City of Trenton, NJ
Mercer County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of Trenton 8-16-2012 by Ord. No. 12-25. Amendments noted where applicable.]

§ 70-1 Definitions.

As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
BOARD
The Trenton Ethics Board.
BUSINESS ORGANIZATION
Any corporation, partnership, fun, enterprise, franchise, association, trust, sole proprietorship, union or other legal entity.
GOVERNING BODY
The City Council of the City of Trenton; Mercer County, New Jersey.
INTEREST
The ownership or control of more than 10% of the profits, assets or stock of a business organization or any interest whatsoever which yields directly or indirectly to the local government officer or employee or member of his/her immediate family a monetary or other material benefit but shall not include the control of assets in a nonprofit entity or labor union.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT AGENCY
The City of Trenton, and any such agency, board, or commission or other instrumentality thereof, and any independent local authority, including any entity created by more than one county or municipality, which performs functions other than of a purely advisory nature, but shall not include a school board.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE
Any person, whether compensated or not, whether part time or full time, employed by or serving a local government agency, who is not a local government officer, but shall not mean any employee or a school district.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT OFFICER
Any person, whether compensated or not, whether part time or full time:
A. 
Elected to any office of the City of Trenton;
B. 
Serving on a local governmental agency which has the authority to enact ordinances, approve development applications or grant zoning variances;
C. 
Who is a member of an independent municipal, county or regional authority;
D. 
Who is a managerial executive or confidential employee of a local government agency, as defined in Section 3 of the New Jersey Employer-Employee Relations Act, P.L. 1941, c. 100 (N.J.S.A. 34:13A-3), and members of various boards, committees, authorities and commissions as set forth in the Rules and Regulations of the Municipal Ethics Board, but shall not mean any employees of a school district or member of a school board.
MEMBER OF IMMEDIATE FAMILY
The spouse, domestic partner, partner in civil union, blood or adopted relative of a local government officer or employee residing in the same household.

§ 70-2 Membership; terms.

A. 
The Trenton Ethics Board shall consist of six members who are:
(1) 
Appointed by the governing body of the municipality;
(2) 
Chosen by virtue of their known and consistent reputation for integrity and their knowledge of local government affairs; and
(3) 
Residents of the municipality.
B. 
No more than three members of the ethics board shall be of the same political party, at least two of whom shall be public members.
C. 
The members of the Trenton Ethics Board shall annually elect a chairman from among the membership.
D. 
The members shall serve for a term of five years, except that of the members initially appointed, two of the public members shall be appointed to serve for a term of five years, one member shall be appointed to serve for a term of four years, and the remaining members shall be appointed to serve for a term of three years. Each member shall serve until his successor has been appointed and qualified. Any vacancy occurring in the membership of the Ethics Board shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment for the unexpired term.
E. 
Members of the Trenton Ethics Board shall serve without compensation but shall be reimbursed by the municipality for necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties under this chapter.

§ 70-3 Code of Ethics established.

A. 
Within 90 days after the establishment of a municipal ethics board, the Trenton Ethics Board shall promulgate, by resolution, a municipal Code of Ethics:
(1) 
For all local government officers and employees serving the municipality. Local government officers and employees serving a municipal independent authority shall be deemed to be serving the municipality for purposes of this chapter; and
(2) 
That shall be either identical to the provisions set forth in N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.1 or more restrictive, but shall not be less restrictive; and
(3) 
That shall be published, along with a notice of the date of the public hearing to be held thereon, in at least one newspaper circulating within Trenton and shall be distributed to the City Clerk and to the heads of the local government agencies serving Trenton for circulation among the local government officers and employees serving Trenton within 15 days following the promulgation thereof.
B. 
The Trenton Ethics Board shall hold a public hearing on the municipal Code of Ethics not less than 30 days following its promulgation, at which any local government officer or employee serving the municipality and any other person wishing to be heard shall be permitted to testify. As a result of the hearing, the Ethics Board may amend or supplement the municipal Code of Ethics as it deems necessary.
C. 
If the municipal Code of Ethics is not identical to the provisions set forth in N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.1, the Trenton Ethics Board shall thereafter submit the municipal Code of Ethics to the Local Finance Board for approval.
D. 
The municipal ethics codes shall not be in effect until 60 days after it is approved by the Local Finance Board by affirmative action or failure to act pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.21.
E. 
A municipal Code of Ethics identical to the provisions set forth in N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.1 shall take effect 10 days after the public hearing held thereon.
F. 
The Trenton Ethics Board shall forward a copy of the municipal Code of Ethics to the City Clerk and shall make copies of the municipal Code of Ethics available to local government officers and employees serving the City of Trenton.

§ 70-4 Powers of Board.

The Trenton Ethics Board shall have the following powers:
A. 
To initiate, receive, hear and review complaints and hold hearings with regard to possible violations of the City of Trenton Code of Ethics or financial disclosure requirements by local government officers or employees serving the City of Trenton;
B. 
To issue subpoenas for the production of documents and the attendance of witnesses with respect to its investigation of any complaint or to the holding of a hearing;
C. 
To forward to the Mercer County prosecutor or the Attorney General or other governmental body any information concerning violations of the City of Trenton municipal Code of Ethics or financial disclosure requirements by local government officers or employees serving the City of Trenton which may become the subject of criminal prosecution or which may warrant the institution of other legal proceedings by the Attorney General;
D. 
To render advisory opinions to local government officers or employees serving the City of Trenton as to whether a given set of facts and circumstances would constitute a violation of any provision of the municipal code of ethics or financial disclosure requirements;
E. 
To enforce the provisions of the municipal Code of Ethics and financial disclosure requirements with regard to local government officers or employees serving the City and to impose penalties for the violation thereof as are authorized by this act; and
F. 
To adopt rules and regulations and to do other things as are necessary to implement the purposes of this chapter.

§ 70-5 Advisory opinions.

A. 
A local government officer or employee serving the City of Trenton may request and obtain from the Trenton Ethics Board an advisory opinion as to whether any proposed activity or conduct would in its opinion constitute a violation of the municipal Code of Ethics or any financial disclosure requirements. Advisory opinions of the Trenton Ethics Board shall not be made public, except when the Ethics Board by the vote of 2/3 of all of its members directs that the opinion be made public. Public advisory opinions shall not disclose the name of the local government officer or employee unless the Ethics Board, in directing that the opinion be made public so determines.
B. 
The Trenton Ethics Board, upon receipt of a signed written complaint by any person alleging that the conduct of any local government officer or employee serving the City of Trenton is in conflict with the municipal Code of Ethics or financial disclosure requirements, shall acknowledge receipt of the complaint within 30 days of receipt and initiate an investigation concerning the facts and circumstances set forth in the complaint. The Trenton Ethics Board shall make a determination as to whether the complaint is within its jurisdiction or frivolous or without any reasonable factual basis. If the Ethics Board shall conclude that the complaint is outside its jurisdiction, frivolous or without factual basis, it shall reduce that conclusion to writing and shall transmit a copy thereof to the complainant and to the local government officer or employee against whom the complaint was filed. Otherwise, the Ethics Board shall notify the local government officer or employee against whom the complaint was filed of the nature of the complaint and the facts and circumstances set forth therein. The officer or employee shall have the opportunity to present the Ethics Board with any statement or information concerning the complaint which he wishes. Thereafter, if the Ethics Board determines that a reasonable doubt exists as to whether the local government officer or employee is in conflict with the municipal Code of Ethics or any financial disclosure requirements, it shall conduct a hearing in the manner prescribed by § 70-4 of this chapter, concerning the possible violation and any other facts and circumstances which may have come to its attention with respect to the conduct of the local government officer or employee. The Trenton Ethics Board shall render a decision as to whether the conduct of the officer or employee is in conflict with the municipal Code of Ethics or any financial disclosure requirements. This decision shall be made by no less than 2/3 of all members of the Ethics Board.
C. 
If the Ethics Board determines that the officer or employee is in conflict with the Code or any financial disclosure requirements, it may impose any penalties which it believes appropriate within the limitations of this chapter. A final decision of the Ethics Board may be appealed to the Local Finance Board within 30 days of the decision.
D. 
All statements, complaints, requests or other written materials filed pursuant to this chapter, and any rulings, opinions, judgments, transcripts or other official papers prepared pursuant to this chapter, shall be preserved for a period of at least five years from the date of filing or preparation, as the case may be.

§ 70-6 Violations and penalties.

A. 
An appointed local government officer or employee found guilty by the Trenton Ethics Board of the violation of any provision of this chapter or of any Code of Ethics in effect pursuant to this chapter shall be fined not less than $100 nor more than $500, which penalty may be collected in a summary proceeding pursuant to the penalty enforcement law (N.J.S.A. 2A:58-10 et seq.). The Trenton Ethics Board shall report its findings to the office or agency having the power of removal or discipline of the appointed local government officer or employee and may recommend that further disciplinary action be taken.
B. 
An elected local government officer or employee found guilty by the Trenton Ethics Board of the violation of any provision of this chapter or of any Code of Ethics in effect pursuant to this chapter shall be fined not less than $100 nor more than $500, which penalty may be collected in a summary proceeding pursuant to the penalty enforcement law (N.J.S.A. 2A:58-10 et seq.).

§ 70-7 Disciplinary actions.

The finding by the Local Finance Board or Trenton Ethics Board that an appointed local government officer or employee is guilty of the violation of the provisions of this chapter, or of any Code of Ethics in effect pursuant to this chapter, shall be sufficient cause for his removal, suspension, demotion or other disciplinary action by the officer or agency having the power of removal or discipline. When a person who is in the career service is charged with violating the provisions of this chapter, or of any Code of Ethics in effect pursuant to this chapter, the procedure lending to removal, suspension, demotion or other disciplinary action shall be governed by any applicable procedures of Title 11A of the New Jersey Statutes and the rules promulgated pursuant thereto.

§ 70-8 Hearings.

All hearings required pursuant to this chapter shall be conducted in conformity with the rules and procedures, insofar as they may be applicable, provided for hearings by a state agency in contested cases under the Administrative Procedure Act, P.L. 1968, c. 410 (N.J.S.A. 52:14B-1 et seq.).

§ 70-9 Board offices, expenses and employees.

A. 
The governing body of the municipality shall provide the Trenton Ethics Board with offices for the conduct of its business and the preservation of its records, and shall supply equipment and supplies as may be necessary.
B. 
All necessary expenses incurred by the Board and its members shall be paid, upon certification of the chairman, by the municipal treasurer within the limits of funds appropriated by the municipal governing body by annual or emergency appropriations for those purposes.
C. 
The Board may appoint employees, including independent counsel and clerical staff, as are necessary to carry out the provisions of this chapter within the limits of funds appropriated by the municipal governing body for those purposes.