81.10

OPINION NO. 81-10

An assistant higher education officer (the Officer) at the Community College of Baltimore has requested advice from the State Ethics Commission on two issues. Both issues relate to whether he must file a financial disclosure statement under section 4-102 of the Public Ethics Law (Article 40A, §4-102, Annotated Code of Maryland, the Ethics Law). First, the Officer asks whether the Community College of Baltimore (CCB) is an executive agency of the State of Maryland. Second, he inquires as to whether he must file a financial disclosure statement for the reporting period of calendar year 1979, if he lived out of State during the year and only came to work at CCB in May, 1980.

In Opinion 80-9, we held that community colleges are executive agencies as contemplated by section 1-201(k) of the Ethics Law. In this regard we relied in part on Board of Trustees v. Ruff, Inc., 278 Md. 580 (1976) and Katz v. Washington San. Comm., 284 Md. 504 (1978). In essence, our holding in Opinion 80-9 was based on that portion of these cases which held that the community colleges are State agencies because they are established by State general public law, and because they exercise powers only available to State agencies. We see no reason to depart from our holding in Opinion 80-9; CCB is established by the Education Article, §16-201, Annotated Code of Maryland, and it exercises the same powers as its counterparts. We therefore conclude that CCB is an executive agency under the Ethics Law.

The Officer is employed by CCB as an assistant higher education officer. The college has a ten-step pay scale for assistant higher education officers ranging from a base of $26,000 to a maximum of $36,750. This is roughly the equivalent of grades 21 and 22 within the State classified system, which began at a base of $24,713 and reached a maximum of $35,061 as of January 1, 1980. It is thus our view that the Officer filled a position carrying with it compensation above the base level of a grade 18 ($19,619) during calendar year 1980. As section 1-201(z) of the Ethics Law defines a public official to include persons in an executive agency compensated at grade 18, we conclude that the Officer filled a position as a public official when he was employed in May 1980.

Under section 4-102(a) of the Ethics Law an official who is covered by the financial disclosure provisions, who is appointed to office during a given year must file a financial disclosure statement, ". .. within 30 days after appointment," for the prior calendar year. As the Officer is a public official compensated above a grade 18 in an executive agency, he must file a financial disclosure statement. Since he filled this position during 1980, he is required to file a financial disclosure statement covering 1979.

Herbert J. Belgrad, Chairman
    Jervis S. Finney
    Reverend John Wesley Holland
    Barbara M. Steckel

Date: April 6, 1981