[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Cresskill 9-20-2000 by Ord. No. 00-17-1225. Amendments noted where applicable.]
This chapter shall be known as the "Borough of Cresskill Code of Ethics."
The Mayor and Council of the Borough of Cresskill find and declare that:
Public office and employment each are a public trust;
The vitality and stability of representative democracy depend upon the public's confidence in the integrity of its elected and appointed representatives;
Whenever the public perceives a conflict between the private interests and public duties of a government officer or employee, that confidence is imperiled; and
Governments have the duty both to provide their citizens with standards by which they may determine whether public duties are being faithfully performed and to apprise their officers and employees of the behavior which is expected of them while conducting their public duties.
Purpose and authority. It is the purpose of this chapter to provide a method of assuring that standards of ethical conduct requirements for officers and employees of the Borough of Cresskill shall be clear, consistent, uniform in their application, and enforceable on a Borough-wide basis, and to provide officers or employees of the Borough of Cresskill with advice and information concerning possible conflicts of interest which might arise in the conduct of their public duties. This chapter is adopted under the authority of the Local Government Ethics Law, P.L. 1991, c. 29, and under the authority granted to the Borough of Cresskill pursuant to the provisions of Titles 40 and 40A:9-22.19 of the New Jersey Statutes.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- The Ethical Standards Board established in the Borough of Cresskill pursuant to this chapter.
- BUSINESS ORGANIZATION
- Any corporation, partnership, firm, enterprise, franchise, association, trust, sole proprietorship, union or other legal entity.
- GOVERNING BODY
- The Mayor and Council of the Borough of Cresskill.
- The ownership or control of more than 10% of the profits, assets or stock of a business organization by a member of immediate family, but shall not include the control of assets in a nonprofit entity or labor union.
- LOCAL GOVERNMENT AGENCY
- Any agency, board, governing body, including the chief executive officer, bureau, division, office, commission or other instrumentality within the Borough of Cresskill, including any entity created by the Borough of Cresskill which performs functions other than of a purely advisory nature, but shall not include the School Board.
- LOCAL GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE
- Any person, whether compensated or not, whether part-time or full-time, employed by or serving the Borough of Cresskill or any agency thereof who is not a local government officer, but shall not mean any employee of the School Board.
- LOCAL GOVERNMENT OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE
- An officer or an employee of the Borough of Cresskill.
- MEMBER OF IMMEDIATE FAMILY
- A spouse or dependent child of an officer or employee of the Borough of Cresskill who resides in the same household as such officer or employee.
Local government officers and employees under the jurisdiction of the Borough of Cresskill Ethical Standards Board shall, subject to promulgation by the Ethical Standards Board, comply with the following standards and provisions or such other or different standards and provisions when promulgated by resolution of the Ethical Standards Board appointed pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.19 and promulgated pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.21:
No local government officer or employee or member of his immediate family shall have an interest in a business organization or engage in any business, transaction, or professional activity, which is in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of his duties in the public interest, and no local government officer or employee shall have an interest in a business organization that does business with the Borough of Cresskill unless approved by resolution of the Mayor and Council, the officer not voting;
Restrictions following termination of office.
No local government agency shall, for a period of one year next subsequent to the termination of office of a member of that agency:
Award any contract which is not publicly bid to a former member of that agency;
Allow a former member of that agency to represent, appear for or negotiate on behalf of any party before that agency; or
Employ or appoint for compensation, except pursuant to open competitive examination in accordance with Title 11A of the New Jersey Statutes and the rules and regulation promulgated pursuant thereto, any former member of that agency.
The restrictions contained in this subsection shall also apply to any business organization in which the former agency member holds an interest.
No local government officer or employee shall use or attempt to use his official position to secure unwarranted privileges or advantages for himself or others.
No local government officer or employee shall act in his official capacity in any matter where he or a member of his immediate family, or a business organization in which he has an interest, has a direct or indirect financial or personal involvement that might reasonably be expected to impair his objectivity or independence of judgment.
No local government officer or employee shall undertake any employment or service, whether compensated or not, which might reasonably be expected to prejudice his independence of judgment in the exercise of his official duties.
No local government officer or employee, a member of his immediate family, or business organization in which he has an interest, shall solicit or accept any gift, favor, loan, political contribution, service, promise of future employment or other thing of value based upon an understanding or knowledge of the recipient that the gift, favor, loan, contribution, service, promise or other thing of value was given or offered for the purpose of influencing him, directly or indirectly, in the discharge of his official duties. This provision shall not apply to the solicitation or acceptance of contributions to the campaign of any announced candidate for elective public office, if the officer has no knowledge or reason to believe that the campaign contribution, if accepted, was given with the intent to influence the officer in the discharge of his official duties.
No local government officer or employee shall use or allow to be used his public office or employment, or any information not generally available to the members of the public which he receives or acquires in the course of and by reason of his office or employment, for the purpose of securing financial gain for himself, any member of his immediate family or any business organization with which he is associated or has an interest.
No local government officer or employee or business organization in which such officer or employee has an interest shall represent any person or party, other than the Borough government agency, in connection with any cause, proceeding, application or other matter pending before any agency in the Borough of Cresskill. This provision shall not be deemed to prohibit one Borough employee from representing another Borough employee where the Borough government agency is the employer and the representation is within the context of official labor union or similar representational responsibilities.
No officer shall be deemed in conflict with these provisions if, by reason of his participation in the enactment of any ordinance, resolution, or other matter required to be voted upon or which is subject to executive approval or veto, no material or monetary gain accrues to him as a member of any business, profession, occupation or group to any greater extent than any gain could reasonably be expected to accrue to any other member of such business, profession, occupation or group.
No elected officer of the Borough of Cresskill shall be prohibited from making an inquiry for information on behalf of a constituent, if no fee, reward or other thing of value is promised to, given to or accepted by the officer or a member of his immediate family, whether directly or indirectly, in return therefor.
Nothing shall prohibit any local government officer or employee or any members of his immediate family from representing himself, or themselves, in negotiations or proceedings concerning his or their own interests.
No local government officer or employee shall breach the confidentiality of a local government agency meeting in which the public has been excluded pursuant to N.J.S.A. 10:4-12 (exceptions to the Open Public Meetings Act); provided, however, that it shall not be a violation of this Ethics Code if the breach of confidentiality is not proximately related to the confidential purpose of the meeting and the breach of confidentiality does not compromise the workings of the local government agency.
Local government officers shall annually file a financial disclosure statement as required by N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.6.
There is hereby established the Borough of Cresskill Ethical Standards Board which shall consist of six members who are residents of the Borough of Cresskill, at least two of whom shall be public members. Members shall be appointed by the Mayor and Council upon a 2/3 vote of the entire Mayor and Council. Members shall be chosen by virtue of their known and consistent reputation for integrity and their knowledge of local government affairs. No more than three members of the Board shall be of the same political party.
The members of the Board shall annually elect a Chairman from among the membership.
The members shall serve for terms of five years; except that of the members initially appointed, two of the public members shall be appointed to serve for terms 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 terms of three years. Each member shall serve until his successor has been appointed and qualified. Any vacancy occurring in the membership of the Board shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment for the unexpired term.
Members of the Board shall serve without compensation, but shall be reimbursed by the Borough for necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties under this chapter, provided that said expenses are approved by the Mayor and Council, which approval shall not be unreasonably denied.
The governing body shall provide the Board with nonexclusive offices for the conduct of its business and for the preservation of its records and shall supply equipment and supplies as may be necessary.
All necessary expenses incurred by the Board and its members shall be paid, upon certification of its Chairman, by the Borough Treasurer within the limits of funds appropriated by the governing body by annual or emergency appropriations for those purposes. No expenses above the annual appropriations amount shall be incurred by the Board without prior approval of the Mayor and Council.
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 governing body for those purposes as provided in § 23-7B. In addition, the Board may request and receive assistance from other Borough officers and employees, including the Borough Clerk, but not the Borough Attorney. Any counsel hired by the Board shall be paid at not more than the hourly rate paid to the Borough Attorney.
Within 90 days after the appointment of the Borough Ethical Standards Board, the Board shall, by resolution, promulgate a Code of Ethics for all local government officers and employees serving the Borough.
The Code of Ethics to be promulgated by the Board shall be either identical to the provisions set forth in § 23-4 of this chapter or more restrictive, but shall not be less restrictive.
Within 15 days following the promulgation thereof, the Code of Ethics and a notice of the date of the public hearing to be held thereon shall be published in at least one newspaper circulating within the Borough and shall be distributed to the Borough Clerk for circulation among the local government officers and employees serving the municipality.
The Board shall hold a public hearing on the Code of Ethics not later 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 Board may amend or supplement the Code of Ethics as it deems necessary. If the Code of Ethics is not identical to the provisions set forth in N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.5, the Board shall thereafter submit the Code of Ethics to the New Jersey Local Finance Board for approval. If the New Jersey Local Finance Board fails to act within 60 days following its receipt of the Code of Ethics, then the Code of Ethics shall be deemed to be approved as submitted.
If the Code of Ethics requires approval of the New Jersey Local Finance Board, then the Code of Ethics shall take effect for all local government officers and employees serving the Borough 60 days after approval by the New Jersey Local Finance Board.
If the Code of Ethics is identical to the provisions set forth in N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.5, then the Code of Ethics shall take effect 10 days after the public hearing held thereon.
The Board shall forward a copy of the Code of Ethics, as is approved by the New Jersey Local Finance Board, to the Municipal Clerk and shall make copies of the Code of Ethics available to local government officers and employees serving the municipality.
The Borough of Cresskill Ethical Standards Board shall have the following powers:
To initiate, receive and review complaints and hold hearings with regard to possible violations of this chapter, the Code of Ethics or financial disclosure requirements by local government officers or employees serving the municipality.
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.
To forward to the County Prosecutor or the Attorney General or other governmental body any information concerning violations of this chapter, the Code of Ethics or financial disclosure requirements by local government officers or employees serving the municipality which may become the subject of a criminal prosecution or which may warrant the institution of other legal proceedings by the Attorney General.
To render advisory opinions to local government officers or employees serving the municipality as to whether a given set of facts and circumstances would constitute a violation of any provision of this chapter, the Code of Ethics or financial disclosure requirements.
To enforce the provisions of this chapter, the Code of Ethics and financial disclosure requirements with regard to local government officers or employees serving the municipality and to impose penalties for the violation thereof as may be authorized by the provisions of the Local Government Ethics Law, P.L. 1991, c. 29.
To adopt rules and regulations and to do other things as are necessary to implement the purposes of this chapter of the Cresskill Borough Code, as are approved by the Cresskill Mayor and Council.
A local government officer or employee serving the Borough of Cresskill may request and obtain, as provided in § 23-9D, from the Borough Ethical Standards Board an advisory opinion as to whether any proposed activity or conduct would, in its opinion, constitute a violation of this chapter, the Code of Ethics or any financial disclosure requirements. Advisory opinions of the Board shall not be made public, except when the Board, by 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 Board, in directing that the opinion be made public, so determines with the written consent of the officer or employee making the request.
The Borough Ethical Standards Board, upon receipt of a signed written and verified complaint by any person alleging that the conduct of any local government officer or employee serving the Borough is in conflict with this chapter, the Code of Ethics or financial disclosure requirements, shall acknowledge receipt of the complaint within 30 days of the receipt and, upon receipt of a complaint filing fee of $100 to be used by the Board to cover reasonable expenses, shall initiate an investigation concerning the facts and circumstances set forth in the verified complaint.
The Board shall make a determination as to whether the complaint is within its jurisdiction or is frivolous or is without any reasonable factual basis. If the Board shall conclude that the complaint is outside of its jurisdiction, is frivolous or is without reasonable factual basis, the Board 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.
If the Board concludes that a complaint is within its jurisdiction and is supported by a reasonable factual basis, the 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 and shall provide the accused access to all information received or available to the Board in finding reasonable factual support and jurisdiction to proceed on the complaint.
The officer or employee shall have the opportunity to present the Board with any sworn or certified statement or information concerning the complaint which the Board deems relevant and admissible as evidence.
If the Board determines that a reasonable doubt exists as to whether the local government officer or employee is in conflict with this chapter, the Code of Ethics or any financial disclosure requirements, or the accused requests a public or private hearing, it shall conduct a hearing in accordance with this subsection concerning the possible violation and any other facts and circumstance which may have come to its attention with respect to the conduct of the local government officer or employee.
The Board shall render a decision as to whether the conduct of the local government officer or employee is in conflict with this chapter, the Code of Ethics or any financial disclosure requirements. The decision of the Board shall be made by not less than 2/3 of all members of the Board.
If the Board determines that the local government officer or employee is in conflict with this chapter, the Code of Ethics or any financial disclosure requirements, the Board may impose any penalties which it believes appropriate within the limitations of the Local Government Ethics Law, P.L. 1991, c. 29. In addition, the Board shall report its findings to the Borough office or agency having the power of removal or discipline of the local government officer or employee and may recommend that further disciplinary action be taken.
A final decision of the Borough Ethical Standards Board may be appealed to the New Jersey Local Finance Board within 30 days of the decision of the Board.
All hearings required pursuant to this subsection shall be conducted in conformity with the rules and procedures, in so far as they may be applicable, provided for hearings by a state agency in contested cases under the Administrative Procedure Act N.J.S.A. 52:14B-1 et seq.
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 five years from the date of filing or preparation, as the case may be.
This chapter shall take effect upon final adoption and publication and as required by law. Nevertheless, this chapter shall be of no force or effect as to the incumbent Mayor and Council for their remaining terms of office, as complaints against said officials shall continue to be within the exclusive jurisdiction of the New Jersey Local Finance Board; also, complaints as to a member of the Cresskill Ethical and Finance Board.