RSA properties not under state oversight, AG opinion concludes

RSA properties not under state oversight, AG opinion concludes

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - An opinion by Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall is affirming that properties owned by the Retirement Systems of Alabama, including hotels, golf courses, and other properties, do not fall under the oversight of the Alabama Department of Finance.

Finance Director Clinton Carter requested an opinion from the AG's office on whether the RSA properties fell under Construction Management, a division of the Finance Department, which oversees minimum building standards code and the energy conservation building code.

The opinion denied the RSA fell under Carter's management, stating oversight is limited to buildings constructed with state funds. The opinion also distinguishes the difference between state funds and funds held in trust.

"All of the assets, proceeds or income [of RSA]…shall be held…in trust for the exclusive purpose of providing for such benefits, refunds and administrative expenses under the management of the boards of control of [RSA]; and, none of such assets, proceeds, income, contributions or payments shall be used, loaded, encumbered or diverted to or for any other purpose whatsoever," the opinion stated, in quoting the Alabama Constitution.

The document also clarified the RSA's assets are not subject to an administrative fee.

"Likewise, compliance with the state building and energy conservation codes may require significant cost on the part of RSA, the expenditure of any funds for which is a decision for the RSA," the AG's office stated in the opinion.

Leura Canary, General Counsel for the RSA, applauded AG Marshall's opinion, citing the settlement of 'inconsistent interpretations' regarding state oversight of RSA properties.

"The opinion is consistent with the Alabama Constitution, Alabama Supreme Court decisions, and previous attorney general's opinions, all of which protect RSA members' money," Canary wrote in a statement to WSFA 12 News. "RSA appreciates the careful and thoughtful analysis of Attorney General Steve Marshall and his staff in interpreting the law."

Canary reiterated the RSA's compliance with all laws regarding building codes.

"Of course, RSA will continue to comply with all applicable local building codes and life/safety rules in its construction projects," Canary affirmed.

WSFA 12 News reached out the Department of Finance for a statement regarding this opinion but has not yet received a response.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The RSA is the primary lend to Raycom Media, the parent company of WSFA 12 News.

The AG's full opinion reads:

The RSA's full statement reads:

"Attorney General Steve Marshall has issued an opinion to Dr. David Bronner and State Finance Director Clinton Carter which settled their inconsistent interpretations of the applicability of the state Building Commission's regulations.  The opinion ruled that RSA's investment properties – its hotels and office buildings – are not subject to certain building and energy code regulations imposed on buildings constructed with state funds.  The Attorney General correctly recognized that the funds held in trust for RSA members belong to RSA members and are not state funds. Therefore, the construction of its investment properties does not involve state funds and is not subject to the Building Commission's regulations. Of course, RSA will continue to comply with all applicable local building codes and life/safety rules in its construction projects. The opinion is consistent with the Alabama Constitution, Alabama Supreme Court decisions and previous Attorney General's opinions, all of which protect RSA members' money. RSA appreciates the careful and thoughtful analysis of Attorney General Steve Marshall and his staff in interpreting the law."

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