CEO 93-18 -- June 11, 1993
APPLICABILITY OF THE LAW TO MEMBERS OF THE BOARD
OF DIRECTORS OF NEIGHBORHOOD SECURITY DISTRICT
To: James E. Nall, President of Sunrise Intracoastal Neighborhood Security District (Ft. Lauderdale)
Members of the Sunrise Intracoastal Neighborhood Security District's board of directors are not required to file Statements of Financial Interests pursuant to Section 112.3145, Florida Statutes, because the District, due to its lack of activation by referendum and its lack of expenditures, is equivalent to an "advisory body" whose members are exempt from disclosure.
Are members of the Board of Directors of a neighborhood security district required to file a Statement of Financial Interests (CE Form 1) for 1992 and subsequent years, even though the district has not yet been activated by referendum approval and even though it has spent no public funds?
Your question is answered in the negative.
By your letter of inquiry, a subsequent letter from you, and telephone conversation between you and our staff, we are advised that the Ft. Lauderdale City Commission created the Sunrise Intracoastal Neighborhood Security District ("District") and appointed its board of directors in 1989. We are advised further that before the District can conduct any operations, State statutes require authorization by a voter referendum and approval of an operating budget by the City Commission. In addition, you advise that such a referendum has been held once already and that the voters failed to approve activation of the District. Thus, you advise, the District is in a "stand-by mode" and "will be activated by voter referendum at some future time when the present funds are inadequate." You explain that the District's residents now voluntarily pay for security services but that there is doubt that these voluntary contributions will be adequate. You advise that the voluntary contributions are being handled by a private neighborhood association and that the District has nothing to do with these funds. Further, you advise, the District has spent no public funds since its inception. You advise that the City Commission could set up another referendum at any time, without the need for approval by the District Board. Until such "activation" occurs, you advise, the Board would like to minimize paperwork by being "excused" from filing CE Form 1.
Section 112.3145(2)(b), Florida Statutes, requires each state and local officer to file a statement of financial interests no later than July 1 of each year. For the filing, the Commission on Ethics has promulgated CE Form 1. Section 112.3145(1)(a), Florida Statutes, provides the applicable definition of "local officer," which includes "[a]ny 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." [Emphasis supplied.] "Political subdivision" and "advisory body" are defined as follows:
. . . .'political subdivision' include[s] counties, cities, towns, villages, special tax school districts, special road and bridge districts, bridge districts, and all other districts in this state. [Section 1.01(8), Florida Statutes. Emphasis supplied.]
'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.]
Since the District appears to have no powers, jurisdiction, authority, or responsibility, it seems to us that it is at most an "advisory body," which might more properly be viewed as merely a blueprint for a governmental entity put in place by the City Commission for actual creation and activation through a referendum and the establishment of its budget by the City Commission. Thus, we find that the District is an "advisory body" whose members would be exempt from the financial disclosure law. Therefore, because the District is an "advisory body," we find that its members are not "local officers" required to file financial disclosure for the year 1992. Filings for subsequent years also will not be required, provided the District is not activated and provided the financial disclosure law remains unchanged.
Please note that our finding herein is based upon the District's not having any actual power or responsibility for reasons not within the control of its Board members. Our finding likely would not be the same in a situation in which the governing members of a governmental entity merely chose to ignore or not to exercise powers actually possessed.
Accordingly, we find that the members of the Sunrise Intracoastal Neighborhood Security District Board are not "local officers" required to file Statements of Financial Interests pursuant to Section 112.3145, Florida Statutes.