CEO 01-20 -- October 23, 2001
APPLICABILITY TO LOCAL PENSION BOARDS PARTICIPATING IN FLORIDA MUNICIPAL PENSION TRUST FUND ADMINISTERED BY THE FLORIDA LEAGUE OF CITIES
To: Name withheld at person's request (Longwood)
Local pension boards retain ultimate authority to invest funds and make binding determinations of entitlement, even when they participate in the Florida Municipal Pension Trust Fund administered by the Florida League of Cities. Therefore, a member of the board is considered to be a "local officer" for purposes of Section 112.3145, Florida Statutes, and is subject to its disclosure obligations.
Are members of a city's pension board subject to the financial disclosure requirements of Section 112.3145, Florida Statutes, when the city participates in the Florida Municipal Pension Trust Fund administered by the Florida League of Cities?
Your question is answered in the affirmative.
Through your letter of inquiry and other information received by our staff, we are advised that you served as a member of the Board of Trustees for the City of Longwood Firefighters' and Police Officers' Pension Trust Fund (Pension Board) from July 1997 until your term ended in July 2001. You indicate that prior to this year, you were never informed of any obligation to file financial disclosure by City officials, and you assume that this was because the duties of the Pension Board were considered advisory in nature and not subject to the financial disclosure requirements of Section 112.3145, Florida Statutes. However, earlier this year, the Supervisor of Elections provided you with a CE Form 1 and your City Clerk advised that you were required to file. You now question that advice.
It has been long-settled under our precedent that local pension boards were subject to the financial disclosure requirements of Section 112.3145, Florida Statutes. See CEO 76-89 and CEO 80-54. With the power to invest funds and make binding determinations on entitlement, they did not meet the definition of an "advisory body" in Section 112.312(1), Florida Statutes.
In 2000, the definition of "local officer" was amended to include:
A pension board or retirement board having the power to invest pension or retirement funds or the power to make a binding determination of one's entitlement to or amount of a pension or other retirement benefit; [Section 112.3145(1)(a)2.f., Florida Statutes (2000).]
Members of local pension boards with this authority are considered to be "local officers" subject to the financial disclosure obligations of Section 112.3145, Florida Statutes.
The question, then, is whether the City of Longwood's Pension Board's being a participant in the Florida Municipal Pension Trust Fund (FMPTF) administered by the Florida League of Cities alters the powers and duties of this local pension board. After examining the applicable statutory provisions in Chapters 175 and 185, Florida Statutes, and the relevant plan documents, we conclude that it does not.
Section 175.071, Florida Statutes, lists the powers and duties of firefighter pension boards; similar statutory provisions for municipal police pension boards are contained in Section 185.06, Florida Statutes. Both statutes give their respective trustees the power to invest and reinvest the assets of the trust fund (Section 175.071(1) and Section 185.06(1), Florida Statutes), and finally decide all claims to relief (Section 175.071(3) and Section 185.06(1)(d), Florida Statutes).
In examining the Basic Defined Benefit Plan Document executed by the City of Longwood and made available by staff of the Florida League of Cities, we find that there is nothing to indicate that the City delegated these duties to the FMPTF. The Plan Document defines "Trustee" and "Board" to mean the members of the City's Pension Board and indicates that their duties include determining all questions relating to eligibility and participation (Article 3.01(e)(1)); determining the amount of all benefits (Article 3.01(e)(3)); authorizing all payments whatsoever from the Fund (Article 3.01(e)(7)); and investing and reinvesting the assets of the Fund (Article 3.01(e)(12)). While the practical effect of the City's participation in the FMPTF may be to allow the FMPTF's administrator to perform these duties on its behalf, it has not and cannot legally delegate the ultimate responsibility for these duties to the FMPTF.
Accordingly, we find that members of the Board of Trustees for the Longwood Police Officers' and Firefighters' Pension Trust Fund, despite participating in the Florida Municipal Pension Trust Fund administered by the Florida League of Cities, are required to file financial disclosure pursuant to Section 112.3145, Florida Statutes.
ORDERED by the State of Florida Commission on Ethics meeting in public session on October 18, 2001 and RENDERED this 23rd day of October, 2001.
Ronald S. Spencer, Jr.