CEO 89-25 -- June 14, 1989
To: Mr. W. Ray Newton, Director, Planning Department, City of Jacksonville
The members of the Jacksonville Planning Advisory Committee are "local officers" subject to the requirement of filing statements of financial interests under Section 112.3145, Florida Statutes, because of the Committee's role in land planning in the comprehensive planning process.
Are the members of the Jacksonville Planning Advisory Committee "local officers" subject to the requirement of filing annual statements of financial interest?
Your question is answered in the affirmative.
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 this disclosure, the term "local officer" is defined to mean:
Any appointed member of a board; commission; authority, including any expressway 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. [E.S.] [Section 112.3145(1)(a)2, Florida Statutes (1987).]
In turn, the term "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.]
We have advised previously in CEO 78-80 and CEO 87-89 that citizens advisory committees to local land planning agencies are subject to the requirement of filing statements of financial interests under the above quoted section because of their responsibilities in land planning. In our opinion, the Jacksonville Planning Advisory Committee has land-planning responsibilities, as its members are charged with review and comment on various aspects of the comprehensive plan and participation in the plan review process by the Planning Commission and the City Council. See Section 3.1, Jacksonville Planning Department Procedures for Public Participation in the Comprehensive Planning Procedure. Due to these land planning responsibilities, the Committee cannot be considered an "advisory body" within the meaning of Section 112.3145(1)(a)(2), Florida Statutes.
In your letter of inquiry, you also advise that members of the Planning Advisory Committee are not appointed by any governmental body, but are designated by various organizations to provide community input in the planning process. Planning Department procedures provide for specified business, professional, environmental, and citizens organizations and major institutions of higher education to appoint members to the Committee. We are of the opinion that these persons are appointed members of the Planning Advisory Committee, although they are appointed by community organizations.
We do not believe that this fact exempts members of the Committee from filing disclosure statements. The definition of "advisory body" provided in Section 112.312(1), Florida Statutes, includes any "board, commission committee, council or authority, however selected." Also, in CEO 80-54, we advised that police and fire department representatives who served on a pension board were "local officers" under Section 112.3145(1)(a)2, Florida Statutes, despite the fact that these members were elected by police and fire department personnel. Numerous local boards and committees are composed of representatives from various organizations, and the fact that the process of selection is carried out by vote of the membership or designation by the organization does not indicate that the process is not one of appointment. Rather than being based on the manner of appointment, the disclosure law focuses on the function of the committee itself; to decide otherwise would allow an agency to delegate its appointing authority in order to avoid financial disclosure requirements.
Accordingly, we find that members of the Jacksonville Planning Advisory Committee are "local officers" required to file statements of financial interests annually as provided in Section 112.3145, Florida Statutes.