CEO 76-67 -- April 16, 1976
APPLICABILITY OF FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE LAW TO MEMBERS
To: William G. Gemmill, City Attorney, Tamarac
Prepared by: Bonnie Johnson
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides that each local officer annually file a statement of financial interests. Fla. Stat. s. 112.3145(2)(b)(1975). The term "local officer" is defined to include members of all boards other than an advisory body. "Advisory body" is defined in the Code of Ethics to mean a body whose total authorized expenditures constitute less than 1 percent of the budget of each agency it serves or $100,000, whichever is less, and whose powers, jurisdiction, and authority are solely advisory and in no way include the final determination or adjudication of personal or property rights. Fla. Stat. s. 112.312(2)(1975). Accordingly, a city utilities committee, a public information committee, and a salary and wage control board are deemed to be advisory bodies because each of their budgets is less than $3000 and all are solely advisory in nature. Members of these boards therefore are not "local officers" subject to financial disclosure. The municipality's board of adjustment and its unsafe structures board are not deemed to be advisory bodies, however, inasmuch as both are empowered to hear and decide appeals. Neither is a city zoning commission deemed to be advisory pursuant to s. 112.3145(2)(b), which provides that a body "with land-planning, zoning, or natural resources responsibilities shall not be considered an advisory body." Because its duties include the area of "conservation programs," neither is the city beautification committee an advisory body for purposes of the Code of Ethics. Members of these four boards therefore are deemed to be local officers subject to financial disclosure.
1. Are members of the city utilities committee, public information committee, and salary and wage control board "local officers" for purposes of financial disclosure?
2. Are members of the city board of adjustment, beautification committee, unsafe structures board, and zoning commission "local officers" for purposes of disclosure?
Question 1 is answered in the negative.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides that each "local officer" annually file a statement of financial interests. See Florida Statute s. 112.3145(2)(b)(1975). The term "local officer" is defined to include:
[a]ny appointed member of a board, commission, authority, community college district board of trustees, or council of any political subdivision of the state, excluding any member of an advisory body. A governmental body with land-planning, zoning, or natural resources responsibilities shall not be considered an advisory body.
For purposes of the Code of Ethics, an "advisory body" is defined to mean
. . . any board, commission, committee, council, or authority, however selected, whose total budget, appropriations, or authorized expenditures constitute less than 1 percent of the budget of each agency it serves or $100,000, whichever is less, and whose powers, jurisdiction, and authority are solely advisory and do not include the final determination or adjudication of any personal or property rights, duties, or obligations, other than those relating to its internal operations. [Fla. Stat. s. 112.312(2)(1975).]
You informed us by letter March 1, 1976, that none of the three subject boards has a budget in excess of $3000, thus meeting the financial requirement contained in the above-cited definition.
City Resolution No. 75-124 established the utilities committee, stipulating that it "shall be advisory to the [City] Council and shall have no authority to make any decisions binding upon the City . . . , its Boards, Commissions, or Council." The public information committee, as established by Resolution No. 74-82, disseminates information relating to city operations but exercises no regulatory or policymaking functions beyond those related to its internal operations. Ordinance No. 74-23 established the salary and wage control board "to keep in touch with the cost of living and also the standards of the surrounding cities and to report [its] findings and make recommendations to the City Council." Based on the above-cited duties of the three boards in question, we find them to be advisory bodies for purposes of the Code of Ethics and their members accordingly exempt from disclosure requirements of the law.
Question 2 is answered in the affirmative.
The duties of the board of adjustment, as set forth in Ordinance No. 74-34, are to hear and decide appeals on enforcement and special exceptions to any zoning ordinance; to authorize variances from the terms of an ordinance; and to serve as an appellate body for contested zoning decisions made by an administrative official. Resolution No. 75-120 charges the unsafe structures board with the duty to hear and determine appeals from actions and decisions of building officials. Both boards accordingly are deemed to be regulatory in nature, rather than advisory, inasmuch as each has powers and jurisdiction in the final determination of personal and/or property rights. Members of these boards, therefore, are subject to disclosure requirements of the Code of Ethics.
The city zoning commission was created by Ordinance No. 71-33 to replace the previously entitled planning and zoning board. The commission has all the powers and duties of a planning commission as prescribed by part II, Ch. 163, F. S., as well as those duties previously charged to the planning and zoning board by City Ordinance No. 1-64. These responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the adoption of a comprehensive plan for development of the area and the establishment of principles and policies regulating development. Clearly, these duties are of a land planning and zoning nature. Therefore, pursuant to Florida Statute s. 112.3145(2)(b), quoted in question 1 above, the zoning commission is not an advisory body for purposes of the Code of Ethics, and its members accordingly are subject to disclosure requirements of the law.
The city beautification committee is charged with the responsibility to advise the city council and the zoning commission in the areas of overall appearance, beautification projects, landscaping, and conservation programs. As such duties fall within the general area of natural resources considerations, the beautification committee is not an advisory body within the meaning of s. 112.3145(2)(a). Its members therefore are subject to disclosure requirements of the Code of Ethics.