CEO 03-5 -- April 30, 2003



To:      Jacqueline M. Kovilaritch, Assistant City Attorney (St. Petersburg)


The members of health facilities authority created pursuant to Chapter 154, Part III, Florida Statutes, are not “local officers” subject to the requirement of filing the annual statement of financial interests, as the authority is not a “political subdivision of the state” but, instead, is an agency of the city which created it.


Are the members of a health facilities authority required to file a statement of financial interests pursuant to Section 112.3145, Florida Statutes?

Your question is answered negative.

In your letter of inquiry, you represent that this opinion is sought on behalf of the St. Petersburg Health Facilities Authority, an agency created by resolution of the St. Petersburg City Council pursuant to Chapter 154, Part III, Florida Statutes.  You raise the question of whether members of the authority are considered to be “local officers” for purposes of filing financial disclosure.

Section 112.3145(1)(a)2., Florida Statutes, defines “local officer” to mean:

2.   Any appointed member of any of the following boards, councils, commissions, authorities, or other bodies of any county, municipality, school district, independent special district, or other political subdivision of the state:

a.      The governing body of the political subdivision, if appointed;

*                      *                      *

g. Any other appointed member of a local government board who is required to file a statement of financial interests by the appointing authority or the enabling legislation, ordinance, or resolution creating the board.

The issue, then, is whether a health facilities authority is a “political subdivision of the state” for purposes of Section 112.3145.  In CEO 83-9, we were asked to determine whether the members of the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority were subject to the requirement of filing financial disclosure.  After concluding that they were not “state officers,” since the Authority did not have state-wide jurisdiction, we opined that they were not “local officers” either.  In reaching that conclusion, we first examined the definition of “political subdivision” in Section 1.01(8), Florida Statutes, which provides:

The words 'public body,' 'body politic,' or 'political subdivision' include counties, cities, towns, villages, special tax school districts, special road and bridge districts, and all other districts in this state.

We observed that no provision in Chapter 348 spoke of the expressway authority in terms of comprising a district or any of the other entities named in that definition and, in contrast, we noted the following definition of "political subdivision" provided in the Emergency Interim Executive and Judicial Succession Act:

'Political subdivision' includes counties, cities, towns, villages, townships, districts, authorities, and other public corporations and entities whether organized and existing under charter or general law. [Section 22.03(5), Florida Statutes.]We ultimately concluded in CEO 83-9 that, while we doubted that the Legislature intended to exclude expressway authorities from financial disclosure given their powers, including the power of eminent domain, we were required to interpret Section 112.3145 according to the precise language adopted by the Legislature. Florida Gulf Health Systems Agency, Inc. v. Commission on Ethics, 354 So.2d 932 (Fla. 2d DCA 1978).  Section 112.3145(1)(a), Florida Statutes, was later amended to require expressway authority members to file financial disclosure.  See Chapter 83-128, L.O.F.

In the case of health facilities authorities, we note that Section 154.205(2), Florida Statutes, defines “authority” or “health facilities authority” to mean any of the public corporations created by s. 154.207 or any board, body, commission, or department of a county or municipality succeeding to the principal functions thereof or to whom the powers conferred upon each authority by this part shall be given by law.

Section 154.207, which allows for the creation of health facilities authorities, provides in pertinent part:

In each local agency there may be created a public body corporation and politic to be known as the '_________ Health Facilities Authority.'  Each of said authorities shall be constituted as a public instrumentality, and the exercise by an authority of the powers conferred by this part shall be deemed and held to be the performance of an essential public function. . . .  .

As in CEO 83-9, we must acknowledge that nothing in Chapter 154, Part III, suggests that health facilities authorities are a district or any other entity named in Section 1.01(8), Florida Statutes.  Even so, in its letter requesting an opinion, the City points out that health facilities authorities meet the definition of “dependent” special districts pursuant to the definition in Section 189.403(2), Florida Statutes.  In our view, this buttresses our conclusion that they are not “local officers” since Section 112.3145(1)(a)2 only lists “independent” special districts and not “dependent” special districts.  Although we hesitate to speculate why Section 112.3145(1)(a)2 lists one type of special district and not the other, we note that “dependent” special districts are, by definition, generally more accountable to the entity which created them than are “independent” special districts, since members of dependent special districts are typically appointed by the governing body of a single county or municipality and their budget is subject to its oversight.

Finally, we note that in AGO 84-90, the Attorney General opined that a county health facilities authority created pursuant to Chapter 154, Part III, Florida Statutes, was for the purposes of s 5(a), Art. II, State Const. (dual officeholding prohibition), an agency or instrumentality of the county and the members of the authority held an office under the government of the county.  In AGO 2003-12, a contrary conclusion was reached involving a public health trust created pursuant to Chapter 154, Part II, Florida Statues, due to the fact that the two entities have substantially different powers and duties.

Inasmuch as health facilities authorities exercise considerable powers, as provided in Section 154.209, F.S., the appointing authority may wish to consider whether to impose the “local option” provided for in Section 112.3145(1)(a)2.g., Florida Statutes, and require them to file an annual statement of financial interests.

Accordingly, we find that health facilities authorities are not “political subdivisions of the state” for purposes of Section 112.3145, and its members are not “local officers” subject to financial disclosure.

ORDERED by the State of Florida Commission on Ethics meeting in public session on April 24, 2003 and RENDERED this 25th day of April, 2003.

Patrick Neal