CEO 80-81 -- October 30, 1980
MUNICIPAL CODE ENFORCEMENT BOARD
APPLICABILITY OF FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE AND STANDARDS OF CONDUCT LAWS TO MEMBERS
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
Prepared by: Bonnie J. Williams
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees requires that each "local officer" annually file a statement of financial interests. Section 112.3145(2)(b), F. S. For purposes of such disclosure, the term "local officer" is defined in s. 112.3145(1)(a)2. to include appointed members of all boards within a political subdivision, excluding members of an advisory body. "Advisory body," in turn, is defined in s. 112.312(1) as a collegial body with certain limitations on its budget and whose "powers, jurisdiction, and authority are solely advisory . . . ." A municipal code enforcement board which has the authority to subpoena witnesses and evidence and to take testimony under oath clearly has powers which are more than solely advisory. Its members accordingly are "local officers" subject to the filing of financial disclosure annually. They also constitute "public officers" subject to the standards of conduct provisions contained in the Code of Ethics, based on the definition of that term in s. 112.313(1), which includes "any person elected or appointed to hold office in any agency, including any person serving on an advisory body."
Are members of a municipal code enforcement board established pursuant to ch. 80-300, Laws of Florida, local officers subject to the annual filing of financial disclosure or public officers subject to the standards of conduct within the Code of Ethics?
Your question is answered in the affirmative for both types of officers.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees requires that each "local officer" annually file a statement of financial interests. Section 112.3145(2)(b), F. S. For purposes of such disclosure, the term "local officer" is defined to include
[a]ny 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.]
The term "advisory body" is defined in s. 112.312(1) as follows:
"Advisory body" means 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.
Accordingly, unless an appointed board constitutes an advisory body within the above definition, its members are local officers subject to disclosure.
You enclosed with your letter of inquiry a copy of ch. 80-300, Laws of Florida, authorizing municipalities to create by ordinance code enforcement boards, whose members are appointed by the city council, for the purpose of "providing an equitable, expeditious, effective and inexpensive method of enforcing the various occupational license, fire, building, zoning, sign and related technical codes in force in municipalities." Section 166.053, F. S., as created by ch. 80-300. Under s. 166.058, F. S., the powers of each code enforcement board are declared to be as follows:
(1) Adopt rules for the conduct of its hearings.
(2) Subpoena alleged violators and witnesses to its hearings. Subpoenas may be served by the police department of the municipality.
(3) Subpoena evidence.
(4) Take testimony under oath.
As these powers clearly are more than solely advisory, the code enforcement board fails to meet the definition of an "advisory body." Its members consequently are deemed to constitute "local officers" subject to filing financial disclosure within 30 days of appointment and annually thereafter on or before July 15.
For purposes of the standards of conduct provisions of the Code of Ethics, the term "public officer" is defined in s. 112.313(1) to "include any person elected or appointed to hold office in any agency, including any person serving on an advisory body." Accordingly, as appointed members of a municipal board, those persons serving on the code enforcement board also constitute "public officers" under the Code of Ethics.