CEO 88-72 -- October 19, 1988
APPLICABILITY OF DISCLOSURE LAW TO MEMBERS OF
CITY-COUNTY PLANNING COMMISSION TECHNICAL
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
The members of the Tallahassee-Leon County Planning Commission Technical Coordinating Committee are "local officers" subject to the requirement of filing statements of financial interests under Section 112.3145, Florida Statutes, because of the Committee's role in land planning and zoning decisions under the interlocal agreement which established the Planning Commission. However, persons who attend meetings of the Technical Coordinating Committee as representatives of various City and County departments or as representatives of other agencies or organizations are not members of the Committee and, therefore, are not "local officers" required to file statements of financial interests.
Are the members of the Tallahassee-Leon County Planning Commission Technical Coordinating Committee "local officers" subject to the requirement of filing statements of financial interests annually?
Your question is answered in the affirmative with respect to those positions designated in the interlocal agreement creating the Planning Commission as members of the Technical Coordinating Committee.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees requires that each "officer" annually file a statement of financial interests. Section 112.3145(2)(b), Florida Statutes. For purposes of this disclosure, the term "local officer" is defined to include:
Any appointed member of a board, commission, authority, including any expressway authority or transportation authority established by general law; 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. [Section 112.3145(1)(a)2, Florida Statutes (1987).]
The term "advisory body" is defined in Section 112.312(1), Florida Statutes, 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.
Therefore, an appointed member of an "advisory body," as defined above, is not required to file a statement of financial interests annually unless that body has land-planning, zoning, or natural resources responsibilities.
We have been advised by the City Attorney that the Tallahassee- Leon County Planning Commission has been created by a 1967 interlocal agreement between the City and the County. Part of that agreement also creates a Technical Coordinating Committee for the Planning Commission, as follows:
There is established a Technical Coordinating Committee consisting of the City Planner, the County Planning and Zoning Director, the City Engineer, the County Engineer. The Technical Coordinating Committee shall prepare a work program and advise local and consulting staffs in the preparation of all technical studies. The Technical Coordinating Committee shall prepare such other studies and recommendations that are assigned to it by the Planning Commission. The Technical Coordinating Committee members shall be ex-officio members of the Planning Commission and shall attend all meetings of the Commission, having the right to participate in the discussion but without having a vote.
According to the City Attorney, however, only three of the four designated positions still exist, the City Engineer, the County Engineer, and a joint City/County Planning Director. In addition, the Committee does not operate as envisioned under the agreement. Rather, when the Committee meets a number of representatives of City and County departments, as well as representatives of other agencies and organizations, are notified of the meeting and attend. The representatives to the Committee change regularly, and the designation of the representatives is made by the various departments.
The Committee does not issue or approve the issuance of development permits. The Committee meets as an informal group and makes comments on proposed developments, both in the zoning process when reviewing rezoning requests and in the subdivision platting process. The group does not take votes but rather accepts comments which are made from the particular regulatory perspective of individual representatives. For example, the Traffic Engineering Department representative would make comments on a rezoning as to its impact on traffic, and the Water and Sewer Department representative would comment on the availability of utilities.
We previously have advised that technical advisory committees to local planning agencies are subject to the requirement of filing statements of financial interests under Section 112.3145, Florida Statutes, because of their role in land-planning and zoning decisions. See, for example, CEO 77-47 and CEO 78-80. However, we also advised in CEO 84-46 that members of a city development review committee consisting of city employees designated by their departments to attend meetings to review development proposals were not "local officers" subject to the financial disclosure law. There, we found that the committee had no authority independent of, greater than, or different from the authority possessed by each of the departments. We also found in CEO 80-85 that alternate directors who simply were temporary substitutes for directors appointed to a board were not subject to the financial disclosure law.
Applying these opinions to the Technical Coordinating Committee, we find that the persons who attend meetings of the Committee as representatives of City and County departments, or as representatives of other agencies or organizations, are not members of the Committee in fact and therefore are not "local officers." On the other hand, we find that the three persons who currently hold positions that were designated in the interlocal agreement as constituting the Technical Coordinating Committee are "local officers," because of the role in land-planning and zoning matters prescribed for the Committee under the interlocal agreement.
Your question in answered accordingly.