OPINION NUMBER - 048
ADOPTED - 1982/07/22
SUBJECT - Statements of Potential Conflict
REQUESTED BY: Lincoln City-Lancaster County Planning and Zoning Commission, c/o Dana W. Roper, Assistant City Attorney, County-City Building, Lincoln, Nebraska 68508
QUESTION: Must a member of the Lincoln City-Lancaster County Planning and Zoning Commission file a Statement of Potential Conflict with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission with respect to a zoning or land-use planning matter that is subject to the jurisdiction of the City of Lincoln as distinguished from the County of Lancaster?
The Lincoln City-Lancaster County Planning and Zoning Commission was created pursuant to an inter-local agreement and other resolutions and ordinances recognized by Nebraska statutes. Basically its function is to make recommendations to the City Council and the County Board on matters pertaining to zoning and land-use planning. As a practical matter, approximately 90% of the recommendations deal with city concerns.
City ordinances provide that any officer or employee or relative thereof, who has a significant financial interest in any decision of any public body of which he is a member or to which he makes recommendations, shall make known such interest in the official records of the city in the manner hereinafter described and shall refrain from participating in any manner as an officer or employee in such decision. Such officer or employee who has any significant financial interest shall immediately upon discovery thereof declare his interest by filing a sworn statement with the City Clerk. In addition, there are other ordinances prohibiting a city officer or employee from using or attempting to use his official position to secure anything of value.
Section 49-1499, R. S. Supp. 1981, provides than an "individual designated in Section 49-1493, . . ., who, in the discharge of his or her official duties, would be required to take any action or make any decision that may cause financial benefit or detriment to him or her, a member of his or her immediate family, or a business with which he or she is associated," shall take certain actions by way of disclosing a potential conflict and be guided by the advice of the Accountability Commission.
Section 49-1493 (8) requires the filing of a Statement of Financial Interests by a "member of a land-use planning commission, zoning commission, or authority of . . . any county." This provision of Section 49-1493 requires the members of the Lincoln City-Lancaster County Planning Commission to file Statements of Financial Interests.
However, the language of Section 49-1499 requires the filing of a Statement of Potential Conflict only when the member of the planning commission is "acting in the discharge of his official duties." Under these circumstances, it is submitted that he would be acting in the discharge of his official duties as a member of a county land-use planning or zoning commission or authority only when he acts upon county matters as distinguished from city matters. That being the case, the Commission takes the position that a Statement of Potential Conflict need not be filed when the proposed action of a Lincoln City-Lancaster County Planning Commissioner concerns a matter subject only to the approval of the City Council as distinguished from the County Board or both such Council and Board.