CEO 74-5 -- September 3, 1974
APPLICABILITY OF FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE LAW TO MEMBERS
OF A COUNTY BOARD OF HOSPITAL TRUSTEES
To: E. S. MacKenzie, Attorney for Board of Trustees, Lykes Memorial Hospital, Brooksville
Prepared by: Hal Johnson
Of board members required by law to file financial disclosure statements, only those whose powers are solely advisory are excluded. Method of appointment or selection to board membership is not basis for exclusion from financial disclosure requirements. By virtue of legislative act, the Board of Hospital Trustees, Hernando County, is empowered to operate, to promulgate and establish rules and regulations for, and to set fees for Lykes Memorial Hospital. The board of hospital trustees is therefore a regulatory and policy-making body whose members are public officers within the meaning of part III, Ch. 112, F. S., as amended by Ch. 74-177, Laws of Florida, and therefore are required to file financial disclosure statements in compliance with the law.
Are members of a county board of hospital trustees public officers within s. 112.312(7), F. S., as amended by Ch. 74 177, Laws of Florida, and therefore required to file a financial disclosure statement?
Your question is answered in the affirmative.
The financial disclosure law is comprehensive in its scope. It is designed to reach public officers at every level of state and local government with few exceptions. Included in the definition of a public officer are "[m]embers of boards." Section 112.312(7)(b), F. S., as amended by s. 2, Ch. 74-177, Laws of Florida. This law does not differentiate between those boards serving with or without compensation; nor is there any distinction as to whether their members are elected or appointed. However, the law expressly excludes from the definition of boards in general "advisory board members." Section 112.312(7)(b), F. S., as amended by s. 2, Ch. 74-177, Laws of Florida.
In the present instance as related in your letter, the Board of Hospital Trustees of Hernando County was formed by legislative act, Ch. 17549, 1935, Laws of Florida, and Ch. 18569, 1937, Laws of Florida, and its members are appointed by the county commissioners.
The duties of this board are declared by s. 1, Ch. 18569, to be:
The Board of County Commissioners of Hernando County, Florida, are authorized to appoint a Board of Trustees, said Board to consist of five members who shall hold office until the first day of January, A.D., 1937, and thereafter shall be appointed by the Board of County Commissioners for a term of two years; the said Board of Trustees shall have control of and shall operate said Hospital and shall have authority to promulgate and establish rules and regulations under which the said Hospital shall be operated; the Board of Trustees shall have authority to receive patients who are able to pay for care and attention and to prescribe the amount to be paid by such persons, to investigate and require pay from any persons when such investigation shall show them to be able to pay for their care and hospitalization, and further shall have authority to sue for and collect such amounts as may be due from patients. (Emphasis supplied.)
The language of the above quoted law clearly indicates that the board of trustees has policy making responsibility for the Lykes Memorial Hospital. It is responsible for the final decisions made in connection with the hospital. With such broad and final power, the board is not advisory in nature. Therefore the members do not come within the exclusion of "advisory" board members stated in s. 112.312(7)(b), F. S., as amended by s. 2, Ch. 74-177, Laws of Florida.
The members of the Board of Hospital Trustees of Hernando County are public officers within the meaning of the act and, thus, are required to file financial disclosure statements in compliance with the law.