CEO 89-8 -- March 2, 1989
APPLICABILITY OF FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE LAW
TO MEMBERS OF COUNTY FAIR HOUSING BOARD
To: Ms. Michele R. Franke, Assistant County Attorney, Palm Beach County (West Palm Beach)
The members of the Palm Beach County Fair Housing Board are "local officers" subject to the requirement of filing statements of financial interests annually under Section 112.3145, Florida Statutes. As the Board has the authority to impose fines and its orders may be appealed to the courts, the Board does not serve a solely advisory function.
Are the members of the Palm Beach County Fair Housing Board "local officers" subject to the requirement of filing statements of financial interests annually?
Your question is answered in the affirmative.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides that each "local officer" shall file a statement of financial interests annually. Section 112.3145(2)(b), Florida Statutes. The term "local officer" is defined to mean:
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).]
In turn, "advisory body" is defined to mean:
'Advisory body' means 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. [Section 112.312(1), Florida Statutes (1987).]
County Ordinance Number 84-13 provides for equal opportunity to housing and places of public accommodation and establishes the Fair Housing Board. The Ordinance creates the position of Fair Housing Coordinator, who is responsible for investigating complaints of discrimination prohibited by the ordinance. The Fair Housing Board is responsible for hearing and adjudicating complaints and is authorized to issue remedial orders which prohibit violations of the Ordinance and which provide affirmative relief from the effects of the violation. Under Section 13 of the Ordinance, the Board accepts or rejects consent agreements, conducts administrative hearings in accordance with Chapter 120, Florida Statutes, and enters orders which may be appealed to the courts. The Board is authorized to impose a fine not exceeding $500 per violation by Section 27 of the Ordinance.
In our view, the Fair Housing Board exercises substantial responsibilities in fulfilling a role of great importance to the community. Its powers, jurisdiction, and authority are not solely advisory, but rather include the final determination or adjudication of personal rights, duties, and obligations. As the Board does not constitute an "advisory body," its members are "local officers" as defined in the financial disclosure law.
Accordingly, we find that the members of the Palm Beach County Fair Housing Board are "local officers" and therefore are subject to the requirement of filing statements of financial interests annually in accordance with Section 112.3145, Florida Statutes.