[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Cornwall 7-12-1993 by L.L. No. 2-1993. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The Town Board of the Town of Cornwall recognizes that there are rules of ethical conduct for public officers and employees which must be observed if a high degree of moral conduct is to be obtained and if public confidence is to be maintained in our unit of local government. The proper operation of the town government requires that its officers and employees be independent, impartial, objective, unbiased and responsible to the people of the Town of Cornwall; that public office not be used for personal gain; that public officers and employees maintain the highest standards of integrity and discharge faithfully the duties of their office, regardless of personal considerations; and that the public have confidence in the officers and employees thereof. It is the purpose of this chapter to implement these objectives through the establishment of standards of conduct, to provide for punishment of violations of such standards and to create a Board of Ethics to render advisory opinions to the town's officers and employees as provided for herein.
The standards, prohibitive acts and procedures established herein are in addition to any prohibitive acts, conflicts of interest provisions or procedures prescribed by statute of the State of New York and also in addition to common law rules and judicial decisions relating to the conduct of town officers to the extent that the same are more severe in their application than this chapter.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- IMMEDIATE FAMILY MEMBER
- A spouse, minor child or other dependent or relative residing in the household of a town officer or employee.
- Any claim, account or demand against or in agreement with the town, express or implied, including designation of a depository of public funds and the designation of an official newspaper, and direct or indirect pecuniary or material benefit accruing to an officer or employee as a result of a business or professional transaction with the town. For the purposes of this chapter, an officer or employee shall be deemed to have a direct interest in the affairs of:
- A. His spouse, minor children and dependents.
- B. A business concern, partnership or association of which such officer or employee is a member, partner, owner, director or employee.
- C. A corporation of which such officer or employee is an officer, director or employee.
- D. A corporation, any stock of which is owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by such officer or employee.
- The Town of Cornwall or any of its boards, commissions or agencies, whether operated or funded solely by the Town of Cornwall or jointly with one or more other municipalities.
- TOWN BOARD MEMBER OR TOWN EMPLOYEE
- Any elected or appointed officer or any employee of the town, whether paid or not, including members of any administrative advisory board, commission or other agency thereof. For the purpose of this chapter, no person shall be deemed a town officer or employee solely by reason of being a volunteer fireman or civil defense volunteer or being employed by the town as a result of a contractual agreement.
- TOWN CONSULTANT
- Any individual, group or firm which renders services on behalf of the town to any town officer, Town Board, Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals or any other town agency or commission.
No town officer, Town Board member, town employee or town consultant shall have any interest, financial or otherwise, direct or indirect, or engage in any business or transaction or professional activity or incur any obligation of any nature, which is in conflict with or might reasonably tend to conflict with the proper discharge of his duties in the public interest.
No Town Board member, town officer, town employee or town consultant shall accept other employment which will impair his independence of judgment in the exercise of his official town duties.
No town officer, Town Board member or town employee shall engage in, solicit, negotiate for or promise to accept private employment or render services for private interests when such employment or service creates a conflict with or impairs the proper discharge of his official duties.
Disclosure of confidential information.
No town officer, Town Board member or town employee of the town shall disclose confidential information acquired by him in the course of his official duties or use such information to further his personal interests or the private interests of others.
No Town Board member, town officer, town employee or town consultant shall accept employment or engage in a business or professional activity which will require him to disclose confidential information gained by reason of his official position or authority.
Misuse of authority. No Town Board member, town officer, town employee or town consultant shall use or attempt to use his official position to secure unwarranted privileges or exemptions for himself or others.
Misuse of privilege. No Town Board member, town officer, town employee or town consultant shall by his conduct give reasonable basis for the impression that another can improperly influence him or unduly enjoy his favor in the performance of his official duties or that he is affected by kinship, rank, position or influence of any party or person.
Compensation. No town officer, Town Board member, town employee or town consultant shall receive compensation or enter into any agreement to receive compensation, express or implied, with respect to any matter which is, was or will be before the town for determination in the official capacity of any town officer, Town Board member or town employee of the Town of Cornwall. In addition, no town officer, Town Board member, town employee or town consultant of the Town of Cornwall shall receive compensation or enter into any agreement, express or implied, to receive compensation in relation to any matter before any municipal agency, department, Board or commission, except as a part of the official responsibilities of the members of the agency, department, Board or commission, or as a function of the official position of the town officer, Town Board member, employee or town consultant.
Gifts. No Town Board member, town officer, town employee or town consultant shall accept any gifts or gratuities in any way relating to his official duties. The recipient of any such gift or gratuity shall immediately return the same to the giver and shall notify the Town of Cornwall Board of Ethics, in writing, of any such incident.
No town officer, Town Board members, town employee or town consultants of the Town of Cornwall shall invest or hold any investment, directly or indirectly, in any financial, business, commercial or other private transaction, which creates a conflict with his official duties.
No town officer, Town Board member, town employee or town consultant shall engage in any enterprises which he has reason to believe may be directly involved in decisions to be made or advice to be given by him or which will otherwise create substantial conflict between his duty and the public interest and his private interest.
No Town Board member, town officer or town employee shall, within two years after the termination of his service, accept employment which will require appearances before any Board, agency or commission of the Town of Cornwall or conduct any official town business, transactions or professional activity with any town officer, Town Board member or town employee where special advantages by virtue of prior contact and relationship with the town may be realized.
No Town Board member, town officer, town employee or town consultant shall appear before any Board, agency or commission of the Town of Cornwall in relation to any case, proceeding or application in which he was directly concerned and personally participated or which was under his active consideration during the period of his service or employment.
Discrimination. No town officer, Town Board member or town employee of the town or of any service or other organization chartered by or directly or indirectly sponsored or supported by the town shall:
Discriminate or cause involuntary segregation, directly or indirectly, based upon creed, color, national origin, sex or disability or allow the preceding to be factors affecting the recruitment, selection, placement, assignment, compensation or promotion of any town officer, Town Board member, town employee or member of such service or other organization.
Permit, directly or indirectly, the use of any town property, equipment or services by any person or persons, organizations, corporations or any other group which directly or indirectly discriminates as set forth in Subsection I(1) above.
Representation by consultant. No town consultant shall appear on behalf of private interests before the Town Board or any other Board, commission or agency of the Town of Cornwall or actively employed by the town.
Political activity. No town officer, Town Board member or town employee shall use his official position on behalf of any political party, club, association, society or committee. In addition, no appointed town officer or own employee shall hold office in any political party, club, association, society or committee. This provision shall not be interpreted or construed as precluding any town officer, Town Board member or town employee from being involved in the political affairs of the Town of Cornwall as a private citizen, nor shall it exempt any town officer, Town Board member or town employee from any federal, state or local rules, regulations, codes of conduct or other restrictions imposed by chapter.
All elected and appointed officers, Board members, department heads and their assistants and all town consultants are required, within 30 days of taking office or within 30 days of the effective date of this chapter, to file a disclosure statement, in writing, to the Town Clerk, disclosing all land holdings in the unincorporated area of the Town of Cornwall and all land holdings in the incorporated area of any village within the Town of Cornwall, whether held personally, by a spouse, by a dependent, jointly with a spouse or dependent, jointly in partnership with others, as a partnership, limited partnership, corporation, trust or any other similar entity the name of any partnership, corporation or trust of which he or his spouse or dependent is an officer, director or employee or which he or a spouse or a dependent, legally or beneficially, owns or controls more than 5% of the outstanding stock or interest, and his position, and his spouse or dependent's position, if any, with the partnership, corporation or trust.
In the event that a change occurs with respect to any of the information required on the aforesaid confidential disclosure statement, the party required to file such a statement shall file an amended statement reflecting any such change in circumstances within 30 days from the date thereof, unless requested by the Board of Ethics to do so sooner, in which case such amended statement shall be filed within 10 days of the request for the same. Failure to file the required disclosure statement in a timely fashion shall be deemed a violation of this chapter.
If any Town Board member, town officer, town employee or town consultant has a potential or actual conflict of interest in any matter which he encounters in the performance of his official town duties, he shall make known to all concerned parties the nature of such conflict and shall refrain from any participation whatsoever in the matter so as to avoid true conflict. In all cases of potential or actual conflict, the Town Board shall be made aware of the situation by the person in conflict along with any other concerned parties, including the Town of Cornwall Board of Ethics.
There is hereby established a Board of Ethics consisting of five members, one of whom shall be a town officer or employee and a majority of whom shall be persons other than town officers or employees. All members shall reside in the Town of Cornwall and shall serve without compensation.
All members of the Ethics Board shall be appointed by the Town Board for a term of five years, each term to expire at the end of the town's official year; except that of those first appointed, one shall be appointed for a term of five years, one for a term of four years, one for a term of three years, one for a term of two years and one for a term of one year.
The Town Attorney shall provide such legal and advisory services to the Board of Ethics as it may require in the performance of its duties.
At its first meeting each year, which shall be a public meeting, the Town Board of Ethics shall elect a Chairman from among its membership. A vote of at least three members shall be required for the Board to take any action. The Board shall meet at least twice a year and at such times as it may otherwise be necessary. The Chairman or any three members may call a meeting of the Board.
The Board of Ethics shall have the following powers and duties:
To prescribe and promulgate rules and regulations governing its own organization and procedures in a manner consistent with this code.
To render advisory opinions, upon written request to any Board, department, town officer, Town Board member, town consultant or town employee with respect to the interpretation or application of any provision of this code. Opinions and requests for opinions shall be public record and shall be indexed and maintained on file in an appropriate manner by the Town Board of Ethics.
To prepare an annual report to the Town Board, summarizing the activities of the Ethics Board, and recommend changes to this code, as necessary.
To conduct investigations and recommend appropriate sanctions of alleged violations of this code upon written notification of such alleged violation by the Town Board of the Town of Cornwall.
To refer any matter within its jurisdiction to the County or State Ethics Board, as may be appropriate.
In addition to any penalty contained in any other provision of law, any town officer, Town Board member, town employee or town consultant who shall knowingly and intentionally violate any of the provisions of this code may be fined, reprimanded, suspended or removed from office or employment in the manner provided by law.
The Town Clerk shall cause a copy of Article 18 of the General Municipal Law and this Code of Ethics to be distributed to every town officer, Town Board member, town employee and town consultant within 15 days of the effective date of this chapter. In addition, every such town employee, Town Board member, town officer or town consultant shall receive a copy of the same upon being engaged in or taking office in the Town of Cornwall. Failure to distribute any such copy or failure of any Town Board member, town officer, town employee or town consultant to receive such copy shall have no effect on the duty of compliance with this code or the enforcement of provisions hereof. The Town Supervisor shall further cause a copy of this chapter to be kept posted conspicuously in each public building under the jurisdiction of the town. Failure to so post this chapter shall have no effect on the duty of compliance herewith or the enforcement of provisions hereof.
Within 30 days of the adoption of this chapter, the Town Clerk shall file a copy thereof with the Temporary State Commission on Local Government Ethics as established pursuant to § 813 of the General Municipal Law.
The Town Board may appropriate moneys from the general town funds for the maintenance of and personal services to the Board of Ethics established hereunder, but such Board of Ethics may not commit the expenditure of town moneys except within the appropriations provided herein.
If any clause, sentence, paragraph, word or section or part of this Town Code of Ethics shall be adjudged by any court of competent jurisdiction to be unconstitutional, illegal or invalid, such judgment shall not effect, impair or invalidate the remainder thereof but shall be confined in its operation to the clause, sentence, paragraph, word, section or part thereof directly involved in the controversy in which such judgment shall have been rendered.