Item No: 5E.
Meeting Date: August 26, 2013
From: Robert Sargent, Public Information Officer
Subject: Ordinance authorizing electronic signatures and
notarizations on certain documents submitted to the city.
Staff recommends approval of the ordinance authorizing electronic signatures and notarizations on certain documents submitted to the city.
For decades, the City of Leesburg has required formal signatures and notarizations on paper documents submitted for various municipal proposals and applications. The applicants often are required to sign and notarize multiple copies – all that need to be mailed or delivered in person to City offices.
The City is now capable of managing this work on computers, allowing documents to be submitted electronically via e-mail or digital media. This modernization provides tremendous convenience to applicants and saves considerable cost of printing and delivering documents to the City.
Leesburg also benefits by saving the cost of copying countless printed documents and later storing them in a warehouse to meet State of Florida public records retention requirements. Electronic documents are easier for City staff to work with and provide for faster and more efficient review of applications and documents that can be stored more securely and conveniently on computer media storage.
While Leesburg currently manages many documents electronically, the City still requires printed paper versions to accommodate written signatures and notarizations from applicants. This ordinance allows for acceptance of digital signatures and notarizations on electronic documents commonly used by many governments today. The ordinance establishes submission requirements for electronic documents and methods to ensure applicants’ authenticity.
Accepted electronic documents include:
1. Applications for rezoning, conditional use permit, variance, planned unit development and other changes in the permitted use of a parcel of real property.
2. Applications for site plan approval.
3. Applications for building permit or other permit related to the improvement of real property.
4. Applications, preliminary plats, and other documents pertaining to the subdivision of a parcel of real property.
5. Documents such as but not limited to boundary surveys, affidavits, engineering drawings, and sketches of legal descriptions.
6. Responses to any solicitation to bid, request for proposal, or other invitation issued by the Purchasing Division to obtain bids or solicitations for goods or services to be provided to the City.
Approval of the proposed ordinance will improve staff efficiency and save office material costs associated with the review of applications and other documents.
Prepared by: ______________________
Attachments: Yes____ No ______
Advertised: ____Not Required ______
Attorney Review : Yes___ No ____
Reviewed by: Dept. Head ________
Finance Dept. __________________
Deputy C.M. ___________________
City Manager ___________________
Account No. _________________
Project No. ___________________
WF No. ______________________
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF LEESBURG, FLORIDA, PROVIDING FOR ACCEPTANCE OF ELECTRONIC SIGNATURES AND ELECTRONIC NOTARIZATION ON CERTAIN DOCUMENTS SUBMITTED TO THE CITY, PROVIDING DEFINITIONS, SPECIFYING THE ACCEPTABLE MANNER OF AFFIXING ELECTRONIC SIGNATURES AND NOTARIZATION TO DOCUMENTS, SPECIFYING THE SECURITY PROVISIONS REQUIRED FOR SUBMITTAL OF ELECTRONIC DOCUMENTS TO ASSURE THE IDENTITY OF THE PERSONS AFFIXING SIGNATURES THERETO, AUTHORIZING THE CITY MANAGER TO MODIFY OR EXPAND THE LIST OF DOCUMENTS WHICH MAY BE SUBMITTED TO THE CITY WITH ELECTRONIC SIGNATURES AND TO MODIFY THE LIST OF “CERTIFICATE AUTHORITIES” WHICH MAY PROVIDE CERTIFICATES VERIFYING THE IDENTITY OF PERSONS SIGNING ELECTRONIC DOCUMENTS; PROVIDING FOR SEVERABILITY; REPEALING CONFLICTING ORDINANCES; AND PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE.
WHEREAS, it is becoming a common practice for governments at the local, state and federal levels to accept documents filed electronically, and bearing electronic signatures and notarization, and
WHEREAS, §§668.001 through 668.06, Fla. Stat., allow any municipality to specify whether or not it will accept electronically filed and signed documents, and to prescribe the conditions under which it will do so, and
WHEREAS, acceptance of documents filed and signed electronically is beneficial to citizens and businesses interacting with local governments by permitting them to submit documents by electronic mail rather than hand delivery, overnight delivery or mailing, and is environmentally friendly in that it eliminates the need for the presentation of multiple paper copies of documents, and
WHEREAS, the City Commission therefore deems it to be in the best interests of the health, safety, welfare and convenience of the citizens and businesses with which the City of Leesburg interacts, to establish a mechanism for acceptance of certain documents filed electronically and bearing electronic signatures,
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT ENACTED BY THE PEOPLE OF THE CITY OF LEESBURG, FLORIDA:
§2 – 7 of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Leesburg, Florida, is hereby created to read as set forth below:
Sec. 12 – 7. Electronic Signatures.
The City of Leesburg will accept electronic signatures on documents submitted to it electronically, in accordance with the requirements and specifications of this Section.
The following terms, when utilized in this ordinance, shall have the meanings shown below:
1. “Public Key Infrastructure” shall mean a set of hardware, software, people, policies, and procedures needed to create, manage, store, distribute and revoke digital certificates.
2. “Certificate Authority (CA)” shall mean a third party who issues electronic credentials to engage in transactions utilizing an Electronic Digital Signature through the use of a Certificate.
3. “Certificate” shall mean an electronic document, using the Public Key Infrastructure, that uses a digital signature to bind together a public key with an identity that identifies the CA, identifies the subscriber, contains the subscriber’s public key, and is digitally signed by the CA.
4. “Digital Signature” shall mean a type of electronic signature that transforms a message using an asymmetric cryptosystem such that a recipient of the initial message and the signer’s public key can determine accurately whether the initial message or the document has been altered since their creation, and whether they were created using the private key which corresponds to the signer’s public key.
5. “Electronic Seal” is a unique digital signature used on conjunction with the requirements of the Florida Board of Engineers, to permit an engineer to authenticate electronic plans or rendering. Because the electronic seal is password protected, it is accessible only to its designated engineer.
6. “Electronic Notarization” is a unique digital signature used in conjunction with the requirements of §117.021, Fla. Stat., and rules promulgated under the authority of that statute, used by a Notary Public to authenticate an electronic notarial act. Because the Electronic Notarization is password protected, it is accessible only to its designated Notary Public.
7. “Electronic Signature” shall mean any letters, characters, or symbols, manifested by electronic or similar means, executed or adopted by a party, with intent to authenticate a writing. A writing is electronically signed if an electronic signature is logically associated with such writing.
A. Documents Which May Be Submitted Electronically.
The City will accept the following documents submitted electronically, and bearing electronic signatures and notarizations:
1. Applications for rezoning, conditional use permit, variance, planned unit development and other changes in the permitted use of a parcel of real property;
2. Applications for site plan approval.
3. Applications for building permit or other permit related to the improvement of real property.
4. Applications, preliminary plats and other documents pertaining to the subdivision of a parcel of real property.
5. Any documents included within any of the foregoing applications, such as but not limited to boundary surveys, affidavits, engineering drawings, and sketches of legal descriptions.
6. The City may request in its sole discretion additional documentation related to the foregoing, to be submitted, signed or sealed electronically.
7. The City Manager is authorized to specify additional documents which may or must be submitted in electronic format with electronic signature, and the City Clerk shall maintain a list of all documents which are required or authorized to be submitted to the City in such format.
B. Requirements for Submitting Electronic Documents.
1. Any person submitting electronic documents to the City which include a Digital Signature shall apply for and receive electronic credentials from a CA which issues these credentials according to the State of Florida guidelines for use of Public Key Infrastructure.
2. Such persons must also comply with any requirements of their respective professional governing boards pertaining to electronic signatures, electronic seals, or electronic notarization.
3. Such persons must also adhere to all other submittal requirements promulgated by the City Manager for the particular type of document being submitted, provided that the City Manager may not promulgate any such requirement which conflicts with any provision of this ordinance.
4. To facilitate field inspections, anyone submitting building plans to the City electronically must, within no more than 3 business days following electronic submittal, furnish the Community Development Department with not less than three copies of a complete paper set of all plans. No building permit will be issued until these paper plans have been provided.
C. Affixing Digital Signatures and Electronic Notarization to Documents.
1. Anyone affixing a Digital Signature or Electronic Notarization to a document submitted to the City must affix his or her Digital Signature so that it is visible on the document itself (along with an Electronic Seal on those documents on which a seal is required).
2. When the document is submitted to the City the submitter shall provide contemporaneously his or her Certificate so that the City may verify that the document was signed and submitted by the person purporting to do so.
3. City staff shall, upon receipt of a document submitted with a Digital Signature, Electronic Seal or Electronic Notarization, verify that the Digital Signature, Electronic Seal or Electronic Notarization is valid and unaltered, by accessing the Certificate by way of the Certificate icon on the signature, seal or notarization.
4. City staff shall also verify that any additional requirements for the Digital Signature, Electronic Notarization, or Electronic Seal, as prescribed by the governing board of the profession of the person submitting either, are present, such as the P.E. number of an engineer or the commission expiration date of the Notary Public.
D. City Manager to Specify Acceptable Certificate Authorities.
The City Manager shall specify by written list, to be maintained in the office of the City Clerk, those Certificate Authorities who are acceptable to the City for the purpose of issuing Certificates to persons submitting Digital Signatures, Electronic Seals and Electronic Notarizations to the City. The City Manager may add to or subtract from that list at any time, provided however that the City Manager shall not violate or exceed any term of this ordinance in so doing.
E. Retention of Documents Submitted Electronically.
The City may retain in electronic form, without printing and retaining paper copies, any document submitted to it electronically and bearing a Digital Signature, Electronic Seal, or Electronic Notarization. These electronic records shall be considered and treated in the same manner as any other records of the City, and unless exempted under Florida Statutes, shall be considered public records.
F. Effect of Digital Signature.
Except to the extent provided by law, and when submitted in compliance with applicable law and the provisions of this Ordinance: (i) any Digital Signature shall have the same force and effect as a manual signature; (ii) any Electronic Seal shall have the same force and effect as a raised or rubber stamped seal on a document; and (iii) any Electronic Notarization shall have the same force and effect as the manual signature and affixed, raised or rubber stamp seal of a Notary Public.
G. Special Provisions for Bid Responses.
For responses to any solicitation to bid, request for proposal, or other invitation issued by the Purchasing Division to obtain bids or solicitations for goods or services to be provided to the City, clicking the “Submit Response” or similar button or process attached to or logically associated with the response within the City’s online bid management system shall constitute an electronic siguature for purposes of that response as to any form or section calling for a signature, and shall constitute an affirmative agreement to any statement contained in the solicitation that requires a definite confirmation or acknowledgement. The Purchasing Department may also accept original signatures transmitted and received via facsimile or other electronic transmission of a document (e.g. PDF or similar format) as true and valid signatures for all purposes related to the response. Any such facsimile or electronic signature shall constitute the final agreement of the party submitting the response and conclusive proof of such agreement. Documents and signatures so submitted must be of sufficient quality to be legible either electronically or when printed as a hard copy.
All ordinances or part of ordinances which are in conflict with this Ordinance are hereby repealed, only to the extent necessary to alleviate the conflict, but shall continue in effect insofar as they are not in conflict herewith, unless repeal of the conflicting portion destroys the overall intent and effect of any of the conflicting ordinance, in which case those ordinances so affected shall be hereby repealed in their entirety.
If any portion of this Ordinance is declared invalid or unenforceable, then to the extent it is possible to do so without destroying the overall intent and effect of this Ordinance, the portion deemed invalid or unenforceable shall be severed herefrom and the remainder of the ordinance shall continue in full force and effect as if it were enacted without including the portion found to be invalid or unenforceable.
This Ordinance shall become effective upon its passage and adoption according to law.
PASSED AND ADOPTED at the regular meeting of the City Commission of the City of Leesburg, Florida, held on the day of , 2013.
THE CITY OF LEESBURG, FLORIDA
David Knowles, Mayor
Betty M. Richardson, City Clerk