Legal Report, August 2014

General Counsel, Trela J. White

1. Posting of Budget on Municipality’s Official Website  ***Reminder ***

Section 166.241(3), Florida Statutes, states that a municipality’s tentative budget must be posted on the municipality’s official website at least 2 days before its budget hearings.  The final adopted budget must be posted on the municipality’s official website within 30 days after adoption.  If the municipality does not operate an official website, then the municipality must, within a reasonable period of time, transmit the tentative budget and final budget to the county administrator who shall post the budgets on the county’s website.

2.  Chapter 2014-189 – Florida Information Protection Act of 2014, Codified at 501.171, F.S.
Such legislation specifically repealed Section 817.5681, F.S. and moved parts of the repealed Section to cp. 501, F.S.  This new law provides for an expanded version of the requirements found in Section 817.5681, F.S. and attempts to protect personal information stored in electronic data bases of “Covered Entities”.  Governmental entities are included in that definition.  In essence, the new Section of the State Law was effective July 1, 2014 and required all Covered Entities as defined in the Statutes to report any “breach of security” affecting “Personal Information” of five hundred (500) or more Florida residents.  Reporting must be made to the State Department of Legal Affairs within thirty (30) days of the discovery of a breach or the belief that a breach has occurred.  Covered Entities must also notify individuals whose personal information has been or is reasonably believed to have been accessed as a result of the breach.  Notice to individuals must be made as expeditiously as possible, but no later than thirty (30) days after the breach or suspected breach.  This “notice to individuals” reporting requirement may be waived if the applicable federal, state or local law enforcement agency believes it would interfere with a criminal investigation, or if, after an appropriate investigation, the Covered Entity reasonably believes that the breach has not and will not likely result in identity theft or other financial harm to the individuals.  Violations of this law are treated as unfair and deceptive trade practices and penalties may be assessed up to five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000.00).  A more detailed analysis is on the League’s website.

3.  SB 864-Ethics and Sunshine Law Training Requirement
Beginning January 1, 2015, elected municipal officers must obtain four hours of ethics and sunshine law training on an annual basis (this is a current requirement for state- and county-level elected officials). For all elected officials subject to the training requirement, if the elected official assumes office or a new term of office on or before March 31, the official must fulfill the training requirement before the following December 31. Those assuming office after March 31 are not required to complete the training for the calendar year in which the term of office began.
Beginning January 1, 2015, elected officials required to participate in annual ethics and sunshine law training must certify their participation on their full and public disclosure of financial interest forms. Failure to certify completion of the annual ethics and sunshine law training on a disclosure form does not constitute an immaterial, inconsequential, or deminimus error or omission.


4. Town of Gulf Stream et al vs. Palm Beach County, and Sharon R. Bock, as Clerk and Comptroller of Palm Beach County, Intervenor
Case No. 502011CA017953XXXXMB.  Inspector General Funding Lawsuit.
Fourteen municipalities sued Palm Beach County challenging the method of funding for the Inspector General Program (the “OIG Program”).  The current funding method authorizes the Board of County Commissioners to set an amount the municipalities must pay for the OIG Program and to bill municipalities for that amount.  The municipalities contend that the current funding method is an unlawful tax and invades municipal home rule budgetary authority.  On March 19, 2014, the Trial Court issued an order setting the case for trial during the trial docket commencing on August 4, 2014, and ending on August 29, 2014.  A four day non-jury trial regarding this matter commenced Tuesday, August 19, 2014.  Judge Brunson has indicated she would reserve ruling at the end of the trial and issue and order within several weeks.