CEO 87-80 -- October 29, 1987
APPLICABILITY OF DISCLOSURE LAW TO COUNTY PARK BOARD
To: Mr. James M. Chadwick, Member, Park Board of Pinellas County, St. Petersburg
The members of the Pinellas County Park Board are not "local officers" and therefore are not subject to the requirement of filing statements of financial interests under Section 112.3145, Florida Statutes. The Board's powers and duties are solely advisory.
Are you, a member of the Park Board of Pinellas County, a "local officer" subject to the requirement of filing a statement of financial interests annually?
Your question is answered in the negative.
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), Florida Statutes (1985). The term "local officer" is defined to mean
[a]ny appointed member of a board, commission, authority, including any expressway authority or transportation authority established by general law; 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 (1985).]
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), Florida Statutes (1985).]
The Park Board of Pinellas County consists of seven members appointed to five-year terms by the Board of County Commissioners. Chapter 70-901, Laws of Florida. The duties of the Park Board are provided in Chapter 61-2671, Section 3, Laws of Florida, as follows:
To recommend to the board of county commissioners of Pinellas County, Florida, the dedication of lands and facilities held by the county or the acquisition of lands and facilities by the county to be used as parks, playgrounds and recreational areas. To, subject to the approval of the board of county commissioners, supervise, manage, operate and maintain all the aforesaid facilities including those presently in existence. To, subject to the approval of the board of county commissioners, regulate use by the general public of aforesaid facilities. To recommend to the board of county commissioners, leasing and/or granting of concessions of such lands and/or facilities to private persons, firms or corporations, upon such terms and conditions as may be agreed upon between the parties, for the construction, operation or conduct by the lessee or concession holder of recreational and entertainment facilities for the use of the general public.
In addition, the Park Board is authorized to employ a park director, with approval of the Board of County Commissioners.
In your letter of inquiry and in a telephone conversation with our staff, you have advised that the Park Board has no independent power or budget and that the Board only makes a recommending vote to the County Commission. County funds for these purposes are budgeted directly to the Parks Department, which is administered by the Park Director.
In determining whether a particular board is an "advisory body," we have made our decision on the basis of the powers and duties expressly provided in the board's enabling legislation, rather than basing our determination on the responsibilities which the board may have chosen to exercise. Here, however, the language in the law regarding the duties of the Park Board is ambiguous. For this reason, we will follow the interpretation of that law which has been made and followed by the County. Taken in this light, the Park Board constitutes an "advisory body" under Section 112.312(1), Florida Statutes, as it meets the budgetary test set forth in that definition and as its powers are solely advisory. Further, it does not appear that the Park Board has any land planning, zoning, or natural resources responsibilities.
Accordingly, we find that the members of the Pinellas County Park Board are not "local officers" and therefore are not subject to the requirement of filing financial disclosure annually under Section 112.3145, Florida Statutes. Please note, however, that if the County's interpretation of the special acts which provide for the powers and duties of the Park Board changes, the Board members might be required to file financial disclosure. Therefore, in the event that the County's interpretation changes, we would suggest that the members of the Board seek another opinion.