If Sarasota City Auditor and Clerk Pamela Nadalini’s Office forces the St. Armands Circle Business Improvement District and Downtown Development District to fill out financial disclosure affidavits, a slew of volunteers from both boards plan on tendering their resignations.
St. Armands Circle Business Improvement District Vice Chairman Marty Rappaport is so annoyed with the request, he’s already tendered his resignation. The resignation, though, will only occur if City Attorney Robert Fournier’s Office and state officials rule the affidavits are necessary. Other BID members are also contemplating resigning.
At the BID’s monthly meeting Tuesday at Sarasota City Hall, Downtown Improvement District Vice Chairman Mark Kauffman attended the meeting as a citizen to talk about the issue.
DID members all expressed a willingness to resign at their meeting Tuesday if the disclosure statements are mandated and their finances become public documents at City Hall.
The forms ask applicants to fill out information about mortgages, bank accounts and income from partnerships among other disclosures.
“A lot of personal information Mark felt, and I agree with him, is asked for and as a volunteer I’m not willing to submit myself to that disclosure,” Rappaport said. “If it’s required, the city can accept the resignation I tendered today.”
The clerk’s office, according to Fournier, recently sent out a blanket email to every board in the city, requiring them to fill out financial disclosure forms.
“I started getting calls and subsequently sent out an email explaining I would look into it (so that) all these citizens (on these boards) didn’t have to fill it out,” Fournier said.
The statute requires local officers, boards with land use/planning responsibilities and governing bodies, which Fournier said could be interpreted to include governing bodies of taxing districts like the BID and DID, to fill out the disclosures.
Fournier said he sent out another email noting the boards that he knows were not subject to the state statute that requires filling out the disclosures. The BID and DID, though, weren’t on that list.
Fournier said the ordinance formulated to create the BID states the BID is subject to Chapter 112 Florida statutes, but the ordinance that created the DID doesn’t include such language.
“I told the BID members we’ll endeavor to contact Tallahassee, and they'll (the Florida Commission on Ethics) be in a position to tell us what's required,” Fournier said.
Fournier said he anticipates the ethics commission will ask for copies of the ordinances.
“They may say it doesn't apply,” Fournier said. “That's only speculation on my part. We're just going to have to check.”
City Editor David Conway contributed to this report.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at firstname.lastname@example.org.