CEO 77-27 -- March 9, 1977
CITIZEN ADVISORY COMMITTEE
APPLICABILITY OF FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE LAW TO MEMBERS
To: William H. Ravenell, Secretary, Department of Community Affairs, Tallahassee
Prepared by: Phil Claypool
Local citizen advisory committees, established pursuant to s. 701 of the Housing Act of 1954, exercise responsibilities in the area of land planning and zoning and therefore do not constitute advisory bodies pursuant to language contained in s. 112.3145(1)(a)2., F. S. 1975, defining a "local officer" for purposes of financial disclosure. Reference is made to a previous opinion of the Ethics Commission, CEO 76-120. Members of such citizen advisory committees therefore are deemed to be local officers required to file financial disclosure on an annual basis. Section 112.3145(2)(b), F. S. 1975.
Are members of a citizen advisory committee which has been established pursuant to s. 701 of the Housing Act of 1954 and guidelines of the Department of Community Affairs "local officers" for purposes of financial disclosure?
Your question is answered in the affirmative.
You have stated in your letter of request that the Department of Community Affairs is designated to administer the Comprehensive Planning Assistance Program under s. 701 of the Federal Housing Act of 1954. The department receives funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in order to award grants to local governments for planning and management programs. The department then distributes the funds to selected local governments for use in the development of their comprehensive plans, as required by the Local Government Comprehensive Planning Act of 1975, ss. 163.3161, et seq., F. S. 1975.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development requires that all recipients of funds develop mechanisms for insuring citizen involvement in the development of comprehensive plans; accordingly, the Department of Community Affairs has issued guidelines, followed by most local governments, which suggest the creation of an advisory committee composed of a cross section of the community to provide necessary citizen input when developing comprehensive plans. All of these committee members are appointed by local governments and act in an advisory capacity to them or to their planning commissions. These committees usually have no expenses and therefore are unfunded.
Enclosed please find a copy of a previous opinion of this commission, CEO 76-120, which addresses the question of applicability of the disclosure law to a municipal citizens advisory committee established pursuant to s. 701 of the Housing Act of 1954. The response contained therein is equally applicable to your inquiry, which is answered accordingly in the affirmative.
As we advised a member of your staff at our recent meeting, the Ethics Commission has proposed to the Legislature a revision of the law which would exempt from disclosure members of planning boards whose actions are neither final or binding on another body whose action is final nor of such a nature that positive action of another body is required to reverse or supersede them. Should members of citizens advisory committees wish to register their support for such amendment of the law, we suggest that they contact their local legislative delegation.