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What's the paperwork that led to a commissioner’s resignation?

The new financial disclosure form for elected officials requires disclosure of assets, liabilities, net worth and sources of income.

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A new financial disclosure requirement for local elected officials led to the resignation of District 5 Commissioner Debbie Murphy.

But what exactly is the disclosure asking?

Florida Senate Bill 774 was passed in May and is titled “Ethics Requirements for Public Officials.” Simply put, the bill outlines required annual ethics training for elected officials and specifies that elected officials must submit an annual financial report.

According to the Florida League of Cities, SB 774 has been in legislative recommendations since 2015 and various bills since then have contained versions of municipal officials filing Form 6. But, it wasn’t until earlier this year in the 2023 session that SB 774 was passed, requiring mayors and elected officials to file the form.

Previously, elected officials needed to fill out Form 1 for the Florida Commission on Ethics, but SB 774 made it so now they must fill out Form 6. Government officials appointed to boards, councils and commissions are required to fill out Form 1. This includes consolidated retirement board and planning and zoning board members.

Form 1 only required officials to disclose intangible assets over $10,000 individually, but Form 6 requires disclosure of assets over $1,000, as well as household goods and personal effects collectively. A description of the asset and its value is also required.

One of the other major differences is that Form 6 requires officials to disclose their net worth, whereas Form 1 did not.

Net worth is calculated by subtracting the total of all liabilities from the total of all assets. In this case, assets would include intangible, tangible and real property assets over $1,000 individually.

Some of the most common assets, according to the Florida League of Cities, are bank accounts, property and stocks.

Liabilities over $1,000 also need to be disclosed in Form 6, with the exception of credit cards, indebtedness on a life insurance policy, taxes owed not reduced to a judgment and contingent liabilities.

Common liabilities may include car payments, mortgages and student loans.

Form 6 also requires that officials disclose public salary and sources of income over $1,000, where Form 1 only required sources of income over $2,500. The source name, address and amount are also required with Form 6.

Under Form 6 if elected officials own more than 5% of a business, then they must also disclose clients and customers if the clients or customers contributed more than 10% of the business’ gross income, and if the elected official earns more than $1,000 income from the business.

Under Form 1 the business income threshold was $5,000.

The form is required to be submitted on July 1 each year, and failure to submit will result in a $25 per day late fee.

Form 1 has over 35,000 filers within Florida, and Form 6 has about 5,000 filers.



Carter Weinhofer

Carter Weinhofer is the Longboat Key news reporter for the Observer. Originally from a small town in Pennsylvania, he moved to St. Petersburg to attend Eckerd College until graduating in 2023. During his entire undergraduate career, he worked at the student newspaper, The Current, holding positions from science reporter to editor-in-chief.

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