordingly, we find that you are not prohibited by Section 112.3143(3), Florida Statutes, from voting on rent increases at the City's 251 lot mobile home park.