CEO 75-193 -- October 6, 1975
COUNTY HISTORICAL COMMISSION
To: Richard L. Smith, Attorney for Board of County Commissioners, Sarasota
Prepared by: Gene Rhodes
A county historical commission which exercises the responsibilities of collecting, arranging, recording, and preserving historical material as well as marking historical locations does not serve in an advisory capacity but, rather, makes policy in its own right. Members of such commissions therefore are deemed to be public officers subject to financial disclosure requirements of the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees.
Are the members of the Sarasota County Historical Commission public officers within the meaning of the Code of Ethics and thus subject to financial disclosure requirements?
Your question is answered in the affirmative.
Although the statute under which the Sarasota County Historical Commission was established is no longer in force, your letter of inquiry advises us that the historical commission has continued under county charter authority with the same duties. These duties include the duty to collect, arrange, record, and preserve historical material and data; to procure and preserve narratives of the early pioneers, their exploits, perils, privations, and achievements; and to collect material relative to the history of its Indian tribes and wars and relative to its soldiers, schools, and churches. Section 125.49, F. S. 1973. The historical commission also has the power to mark historical locations, s. 125.50, F. S., and to record historical data, s. 125.51, F. S.
From a recent communication with the Executive Director of the Sarasota County Historical Commission, we understand that the Sarasota County Commission approves an annual budget for the historical commission and that the historical commission is free to spend that money as it sees fit in carrying out its various functions. The county commission does not rule on each expenditure on an ad hoc basis.
The meaning of the term "public officer" includes:
Members of boards, commissions, authorities, special taxing districts, and the head of each state agency, however selected but excluding advisory board members. [Section 112.312(7)(b), F. S.; emphasis supplied.]
We have interpreted the exclusion of advisory boards to apply only to those boards which are solely advisory in nature. See CEO 74-20. An advisory board is one which renders advice or recommendations to an officer or agency which then has complete discretion to accept or reject the advice or recommendation presented by the advisory board. See CEO 74-4.
We find on the basis of the powers granted to historical commissions by the statute under which the Sarasota County Historical Commission was established and continues to operate that said Historical Commission is more than an advisory body.
We therefore conclude that the members of the Sarasota County Historical Commission are "public officers" within the meaning of the Code of Ethics and are subject to the disclosure requirements contained therein.