Village of Dobbs Ferry, NY
Westchester County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Dobbs Ferry 2-8-2000 by L.L. No. 3-2000.[1] Amendments noted where applicable.]
[1]
This local law repealed the previous Village Code of Ethics, adopted 10-6-1970.
A. 
The goal of Village government is to provide fair, impartial, open and lawful administration of the Village, pursuant to the Code of Ethics of the Village, as defined below, and the General Municipal Law of the State of New York.
B. 
In order to accomplish this goal, it is necessary that the Village maintain and support its tradition of having Village residents serve as volunteer Village officials and that all Village officials or employees, as those terms are defined below, whether volunteer or paid or elected:
(1) 
Be independent, impartial and responsible to the residents of the Village.
(2) 
Observe the highest standards of conduct in their official acts and discharge faithfully the duties of their office regardless of personal consideration so that the public shall have the highest regard for the integrity of its government and its Village officers or employees.
(3) 
Make government decisions in the proper channels of government in an open and nonsecretive manner.
C. 
In recognition of this goal, there is hereby established a Code of Ethics which is based upon the Municipal Ethics Act for New York State Municipalities, dated December 1988, and recommended by the State of New York Commission on Government Integrity. Although this Code of Ethics deviates in various sections from the Municipal Ethics Act for New York State Municipalities, the studies and reports published by the Commission on Government Integrity will provide guidance as to the origin and interpretation of this chapter. In the event of any conflict between the provisions of this chapter and the provisions of the General Municipal Law of the State of New York, the latter shall control.
When used in this Code of Ethics, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
AGENCY
Any office, board, body, advisory board, council, commission, agency, department, district, administration, division, bureau or committee of the Village.
APPEAR and APPEAR BEFORE
Communicate in whatever form, whether personally or through another person.
A. 
Having or providing any contract, service or work with the Village;
B. 
Buying, selling, renting, leasing or otherwise acquiring from or dispensing to the Village any goods, services or property; or
C. 
Applying for, petitioning, requesting or obtaining any approval, grant, loan, license, permit or other privilege from the Village.
DISCRETIONARY ACT
Any action involving the exercise of judgment or discretion by a Village officer or employee, either individually or as a member of any agency, and includes but is not limited to negotiation, approval, advice, recommendation, authorization or audit.
FAMILY MEMBER
A spouse, child, stepchild, brother, sister, parent or dependent of a Village officer or employee, as defined below.
MINISTERIAL ACT
An action performed in a prescribed manner without the exercise of judgment or discretion as to the propriety of the act.
PARTICULAR MATTER
Any business dealing with the Village, or any application for such business, or any case, proceeding, determination, investigation, charge, accusation or arrest, or any other matter involving a discretionary act of a Village officer or employee, but does not include the proposal, consideration or enactment of local laws, ordinances or regulations of general application.
SPOUSE
A husband or wife from whom the Village officer or employee is not legally separated.
VILLAGE
The Village of Dobbs Ferry and all agencies thereof.
VILLAGE OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE
Any officer or employee of the Village, whether paid or unpaid, except that no person shall be deemed to be a "Village officer or employee" solely by reason of being a judge, justice, officer or employee of the unified court system, or a volunteer fireman or auxiliary policeman, or a member of or counsel to a board, committee or commission other than the Board of Trustees, the Planning Board, the Architectural Review Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals.
A. 
No Village officer or employee shall:
(1) 
Act as attorney, agent, broker, employee, consultant or representative for any person in connection with any business dealing that said person has with the Village.
(2) 
Directly or indirectly solicit, accept or agree to accept any gift from any person, other than a family member. However, a Village officer or employee may accept or agree to accept a gift or gifts which would otherwise be prohibited which are customary on family, social, holiday or civic occasions, provided that they were not received under circumstances in which it reasonably might be inferred that such gift or gifts were intended to influence the Village officer or employee in the performance of his or her official duties or reward him or her for any official action. A "gift" shall include money, services, loans, travel, entertainment, hospitality, things or promises thereof or any other gratuity or promise thereof, including any financial transaction on terms not available to the general public, but shall not include a campaign contribution.
(3) 
Take or refrain from taking any discretionary action, or agree to take or refrain from taking any discretionary action, or induce or attempt to induce any other Village employee to take or refrain from taking any discretionary action on any matter before the Village in order to obtain a pecuniary or material benefit for:
(a) 
Himself or herself.
(b) 
A family member.
(c) 
Any partnership or unincorporated association of which the Village officer or employee is a member or employee or in which he or she has a proprietary interest.
(d) 
Any corporation of which the Village officer or employee is an officer or director or of which he or she legally or beneficially owns or controls more than 5% of the outstanding stock.
(e) 
Any person or entity with whom the Village officer or employee or his or her family member has an employment, professional, business or financial relationship.
[Amended 1-23-2018 by L.L. No. 1-2018]
(f) 
Any person or entity from whom the Village officer or employee or his or her spouse has received, within any twelve-month period during the previous 24 months, a pecuniary or material benefit having an aggregate value greater than $2,000.
[Amended 1-23-2018 by L.L. No. 1-2018]
(4) 
Appear before the Village, except on behalf of the Village or on his or her own behalf.
(5) 
Appear as attorney or counsel against the interests of the Village in any matter in which the Village is a party or a complainant.
(6) 
After termination of his or her term of office or employment with the Village, appear before the Village or receive compensation for services rendered on behalf of any person other than the Village in relation to any particular matter upon which he or she took any action or that came before him or her during his or her term of office or employment with the Village.
(7) 
During his or her term of office or employment with the Village, solicit, negotiate for or accept any employment from which he or she would be disqualified under Subsection A(6).
B. 
Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, members of the Village Board of Trustees and all paid Village employees, including the Village Attorney, are prohibited from serving as a chairperson, district leader or officer for any partisan political party which engages in political campaigning or electioneering within the Village.
C. 
No partnership or unincorporated association of which a Village officer or employee is a member or employee or in which he or she has a proprietary interest, nor any corporation of which he or she is an officer or director or of which he or she legally or beneficially owns or controls more than 5% of the outstanding stock, shall appear before the Village on behalf of any person other than the Village itself.
D. 
Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit a Village officer or employee or any other person from receiving a Village service or benefit or using a Village facility which is generally available to residents or a class of residents in the Village.
E. 
Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit any Village officer or employee listed in § 11 of the Domestic Relations Law from accepting any gift or benefit having a value of $100 or less for the solemnization of a marriage by that Village officer or employee.
F. 
Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit a Village officer or employee from performing any ministerial act.
G. 
Should the Village Ethics Board, defined below, conclude in a written opinion that a contract has been entered by or with the Village which results in or from a violation of this section, the Board of Trustees may elect to void that contract.
A. 
Whenever a Village officer or employee is requested or required to take any action on a matter before the Village and, to his or her knowledge, either the performance or nonperformance of that action would provide a pecuniary or material benefit to himself or herself or to any related person different from that which would be derived from the action by reason of its general application to a broad class of persons deriving such benefit, the Village officer or employee shall not participate in that matter. The Village officer or employee also shall file promptly with his or her immediate supervisor, if any, and with the Village Clerk a signed statement disclosing the nature and extent of that interest.
B. 
Definitions. For purposes of this section, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
RELATED PERSON — 
(1) 
A family member.
(2) 
Any corporation of which the Village officer or employee is an officer or director or of which he or she legally or beneficially owns or controls more than 5% of the outstanding stock.
(3) 
Any person or entity with whom the Village officer or employee or his or her family member has an employment, professional, business or financial relationship.
[Amended 1-23-2018 by L.L. No. 1-2018]
(4) 
Any person or entity from whom the Village officer or employee, or his or her spouse, has received, within any twelve-month period during the previous 24 months, a pecuniary or material benefit having an aggregate value greater than $2,000.
[Amended 1-23-2018 by L.L. No. 1-2018]
(5) 
Any partnership or unincorporated association of which the Village officer or employee is a member or in which he or she has a proprietary interest.
[Added 1-23-2018 by L.L. No. 1-2018]
C. 
Whenever a vote is required from which the Village officer or employee must recuse himself or herself under this section, such recusal shall not be counted for the purpose of determining whether a majority or other ratio required by law to pass a measure has been reached; provided, however, that no action may be taken by a body unless a majority of all of the members appointed or elected to such body votes on the matter. If a body is reduced below such majority by reason of a recusal required pursuant to this section, any member of such body may apply to the Village Ethics Board for a waiver of the recusal of this section.
D. 
Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit a Village officer or employee from performing any ministerial act or to require a Village officer or employee to file a disclosure statement pursuant to this section prior to performing any ministerial act.
Transactional disclosure statements filed pursuant to § 40-4 of this chapter shall be public records and shall be indexed and maintained on file in an appropriate manner by the Village Clerk. The Village Clerk promptly shall transmit a copy of all disclosure statements to the Village Ethics Board, Mayor and Board of Trustees. The Village Clerk shall retain disclosure statements for not less than seven years from the date of filing.
A. 
Definitions. For purposes of this section, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
APPLICANT
Any person making a submission.
SUBMISSION
Any written application, petition, bid, proposal or other request concerning a business dealing with the Village which has a value or cost to the Village of $5,000 or more but shall not include an application to be considered for eligibility to apply for or bid on any business dealing.
B. 
For purposes of this section, a campaign contribution shall be considered to have been made to the Village officer or employee if such contribution is made to any committee soliciting or receiving funds for the purpose of supporting the candidate, except that a contribution to a statewide political party shall not be considered a contribution to a candidate unless it is earmarked for use for a specific candidate. Where contributions are made to committees which support more than one candidate, the contribution shall be considered to have been spent equally on all the candidates, and only the amount attributable to a particular candidate shall be considered for disclosure purposes under this section, unless the contribution to the committee was earmarked for use for a particular candidate or candidates, in which case the entire contribution shall be attributable to that candidate or equally to those candidates, or as specified by the contributor. For purposes of this section, a loan to a candidate or campaign committee shall be considered a campaign contribution.
C. 
Any person who makes a submission to the Village shall disclose, in writing, as part of the submission:
(1) 
The name of any Village officer or employee to whom the applicant has made one or more campaign contributions totaling $250 or more within any twelve-month period during the previous 60 months.
(2) 
The name of any Village officer or employee who, to the applicant's knowledge, has an interest in the submission or in the applicant and is required to take any discretionary act on the submission. The applicant also shall identify in the submission the nature of the interest.
D. 
For purposes of this section, the Village officer or employee shall be deemed to have an interest in the submission or in the applicant when the Village officer or employee or his or her spouse:
(1) 
Is the applicant;
(2) 
Is a family member of the applicant;
(3) 
Is an officer or director of or legally or beneficially owns or controls more than 5% of the outstanding stock of the applicant;
(4) 
Has or, to the applicant's knowledge, intends to enter into an employment, professional, business or financial relationship with the applicant or any principal of the applicant;
(5) 
Has received from the applicant, within any twelve-month period during the previous 24 months, a pecuniary or material benefit having an aggregate value greater than $2,000; or
(6) 
Will receive, pursuant to an agreement between the applicant and any person, a pecuniary or material benefit if the Village's disposition of the submission is favorable to the applicant.
A. 
A bipartisan Village Ethics Board consisting of five members who are residents of the Village is hereby established. The members of the Board shall be appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the Board of Trustees. One member of the Board shall be an elected or appointed Village of Dobbs Ferry officer or employee. Appointments shall be made initially for terms of one, two, three, four and five years, with every appointment thereafter for a term of five years.
B. 
The Village Ethics Board shall adopt rules and regulations as to forms and procedures and shall at all times maintain appropriate records of its opinions and proceedings.
A. 
No member of the Village Ethics Board shall hold office in any political party or be employed as a lobbyist before the Village. A Board member may make campaign contributions but may not participate in any Village election campaign, other than his or her own.
B. 
No more than two members of the Village Ethics Board may be members of the same political party. For purposes of this section, "political party" shall mean any political party which appears on the ballot for statewide elected office or which exists in the Village.
A. 
A member of the Village Ethics Board may be removed by the Mayor with the advice and consent of the Board of Trustees.
B. 
Grounds for removal of a member or members of the Village Ethics Board shall be substantial neglect of duty, misconduct in office, inability to discharge the powers or duties of office, or violation of this Village Ethics Code, after written notice and opportunity for reply.
A. 
At the first meeting of the Village Ethics Board each year, it shall elect a Chairperson from among its membership. A quorum of the Village Ethics Board shall be necessary for the Board to vote upon any matter. A quorum shall consist of no fewer than three members of the Board. A vote of a majority of the members of the Village Ethics Board constituting a quorum shall be required for the Board to take any action. The Chair or any three members may call a meeting of the Board.
B. 
The Board may hold as many meetings per year as it deems necessary or as shall be called by the Chair or any three members, provided that a meeting of the Board shall be held promptly after the filing of a complaint alleging a violation of this chapter, at which meeting such complaint shall be considered by the Board as well as any other matters before it.
A. 
The Village Ethics Board may act only with respect to Village officers and employees.
B. 
The termination of a Village officer's or employee's term of office or employment with the Village shall not affect the jurisdiction of the Board with respect to the requirements that this chapter imposes on the former Village officer or employee.
C. 
The Village Ethics Board shall have the following powers and duties:
(1) 
To prescribe and promote rules and regulations governing its own internal organization and procedures in a manner consistent with this chapter.
(2) 
To conduct investigations pursuant to § 40-12 of this chapter.
(3) 
To conduct hearings and recommend disciplinary action for violations of this chapter.
(4) 
To grant waivers of the recusal requirements under the circumstances described in § 40-4C of this chapter, upon written application and upon a showing of compelling need by the applicant. Waivers shall be in writing and shall state the grounds upon which they are granted.
(5) 
To render advisory opinions with respect to the interpretation or application of this chapter, upon written request by any agency, individual Village officer or employee, or any applicant as defined in § 40-6A of this chapter.
(6) 
To review all transactional disclosure statements. If the Board determines that a statement is deficient or reveals a possible or potential violation of the Code of Ethics, it shall notify the person, in writing, of the deficiency or possible or potential violation and of the penalty for failure to comply with this chapter.
(7) 
To provide training and education to Village officers and employees and to make information concerning this chapter available to all Village officers and employees, to the public and to any person who is interested in doing business with the Village.
(8) 
To prepare an annual report and recommend changes to this chapter, if any.
A. 
Upon receipt of a sworn complaint by any person alleging a violation of this chapter, or upon determining on its own initiative that a violation of this chapter may exist, the Village Ethics Board shall have the power and duty to conduct any investigation necessary to carry out the provisions of this chapter. In conducting any such investigation, the Village Ethics Board shall notify the subject or subjects investigated, in writing, of the allegation, may administer oaths or affirmations, call witnesses and request the production of books and records which it may deem relevant. The subject or subjects have a right to submit a written response during the investigation by the Village Ethics Board.
B. 
If after an investigation is conducted the Village Ethics Board determines that charges are warranted, a private hearing will be conducted by said Board. The subject or subjects of the charges have a right to submit a written response and/or appear before the Village Ethics Board with or without counsel in a private hearing to question witnesses or challenge documentary evidence that may be considered by the Village Ethics Board and to give any testimony or evidence on behalf of the subject or subjects.
C. 
Nothing herein shall be construed to permit the Village Ethics Board to conduct an investigation of itself or any of its members. Should the Village Ethics Board receive a sworn complaint alleging that the Village Ethics Board or any of its members has violated any provisions of this chapter or any other law, it shall promptly transmit a copy of the complaint to the Mayor and Board of Trustees, who shall investigate the complaint and take appropriate remedial action should the results of their investigation so warrant. Any individual on the Village Ethics Board who is investigated will be entitled to the same protections afforded all subjects pursuant to § 40-12B.
D. 
Subject to the requirements of § 40-12B, the Village Ethics Board shall advise the relevant appointing authority of the disposition of every sworn complaint that it receives and of every related investigation that it conducts and shall set forth its related findings, opinions and recommendations.
E. 
The Village Ethics Board shall, with respect to every complaint that it receives and all related deliberations, findings, opinions, recommendations and dispositions thereof:
(1) 
Hold all such matters in confidence and not publicly reveal them to the fullest extent allowable by applicable law, including the New York State Freedom of Information Law, as it may be amended.
(2) 
Meet only in executive session, closed to the public, to the fullest extent allowed by the New York State Open Meetings Law, as it may be amended.
(3) 
Render a written confidential report of its findings, opinions and recommendations, which report will be provided to the subject of the investigation.
Any Village officer or employee who engages in any action that violates any provision of this chapter may be warned or reprimanded or suspended or removed from office or employment, or be subject to any other sanction authorized by law or collective bargaining agreement, by the appointing authority or person or body authorized by law to impose such sanctions. A warning, reprimand, suspension, removal or other authorized sanction may be imposed in addition to any other applicable penalty contained in any other provision of law. The appointing authority or person authorized by law to impose the sanctions described in this section shall be guided by the requirements of § 40-12.
The Village Clerk or designee shall cause copies of this chapter to be distributed to every Village officer and employee and shall make a written record of same to be filed in the Village records. He or she shall also make copies readily available to the public. Every Village officer or employee elected, appointed or hired thereafter shall be delivered a copy of this chapter within 10 days after entering upon the duties of his or her position. Failure to have been delivered a copy of this chapter shall have no effect on the duty of compliance or the enforcement of this chapter.
This chapter shall take effect April 15, 2000.