CEO 76-156 -- September 13, 1976
COUNTY CITIZENS ADVISORY COMMITTEE
APPLICABILITY OF FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE LAW TO MEMBERS
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
Prepared by: Bonnie Johnson
Members of a county citizens advisory committee, established to aid and assist the county planning commission and the board of county commissioners in a continuous planning program, constitute local officers for purposes of financial disclosure. Florida Statute s. 112.3145(1)(a)2.(1975) defines the term "local officer" to include appointed members of all boards other than advisory bodies, but further stipulates that "[a] governmental body with land-planning, zoning, or natural resources responsibilities shall not be considered an advisory body." Reading the above provision in conjunction with s. 112.312(1), defining the term "advisory body," the term "responsibilities" is deemed to be analogous to "duties" rather than to "powers." Accordingly, members of a body with advisory functions in the area of land planning constitute local officers for purposes of the disclosure law.
Are members of a county citizens advisory committee, established to aid and assist the county planning commission and the board of county commissioners in a continuous planning program, local officers subject to the annual filing of statements of financial disclosure?
This question is answered in the affirmative.
You inform us in your letter of inquiry that the ____ County Citizens Advisory Committee ____ was established in 1973 by the board of county commissioners. Later, the ____ County Local Government Comprehensive Planning Act of 1975 was enacted whereby the county was empowered to establish an advisory committee to aid and assist the local land planning agency, the ____ County Planning Commission, as well as the board of county commissioners in carrying out the responsibilities of the continuous program detailed by the planning act. On December 17, 1975, the county authorized the ____ to serve as the advisory committee required by the planning act. Quoting from your letter of inquiry, the duties of the ____ include the following:
The Committee is responsible for reviewing each element of the development plan which does include land-planning, zoning, and use of natural resources (among many other things). The Committee provides viewpoints at the lay level regarding desirable direction as to components of said plan. The Committee has no capacity relative to policy making and no responsibility for making binding decisions. The Committee's function is to provide information and opinion to the Planning Commission in facilitating the formulation of the development plan.
The Code of Ethics requires that each local officer annually file a statement of financial disclosure. Fla. Stat. 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. [Fla. Stat. s. 112.3145(1)(a)2.(1975); emphasis supplied.]
As the responsibilities of the ____ are in the area of land planning, it is not an advisory body for purposes of the Code of Ethics. Accordingly, ____ members are local officers and, therefore, are required annually to file financial disclosure statements.
In reaching the above decision we have taken into consideration your contention that "responsibilities" is an overbroad term. A close reading of the above-cited provision, in conjunction with the definition of "advisory body" contained in s. 112.312(1), however, persuades us that "responsibility" is analogous to "duty" rather than "power" in this context. Were we to interpret "responsibilities" to mean authority to take action, the italicized language above would be redundant in light of "advisory body" being defined, in part, as a body which is solely advisory. Reading s. 112.3145(1)(a)2. together with s. 112.312(1), it is rational to assume that it was the intent of the Legislature to make disclosure mandatory for planning, zoning, or natural resources board members regardless of whether they are advisory or nonadvisory. Accordingly, where the duties of a board are in one or more of these three areas, as in the instant case, members of that board are deemed to be subject to the filing of financial disclosure.