Borough of Fair Lawn, NJ
Bergen County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Council of the Borough of Fair Lawn 5-12-1992 by Ord. No. 1501-92. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Establishment of Board of Ethics — See Ch. 2.
Defense and indemnification — See Ch. 7.
Personnel — See Ch. 30.
All officials and employees, both elected and appointed, of the borough occupy positions of public trust and shall discharge their duties in the sole interest of the public for whom they act and to whom they are accountable; and the public judges its government by the manner in which such public officials and employees conduct themselves. The public has a right to expect every such official and employee to act in a manner that will enhance and promote public confidence in and respect for the government, which confidence and respect is a cornerstone of a democratic society; and the Borough Council believes that one way in which these goals can be advanced is by the adoption of a Code of Ethics to establish standards of conduct for all officials and employees of the Borough of Fair Lawn.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
BUSINESS ORGANIZATION
Any corporation, partnership, firm, enterprise, franchise, association, trust, sole proprietorship, union or other legal entity.
GOVERNING BODY
The commission, council, board or body, by whatever name it may known, having charge of the finances of the municipality.
INTEREST
The ownership or control of more than 10% of the profits, assets or stock of a business organization 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 municipality, and any independent local authority; including any entity created by the 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 on a local government agency who is not a local government officer, but shall not mean any employee of a school district.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT OFFICER
Any person, whether compensated or not, whether part-time or full-time, elected to any office of a local government agency; serving on a local government agency which has the authority to enact ordinances, approve development applications or grant zoning variances; who is a member of an independent or semiautonomous municipal agency; or 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), but shall not mean any employee of a school district or member of a school board.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE
A local government officer or a local government employee.
MEMBER OF IMMEDIATE FAMILY
The spouse or dependent child of a local government officer or employee residing in the same household.
A. 
No local government officer or employee or member of his/her 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/her duties in the public interest.
B. 
No independent local authority shall, for a period of one year next subsequent to the termination of office of a member of that authority:
(1) 
Award any contract which is not publicly bid to a former member of that authority;
(2) 
Allow a former member of that authority to represent, appear for or negotiate on behalf of any other party before that authority; or
(3) 
Employ for compensation, except pursuant to open competitive examination in accordance with Title 11A of the New Jersey Statutes and the rules and regulations promulgated pursuant thereto, any former member of that authority. The restrictions contained in this subsection shall also apply to any business organization in which the former authority member holds an interest.
C. 
No local government officer or employee shall use or attempt to use his/her official position to secure unwarranted privileges or advantages for himself/herself or others.
D. 
No local government officer or employee shall act in his/her official capacity in any matter where he, a member of his/her immediate family or a business organization in which he/she has an interest, has a direct or indirect financial or personal involvement that might reasonably be expected to impair his/her objectivity or independence of judgment.
E. 
No local government officer or employee shall undertake any employment service, whether compensated or not, which might reasonably be expected to prejudice his/her independence of judgment in the exercise of his/her official duties.
F. 
No local government officer or employee, member of his/her immediate family or business organization in which he/she 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 that the gift, favor, loan, contribution, service, promise or other thing of value was given or offered for the purpose of influencing him/her, directly or indirectly, in the discharge of his/her official duties. This provision shall not apply to the solicitation or acceptance, of contributions to the campaign of an announced candidate for elective public office, if the local government officer has no knowledge or reason to believe that the campaign contribution, if accepted, was given with the intent to influence the local government officer in the discharge of his/her official duties.
G. 
No local government officer or employee shall use or allow to be used, his/her public office or employment or any information, not generally available to the members of the public, which he/she receives or acquires in the course of and by reason of his/her office or employment, for the purpose of securing financial gain for himself/herself, any member of his/her immediate family or any business organization with which he/she is associated.
H. 
No local government officer or employee or business organization in which he/she has an interest shall represent any person or party other than the local government in connection with any cause, proceeding, application or other matter pending before any agency in the local government in which he/she serves. This provision shall not be deemed to prohibit one local government employee from representing another local government employee where the local government agency is the employer and the representation is within the context of official labor union or similar representational responsibilities.
I. 
No local government officer shall be deemed in conflict with these provisions if, by reason of his/her 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/her 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.
J. 
No elected local government officer 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/her immediate family, whether directly or indirectly, in return therefor.
K. 
Nothing shall prohibit any local government officer or employee or members of his/her immediate family from representing himself/herself or themselves in negotiations or proceedings concerning his/her or their own interests.
A. 
Local government officers shall annually file a financial disclosure statement. All financial disclosure statements filed pursuant to this section shall include the following information which shall specify, where applicable, the name and address of each source and the local government officer's job title:
(1) 
Each source of income, earned or unearned, exceeding $2,000 received by the local government officer or a member of his/her immediate family during the preceding calendar year. Individual client fees, customer receipts or commissions on transactions received through a business organization need not be separately reported as sources of income. If a publicly traded security is the source of income, the security need not be reported unless the local government officer or member of his/her immediate family has an interest in the business organization.
(2) 
Each source of fees and honorariums having an aggregate amount exceeding $250 from any single source for personal appearances, speeches or writings received by the local government officer or a member of his/her immediate family during the preceding calendar year.
(3) 
Each source of gifts, reimbursements or prepaid expenses having an aggregate value exceeding $400 from any single source, excluding relatives, received by the local government officer or a member of his/her immediate family during the preceding calendar year.
(4) 
The name and address of all business organizations in which the local government officer or a member of his/her immediate family had an interest during the preceding calendar year.
(5) 
The address and brief description of all real property in the state in which the local government officer or a member of his/her immediate family held an interest during the preceding calendar year.
B. 
Financial disclosure statement form.
(1) 
The Local Finance Board shall prescribe a financial disclosure statement form for filing purposes. The Local Finance Board shall transmit sufficient copies of the forms to the Ethics Board for filing in accordance with this section. The Ethics Board shall make the forms available to the local government officers within the municipality.
(2) 
For local government officers serving the municipality, the original statement shall be filed with the Municipal Clerk in the municipality in which the local government officer serves. A copy of the statement shall be filed with the Local Finance Board. A copy of the statement shall also be filed with the Ethics Board. Local government officers shall file the initial financial disclosure statement within 90 days following the effective date of this chapter. Thereafter, statements shall be filed on or before April 30 each year.
C. 
All financial disclosure statements filed shall be public records.
The Board of Ethics is established as provided in Chapter 2 of the Code.
A local government officer or employee serving the municipality may request and obtain from the Municipal 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 Municipal 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.
A. 
The Municipal 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 municipality 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 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 in 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/she wishes. Thereafter, if the Ethics Board determines that a reasonable probability 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 § 10-8 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 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.
B. 
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.
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.).
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.
A. 
An appointed local government officer or employee found guilty by the Municipal Ethics Board of the violation of any provision of N.J.S.A. 40A:9-1 et seq. or of the 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:58-1 et seq.). The Municipal 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 Municipal 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. 2A:58-1 et seq.).