[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Hasbrouck Heights 8-13-1991 by Ord. No. 1598. Amendments noted where applicable.]
It is the purpose of this chapter, to assure that standards of ethical conduct and the requirements of financial disclosure for officers and employees of the Borough of Hasbrouck Heights shall be clear, consistent, uniform in their application and enforceable and to provide those officers or employees with advice and information concerning possible conflicts of interests which might arise in the conduct of their public duties.
It is the further purpose of this chapter to implement the provisions of the Local Government Ethics Law, P.L. 1991, c. 29, N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.1 et seq.
This chapter is enacted under the authority of the Local Government Ethics Law, P.L. 1991, c. 29, N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.1 et seq., and under the provisions of Titles 40 and 40A of the New Jersey Statutes.
As used in this chapter, the following words shall have the meanings indicated:
- Any agency, board, governing body, including the chief executive officer, office, commission or other instrumentality of this Borough, and any independent local authority created by or appointed under the authority of this Borough which performs functions other than of a purely advisory nature.
- BUSINESS ORGANIZATION
- Any corporation, partnership, firm, enterprise, franchise, association, trust, sole proprietorship, union or other legal entity.
- Any person, whether compensated or not, whether part-time or full-time, employed by the Borough or serving on any agency of the Borough, but which person is not a local government officer.
- 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.
- MEMBER OF IMMEDIATE FAMILY
- The spouse or dependent child of an officer or employee residing in the same household.
- Any person, whether compensated or not, whether part-time or full-time, who is one of the following:
Member of the Borough Council.
Chief of Police.
Superintendent of the Department of Public Works.
Construction Code Official/Building Inspector.
Fire Code Official.
Fire Subcode Official.
Chief Financial Officer.
Secretary and Registrar of the Board of Health.
Public Health Nurse.
Member of the Board of Health.
Member of the Financial Assistance Board.
Member of the General Assessment Board.
Member of the Board of Adjustment.
Attorney for the Board of Adjustment.
Clerk/Secretary of the Board of Adjustment.
Member of the Planning Board.
Attorney for the Planning Board.
Clerk/Secretary of the Planning Board.
Director of the Free Public Library.
Trustee of the Free Public Library.
Member of the Rent Leveling Board.
Member of the Recreation Commission.
Emergency Management Coordinator.
Radio Communication Officer.
Any other person in a position hereinafter created who is a managerial executive or confidential employee of the Borough of Hasbrouck Heights or of an agency created under the authority of or appointed by the Borough of Hasbrouck Heights, as such position is defined in N.J.S.A. 34:13A-3(f) and (g).
Officers and employees of the Borough of Hasbrouck Heights shall comply with the following provisions:
No officer or employee of this Borough or member of his or 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 or her duties in the public interest.
No officer or employee shall use or attempt to use his or her official position to secure unwarranted privileges or advantages for himself or others.
No officer or employee shall act in his or her official capacity in any matter where he, a member of his or her immediate family or any business organization in which he or she has an interest has a direct or indirect financial or personal involvement that might reasonably be expected to impair his or her objectivity or independence or judgment.
No officer or employee shall undertake any employment or service, whether compensated or not, which might reasonably be expected to prejudice his or her independence of judgment in the exercise of his or her official duties.
No officer or employee, member of his or her immediate family or any business organization in which he or she has an interest, shall solicit or accept any gift, favor, 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, directly or indirectly, in the discharge of his or 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 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 or her official duties.
No 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. No officer or employee shall disseminate or cause the dissemination of any information gained in the course of the performance of official duties with the intention to mislead the public or with the knowledge that such information or parts thereof are erroneous.
[Amended 12-10-2013 by Ord. No. 2315]
No officer or employee or any business organization in which he or she has an interest shall represent any person or party other than the Borough in connection with any cause, proceeding, application or other matter pending before any agency of this Borough. This provision shall not be deemed to prohibit an employee from representing another employee where the representation is within the context of official labor union or similar representational responsibilities, nor shall this provision be applicable to the Public Defender with respect to representation of defendants in the Municipal Court.
No officer shall be deemed in conflict with these provisions if by reason of his or 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 or her as a member of any business, professional 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 shall be prohibited from making any 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 or her immediate family, whether directly or indirectly, in return therefor.
Nothing shall prohibit any officer or employee of the Borough of Hasbrouck Heights or members of his or her immediate family, from representing himself, herself or themselves in negotiations or proceedings concerning his, her or their own interests.
Officers of the Borough shall annually file a financial disclosure statement. All financial disclosure statements shall include the following information, which shall specify, where applicable, the name and address of each source and the officer's job title:
Each source of income, earned or unearned, exceeding $2,000 received by the officer or a member of his or 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 or her immediate family has an interest in the business organization.
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 or her immediate family during the preceding calendar year.
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 or her immediate family during the preceding calendar year.
The name and address of all business organizations in which the local government officer or a member of his or her immediate family had an interest during the preceding calendar year.
The address and brief description of all real property in the state in which the local government officer or a member of his or her immediate family held interest during the preceding calendar year.
The Borough Ethical Standards Board shall prescribe a financial disclosure statement form for filing purposes unless a financial disclosure statement form has been promulgated by the New Jersey Local Finance Board in accordance with the New Jersey Local Government Ethics Law. The Borough Clerk shall make the forms available to the officers and employees required to file a financial disclosure statement.
Editor's Note: See N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.1 et seq.
All financial disclosure statements filed shall be public record.
There is hereby established an Ethical Standards Board consisting of six members who are residents of the Borough of Hasbrouck Heights, at least two of whom shall be public members. The members of the Board shall be appointed by the Borough Council. The 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 Ethical Standards Board shall annually elect a Chairperson 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 or her 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 for necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties under this chapter to the extent that appropriations have been made for the same.
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, N.J.S.A. 52:14B-1 et seq.
In the event that a hearing is to be held, the officer or employee charged with violation of this chapter shall be accorded due process of law, including but not limited to the following:
Reasonable notice of hearing.
Right to counsel.
Right to prehearing discovery.
Right to take sworn oral and written testimony from any person.
Right to subpoena persons and documents.
Right to make stenographic records of the hearing.
Right of examination and cross-examination.
The Borough shall provide the Ethical Standards Board with the facilities needed for the conduct of its business and the preservation of its records and shall supply equipment and supplies as may be necessary and as may be provided for in the annual municipal budget.
All necessary expenses incurred by the Ethical Standards Board and its members shall be paid, upon certification of the Chairperson of the Board, by the Treasurer within the limits of funds appropriated in the annual budget or by emergency appropriations for those purposes.
The Ethical Standards Board may request and receive assistance from Borough officers and employees, including the Borough Clerk and the Borough Attorney, as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this chapter within the limits of funds appropriated for those purposes in the annual budget or by emergency appropriation.
Within 90 days after the appointment of the Ethical Standards Board, the Board shall promulgate by resolution a code of ethics for all officers and employees serving the Borough, including officers and employees serving any independent authority of the Borough. Until such time as the Ethical Standards Board shall have adopted a code of ethics, the provisions hereinbefore set forth shall serve as the code of ethics.
The code of ethics promulgated by the Board shall be either identical to the provisions set hereinbefore forth 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 on the code of ethics shall be published in the newspaper designated for the publication of official notices for the Borough and shall be delivered to the Borough Clerk for distribution among all officers and employees serving the Borough.
The Ethical Standards Board shall hold a public hearing on the code of ethics not less than 30 days following its promulgation, at which any officer or employee of the Borough 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 herein, the Board shall, as required by law, submit the code of ethics to the New Jersey Local Finance Board for approval.
If the Commission fails to approve or disapprove of the code within 60 days of the submission, it shall be deemed approved.
A code of ethics identical to the provisions set forth herein shall take effect 10 days after the public hearing thereon; a supplemented code shall take effect 60 days after approval.
The Board shall have the following powers:
To initiate, receive, hear and review complaints and hold hearings with regard to possible violations of the Municipal Code of Ethics or financial disclosure requirements by local government officers or employees serving the Borough.
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 the Code of Ethics or financial disclosure requirements by officers or employees serving the Borough which may warrant the institution of other legal proceedings.
To enforce provisions of the Code of Ethics and financial disclosure requirements with regard to officers or employees serving the Borough and to impose penalties for the violation thereof as are authorized by this chapter.
To adopt rules and regulations and do other things as are necessary to implement the purposes of this chapter.
An officer or employee of the Borough may request and obtain from the Board an advisory opinion as to whether any proposed activity or conduct would, in its opinion, constitute a violation of the Code of Ethics or any financial disclosure requirements.
Advisory opinions shall not be made public except when the Board, by the vote of 2/3 of its full membership, directs that the opinion be made public.
Public advisory opinions shall not disclose the name of the officer or employee unless the Board, in directing that the opinion be made public, likewise so determines.
The Board, upon receipt of a signed written complaint by any person alleging that the conduct of any officer or employee of the Borough is in conflict with the 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 Board shall make a determination as to whether the complaint is within its jurisdiction or frivolous or without any reasonable factual basis. If the Board concludes that the complaint is either 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 officer or employee of the Borough of Hasbrouck Heights against whom the complaint was filed.
If the Board shall conclude that the complaint is within its jurisdiction and has at least a minimal factual basis, the Board shall notify the officer or employee against whom the complaint was filed of the nature of the complaint and the facts and circumstances set forth herein.
The officer or employee shall have the opportunity to present the Board with any answering statement or any other information concerning the complaint as he or she wishes.
If the Board determines that a reasonable doubt exists as to whether the officer or employee is in conflict with the Municipal Code of Ethics or any financial disclosure requirements, the Board shall conduct a hearing on the alleged violation and any other facts and circumstances which may have come to the attention of the Board with respect to the conduct of the officer or employee, which hearing shall be in accordance with § 74-5E and F hereof.
The Board shall render a decision as to whether the conduct of the officer or employee is in conflict with the Code of Ethics or any financial disclosure requirements. This decision shall be made by no less than 2/3 of all members of the Board.
If the 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 limits of this chapter.
An appointed or elected officer or employee found guilty by the Board of the violation of any provision of this chapter or 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:58-1 et seq.
Editor's Note: N.J.S.A. 2A-58:1 was repealed by P.L. 1999, c. 274. See now N.J.S.A. 2A:58-10 et seq.
As to appointed officers or employees, the Board shall report its findings to the office or agency having the power for removal or discipline of the appointed officer or employee and may recommend that further disciplinary action be taken.
The finding by the Board that an appointed officer or employee of the Borough 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 or her 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 found to have violated the provisions of this chapter, the procedure leading 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.
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.