CEO 85-64 -- September 3, 1985
APPLICABILITY OF DISCLOSURE LAW TO MEMBER OF COUNTY WELL FIELD AREA PROTECTION STUDY TASK FORCE
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
Members of the Metropolitan Dade County Well Field Area Protection Study Technical Review Task Force are not "local officers" subject to the requirement of filing statements of financial interests under Section 112.3145, Florida Statutes. The duties of the Task Force are solely advisory and do not include an ongoing role in a permitting, planning, or other type of process relating to land-planning or natural resources. CEO's 81-16, 82-84 and 84-48 are referenced.
Are you, a member of the Metropolitan Dade County Well Field Area Protection Study Technical Review Task Force, a "local officer" subject to the requirement of filing annually a statement of financial interests?
Your question is answered in the negative.
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), Florida Statutes. For purposes of such disclosure, 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, Florida Statutes (1983).]
The term "advisory body" is defined in Section 112.312(1), Florida Statutes, 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.
Therefore, an appointed member of an "advisory body" as defined above is not required to file a statement of financial interests annually unless that body has land-planning, zoning, or natural resources responsibilities.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that as Chief of the Flood Control and Flood Plain Management Branch for the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers you were designated by the Corps of Engineers to serve on the Metropolitan Dade County Well Field Area Protection Study Technical Review Task Force. The Task Force was established by County ordinance to review interim land use regulations designed to protect a well field in the County and to make recommendations to the County Commission. The committee assisted County staff to obtain current data, to improve the study design, and to ensure that the proposed study methods were sound. The committee then was asked to evaluate, from a technical perspective, the options available to ensure the long-term provision of an adequate and safe drinking water supply.
It is clear that the powers of the Task Force were solely advisory. In addition, we find that the Task Force did not have "land-planning or natural resources responsibilities" as contemplated by Section 112.3145(1)(a)2, Florida Statutes. In a previous opinion, CEO 81-16, we advised that an advisory board did not have natural resources responsibilities where the board was not delegated the responsibility of playing an ongoing role in a permitting, planning, or other type of process relating to natural resources, but rather was given the authority only to review generally some natural resource matters, to formulate policy recommendations, and to present its advice to a superior board or officer. Similarly, in CEO 82-84 we found that a city catchment area advisory committee responsible for advising the city commission regarding the preservation of an adequate water supply, among other things, did not have natural resources responsibilities. In addition, in CEO 84-48, we found that members of a county well construction advisory board created to assist the county by responding with advice on technical matters, rather than to review applications for permits, were not required to file financial disclosure statements. As the Task Force was created only for the specific purpose of assisting the County to review and develop land-use regulations and plays no ongoing role in any permitting or planning process, we find the rationale of these opinions to be applicable here.
Accordingly, we find that the members of the Well Field Area Protection Study Technical Review Task Force are not "local officers" and therefore are not required to file statements of financial interests annually under Section 112.3145, Florida Statutes.