Bills propose accountability for “economic development” and tourism agencies

Florida legislation (HB 3) seeks to provide transparency and accountability provisions for publicly funded “economic development” agencies and tourism promotion agencies.  The legislation also provides for penalties and requires county governing board(s) to review certain proposed contracts and certifications. Representatives Ben Albritton (R) and Randy Fine (R) are cosponsoring the bill. A similar bill SB 1714 has been filed in the Florida Senate by Sen. Keith Perry (R).

Under the proposed bill, economic development and tourism agencies would have to submit all contracts estimated for at least $250,000 to county boards for approval at least 14 days before the contracts’ execution. The counties must also publish the proposed contracts online.

It would also necessitate organizations file a report with counties (to be published online) within 30 days after a fiscal year’s end that details the public and private funds received and spent by the agencies. The reports would include total amount of revenue received from public and private sources, operating budgets, the total amount of salary, benefits, and other compensation provided by the economic development agency to its officers, employees, or agents, regardless of the funding source. An itemized account of all expenditures, including all travel and entertainment expenditures.

The bill also places additional requirement for items the economic development agencies must post on their websites, for example:

  • All contracts with a total contract value of $5,000 or more (posted within 5 days of execution).
  • All contracts, information, and financial data submitted to the governing board of the county. Such contracts, information, and data must be posted within 5 business days after submission.
  • Video recordings of each board meeting. Such recordings must be posted within 3 business days after the meeting.
  • A detailed report of expenditures following each marketing event paid for with economic development agency funds. Such report must be posted within 10 business days after the event.
  • An annual itemized account of the total amount of funds spent by a third party on behalf of the economic development agency, its board members, or its employees.
  • An annual itemized account of the total amount of travel and entertainment expenditures.

The bill details additional requirements and penalties… read HB 3).

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