‘Sunshine 2.0’ financial reporting requirements OK’d by Governor

New law requires additional budget reports from cities, counties.

A bill dubbed “Sunshine 2.0” by its sponsor will now increase financial transparency requirements for Florida municipalities.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law legislation (HB 861) that requires financial reporting through the Office of Economic & Demographic Research.

The Florida League of Cities had the legislation on its own watch list. The new law now requires city and county budget officers to annually submit certain information regarding the final budget each year.

The bills also clarify the time frames required cities and counties required to post certain budget information on their website, according to the League.

State Rep. Spencer Roach, a North Fort Myers Republican, said he worked with municipal officials to make sure the office requires comparable information to be shared with the EDR.

He’s conscious economic development officials will likely pull numbers from new reports to draw comparisons in business climates between communities.

“We wanted to make sure if this was being used for comparison, it was apples to apples,” Roach said.

Information that must be published in reports includes government spending and debt per resident, median incomes in cities and counties, average government employee salaries, percent of budgets spent on benefits and number of special tax districts within a jurisdiction.

To make sure information can be fairly scrutinized between cities with many part-time residents and retirees, certain reporting equalizers will be reported to the EDR, Roach said.

Foe example, the spending and debt per capita reports will show similar information over the past five fiscal years to give a fair picture over time, which should account for seasonal residents.

Ultimately, a more complete and clear presentation of information will come from each government jurisdiction in Florida. That’s part of why Roach called the bill “Sunshine 2.0,” for expanding the transparency of existing reporting systems.

Now that the bill has been signed into law, administration at the EDR must develop forms by July 15 that can be used for submittal of budget data.

 

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]



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