Borough of Highland Park, NJ
Middlesex County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Adopted by Ord. No. 1656 (§ 2-42 of the 1987 Code)]

§ 33-18 Existence and membership.

A. 
There is hereby created an Ethics Board within the Borough.
B. 
The Board shall consist of six members who are appointed by the governing body of the Borough.
C. 
The Board shall consist of at least two members who shall be public members. 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.
D. 
The members of the Municipal Ethics Board shall annually elect a Chairman from among the membership.
E. 
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.
F. 
Members of the 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 article.

§ 33-19 Office; expenses; employees.

A. 
The governing body of the municipality shall provide the Municipal 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 Municipal Ethics 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 Municipal Ethics Board may appoint employees, including independent counsel, and clerical staff as are necessary to carry out the provisions of this article within the limits of funds appropriated by the municipal governing body for those purposes.

§ 33-20 Powers.

A Municipal 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 Municipal Code of Ethics or financial disclosure requirements by local government officers or employees serving the municipality.
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 County Prosecutor or the Attorney General or other governmental body any information concerning violations of the Municipal Code of Ethics or financial disclosure requirements by local government officers or employees serving the municipality 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 municipality 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 municipality and to impose penalties for the violation thereof as are authorized by this article.
F. 
To adopt rules and regulations and to do other things as are necessary to implement the purposes of this article.

§ 33-21 Advisory opinions.

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.

§ 33-22 Complaints to Board; notice; hearing; decision.

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 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 the Administrative Procedure Act (N.J.S.A. 52:14B-1 et seq.) of this act, 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. 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 article. A final decision of the Ethics Board may be appealed to the Local Finance Board within 30 days of the decision.

§ 33-23 Preservation of records.

All statements, complaints, requests or other written materials filed pursuant to this article, and any rulings, opinions, judgments, transcripts or other official papers prepared pursuant to this article shall be preserved for a period of at least five years from the date of filing or preparation, as the case may be.