(1) There is hereby created and established a body politic and corporate, an agency of the state, encompassing Collier and Lee Counties, to be known as the Southwest Florida Expressway Authority, hereinafter referred to as the “authority.”
(2) The governing body of the authority shall consist of seven voting members and one nonvoting member, as set forth in this subsection.
(a)1.a. One member who is a permanent resident of Collier County and one member who is a permanent resident of Lee County shall be appointed by the Governor to serve a term of 4 years each. The Governor shall select his or her appointees from a list submitted by the board of county commissioners of each county, with each list recommending five candidates from their respective county.
b. One member who is a permanent resident of Collier County shall be appointed by the Board of County Commissioners of Collier County and one member who is a permanent resident of Lee County shall be appointed by the Board of County Commissioners of Lee County to serve a term of 4 years each.
2. Each member appointed under this paragraph shall be a person of outstanding reputation for integrity, responsibility, and business ability and shall have an interest in ground transportation. No elected official and no person who is an employee, in any capacity, of Collier County or Lee County or of any city within Collier County or Lee County shall be an appointed member of the authority except as set forth in this section.
3. Each appointed member shall be a resident of his or her respective county during his or her entire term.
4. Each appointed member shall be a voting member and shall hold office until his or her successor has been appointed and has qualified. A vacancy occurring during a term shall be filled only for the remainder of the unexpired term.
(b) One member from Collier County and one member from Lee County shall be selected by the members of the respective county commission from among its members to serve as a voting member for a term of 2 years each. Each commissioner must be a member of the county commission when selected and for the full extent of the term of this selection.
(c) The executive director of the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council shall serve as the seventh voting member.
(d) The district secretary of the Department of Transportation serving in the district that contains Collier County and Lee County shall serve as a nonvoting member.
(e) Any member of the authority shall be eligible for reappointment.
(3)(a) The authority shall elect one of its members as chair of the authority. The authority shall also elect a secretary and a treasurer who may or may not be members of the authority. The chair, secretary, and treasurer shall hold such offices at the will of the authority. Four members of the authority shall constitute a quorum, and a vote of the majority of those present shall be necessary for any action taken by the authority. No vacancy in the authority shall impair the right of a quorum of the authority to exercise all of the rights and perform all of the duties of the authority.
(b) Upon the effective date of his or her appointment, or as soon thereafter as practicable, each appointed member of the authority shall enter upon his or her duties.
(4) If an expansion of the project into Charlotte County is warranted and desirable as indicated by the adoption of resolutions in support of the expansion by the authority and by each Board of County Commissioners of Charlotte, Collier, and Lee Counties, the membership of the authority shall be expanded as set forth in this subsection. The authority shall have nine voting members and two nonvoting members. The executive director of the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council will shift from a voting member to a nonvoting member. Three members from Charlotte County shall be added to the authority, and each shall be a voting member. The Charlotte County members shall be selected in the same manner as provided for the appointment of the members from Collier and Lee Counties.
(5)(a) The authority may employ an executive director, its own counsel and legal staff, technical experts, engineers, and such employees, permanent or temporary, as it may require; may determine the qualifications and fix the compensation of such persons, firms, or corporations; and may employ a fiscal agent or agents. The authority may delegate to one or more of its agents or employees such of its power as it shall deem necessary to carry out the purposes of this part, subject always to the supervision and control of the authority. Members of the authority may be removed from office by the Governor for misconduct, malfeasance, misfeasance, or nonfeasance in office.
(b) Members of the authority shall be entitled to receive from the authority their travel and other necessary expenses incurred in connection with the business of the authority as provided in s. 112.061, but they shall draw no salaries or other compensation.