CEO 77-54 -- April 21, 1977
APPLICABILITY OF FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE PROVISIONS
To: George R. Campbell, Member, Vegetation Committee, Sanibel
Prepared by: Phil Claypool
Section 112.3145(1)(a)2., F. S. 1975, defines the term "local officer" to include members of boards of political subdivisions other than members of advisory bodies. However, the provision further states that a governmental body with land planning, zoning, or natural resources responsibilities shall not be considered an advisory body. As a municipal vegetation committee which advises the planning commission, the city council, and the city manager as to ecological management of vegetative resources clearly has responsibilities in the area of natural resources, it does not constitute an advisory body. Accordingly, members of such committee constitute local officers subject to the annual filing of statements of financial interests. Section 112.3145(2)(b), F. S. 1975.
Am I, a member of the Vegetation Committee of the City of Sanibel, a "local officer" for purposes of financial disclosure?
This question is answered in the affirmative.
In your letter of request and in information subsequently provided to our staff, you have stated that you have been appointed to the City of Sanibel Vegetation Committee. Pursuant to the city ordinance which established the committee, it has the following responsibilities:
The Vegetation Committee shall advise the Planning Commission, the City Council and the City Manager, about sound ecological management of vegetative resources in the City and may review and comment about proposed development. The Committee should collect, analyze, and disseminate information on basic ecological principles as they relate to Island vegetation. The Committee should, in addition, make available to the best of its ability expert technical assistance for any person on the Island who desires advice concerning the clearing or landscaping for a development activity. Such assistance shall include, but not be limited to, the identification of individual specimens of vegetation that should be preserved, advice on arrangements for the transplanting of individual specimens to other parcels on the Island, and the location of appropriate native species for landscaping. [Section 3, City of Sanibel Ordinance No. 76-28.]
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides that each "local officer" is required to make annual financial disclosure. Section 112.3145(2)(b), F. S. 1975. The term "local officer" is defined to include:
Any appointed member of a board, commission, authority, community college district board of trustees, or council of any political subdivision of the state, excluding any member of an advisory body. A governmental body with land-planning, zoning, or natural resources responsibilities shall not be considered an advisory body. [Section 112.3145(1)(a)2., F. S. 1975.]
Therefore, an appointed member of a committee which meets the requirements for being an "advisory body" set forth in s. 112.312(1), F. S. 1975, is not a "local officer" unless that committee has land planning, zoning, or natural resources responsibilities.
In the present case, although the vegetation committee clearly performs only advisory functions, its responsibilities lie in the area of natural resources and therefore it may not be deemed to be an "advisory body." Accordingly, we find that you, as a member of the city vegetation committee, are a "local officer" and thus are required to make annual financial disclosure.
You may be interested to know that the Ethics Commission has proposed to the Legislature a revision of the law which would exempt from disclosure members of natural resources 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 you or any other member of the vegetation committee wish to register your support for such amendment of the law, we suggest that you contact your local legislative delegation.