CEO 79-62 -- October 17, 1979
AREAWIDE CLEAN WATER ADVISORY GROUP
APPLICABILITY OF FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE LAW TO MEMBERS
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
Prepared by: Phil Claypool
Reference is made to CEO 78-80. Members of an areawide clean water advisory group constitute "local officers" for purposes of the financial disclosure law contained in s. 112.3145, F. S. 1977. Although functioning solely in an advisory capacity, the group is substantially responsible for policy recommendations regarding the natural resource decisions of the county planning council and by virtue of such responsibility, may not be deemed an "advisory body" pursuant to s. 112.3145(1)(a)2.
Are the members of the Broward County Areawide Clean Water Advisory Group "local officers" subject to the requirement of filing financial disclosure annually?
Your question is answered in the affirmative.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides that each "local officer" shall file a statement of financial interests annually. Section 112.3145(2)(b), F. S. 1977. 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. 1977.]
In turn, "advisory body" is defined to mean
. . . any board, commission, committee, council, or authority, however selected, whose total budget, appropriations, or authorized expenditures constitute less than 1 percent of the budget of each agency it serves or $100,000, whichever is less, and whose powers, jurisdiction, and authority are solely advisory and do not include the final determination or adjudication of any personal or property rights, duties, or obligations, other than those relating to its internal operations. [Section 112.312(1), F. S. 1977.]
The areawide clean water advisory group has been created by the Broward County Planning Council as part of the public participation required for its Areawide Clean Water Management Plan and 208 Continuing Planning Program under the Federal Clean Water Act (Pub. L. No. 95-217). Initially, we note that s. 2.0 of the bylaws of this advisory group require each member to complete CE Form 1. This form constitutes the statement of financial interests required by s. 112.3145, F. S. Therefore, it appears that, even if the members of the group were not required to file financial disclosure under that section, they would be required to file by the group's bylaws. See s. 112.326, F. S., which provides that the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees shall not prohibit the governing body of a political subdivision from imposing upon its own local officers additional or more stringent disclosure requirements than those specified in the Code of Ethics.
Nevertheless, in our view, the members of the areawide clean water advisory group are "local officers" for purposes of the financial disclosure law. In ruling that members of the predecessor to the advisory group were subject to this law, we advised that that committee had natural resources responsibilities since it was substantially responsible for the formulation of policy recommendations regarding the Broward County Areawide Water Quality Management Plan, even though it served solely an advisory function. See CEO 78-80. The areawide clean water advisory group, although functioning solely in an advisory capacity, is substantially responsible for policy recommendations regarding the natural resource decisions of the Broward County Planning Council. This is evidenced by ss. 4.5 and 4.6 of the group's bylaws.
Accordingly, we find that the members of the areawide clean water advisory group are "local officers" subject to the requirement of filing a statement of financial interests (CE Form 1) annually. This would be true whether or not the members of the group are required to file a county financial disclosure form, as s. 112.326, F. S., which is referenced above, would make such disclosure an additional requirement to that of the Code of Ethics. Please be advised that we have no authority to interpret a county ordinance in an advisory opinion, as our authority in that respect is limited to opinions concerning the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees.