Longboat Key District 5 Commissioner Debbie Murphy submitted her letter of resignation on Nov. 20 to Mayor Ken Schneier and Town Manager Howard Tipton.
The reason behind her resignation, she said, was her unwillingness to submit a new financial disclosure form required of all local elected officials by the state. The form will make the net worth of local elected officials public.
The Florida State Legislature approved Senate Bill 774: Ethics Requirements for Public Officials in May 2023.
Murphy said while it saddens her to leave her position that she enjoys, she feels as though the detail asked by the form is “intrusive.”
“Most people's net worth is a personal matter,” Murphy said. “But in my case, it's a very, very sensitive matter.”
She comes from a small family-owned business background. When the business was sold, it caused controversy and family turmoil, according to Murphy.
After that, Murphy said she and her husband decided to keep their personal net worth private.
“The other bigger reason is I just think it's very, very wrong for the Florida Legislature — especially for a small city municipality, where the commissioners are paid zero compensation — to ask us to disclose something that's highly personal,” Murphy said. “And I don't think really has any, whatsoever merit to me being able to do my job.”
She said that the oath that commissioners take before all public proceedings to disclose any conflicts of interest should be enough.
Murphy also said she felt the level of detail required by the financial disclosure form was potentially unwise from a personal security standpoint.
In her resignation letter, Murphy said while the required financial disclosure due date pushes her to leave her position on or before Dec. 31, she is open to continuing as commissioner until an appointment is made.
Murphy was elected in March 2023 and was serving a term until March 2026.
The last time a similar situation occurred in Longboat Key was for the District 5 seat in 2021 when Maureen Merrigan was appointed to fill Ed Zunz’s spot. Zunz resigned from his position early because he moved out of his district.
Tipton said in an email to commissioners that next steps for discussion and direction for filling Murphy’s spot will begin at the town’s Dec. 4 meeting.