CEO 89-42 -- September 14, 1989
APPLICABILITY OF FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE LAW TO MEMBERS OF COUNTY ELECTRICAL ADVISORY BOARD
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
The members of the Okaloosa County Electrical Advisory Board are "local officers" subject to the requirement of filing statements of financial interests annually under Section 112.3145, Florida Statutes. Although the Board functions primarily in an advisory capacity, it has the authority to determine whether an applicant for an electrical repair and maintenance certificate is qualified to engage in such work; therefore, the Board does not serve a solely advisory function.
Are the members of the Okaloosa County Electrical Advisory 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).]
Therefore, insofar as it is relevant here, the financial disclosure law applies to all appointed members of local boards unless the board's powers, jurisdiction, and authority both are "solely advisory" and do not include the final determination or adjudication of any personal or property rights, duties, or obligations.
Okaloosa County Ordinance Number 88-27 establishes the electrical code requirements for construction in the County, provides for the issuance of certificates of competency, specifies the requirements for building permits, and provides penalties for violations of its provisions. The ordinance also creates the County Electrical Advisory Board, which is composed of six electrical contractors appointed by the County Commission, with the Chief Building Official serving as an ex officio member of the Board. The Board is required to adopt bylaws governing its procedures and to conduct advisory hearings as requested by the County Commission or the County Inspection Department.
Under the ordinance the Inspection Department is responsible for issuing certificates of competency to electrical contractors. Certificates may be suspended or revoked only by action of the County Commission for specified violations. The County Commission is authorized to conduct a hearing upon receiving a sworn complaint or as a result of an investigation by the Advisory Board or the Inspection Department. When a contractor who is the qualifying agent for a business ceases to be affiliated with the business or becomes affiliated with another business, he is required to notify the Board, although it does not appear that the Board is authorized to take any action for failure to provide notification. Building permits are granted by the Inspection Department, which inspects and must approve electrical work. In the event of a dispute over the proper interpretation of the electrical code, an appeal must be made to the Chief Building Official, who may call a meeting of the Advisory Board to render a non-binding advisory opinion on the merits of the appeal.
The ordinance also provides for an electrical repair and maintenance certificate to be issued by the Inspection Department in the individual applicant's name to certain types of businesses with which he is a full time employee. In order to be eligible for the certificate, the applicant must provide affidavits from former employers establishing at least four consecutive years of employment in either the electrical construction business or under the supervision of an experienced maintenance department which was authorized to perform electrical repair and maintenance. The ordinance specifies that if the Board determines that the applicant has the requisite knowledge and experience to perform electrical repair and maintenance work, it is to ask the applicant and his employer to execute a hold harmless agreement indemnifying the County and to provide the County with proof of insurance. As we understand this portion of the ordinance, an applicant cannot be issued an electrical repair and maintenance certificate unless the Board makes this determination.
As the Board's determination of the qualifications of applicants for electrical repair and maintenance certificates is a prerequisite for certification, this function of the Board cannot be said to be only advisory in nature. Although it appears that the Board's functions in all other respects are strictly advisory, we conclude that the powers, jurisdiction, and authority of the Board are not solely advisory. On this basis we find that the Board does not constitute an "advisory body," as that term is defined in Section 112.312(1) and that its members are "local officers" as provided in Section 112.3145(1)(a)2, Florida Statutes.
Accordingly, we find that the members of the Okaloosa County Electrical Advisory 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.