[HISTORY: Adopted Borough of Rutherford Council 9-4-1974 by Ord. No. 2154-74. Amendments noted where applicable.]
All representatives of the Borough of Rutherford occupy positions of public trust and must discharge their duties in the sole interest of the public for whom they act and to whom they are accountable.
It is the intent of this chapter to establish a set of guidelines and procedures for public officers and employees which will serve the individuals affected and the citizens of the Borough of Rutherford by helping to ensure that such officers and employees, neither deliberately nor inadvertently, will deviate from their public duties because of any financial or personal conflicting interest. Actual, potential and apparent conflicts of interest are all within the intention of this legislation, and public officers and employees must be as rigorous in operating free of apparent conflicts as of real conflicts. Only thus may true confidence be earned and maintained.
It is not the purpose of this chapter to create universal suspicion, and thereby universal distrust, for the activities of public officers and employees. Not every remote interest requires a public officer or employee to disqualify himself from acting with respect to a particular situation. Where doubt exists, disclosure should be made so that advice of counsel or of the Mayor and Council may be obtained. A sense of balance consonant with the beneficial public purposes sought to be achieved is needed in the interpretation and enforcement of the legislation.
This chapter shall apply to all public officers and employees of the Borough of Rutherford except as may be otherwise provided by the laws of the State of New Jersey.
In this chapter, unless the context otherwise provides, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- All persons who are not public officers, who are employed on a full-time, part-time or contract basis by the Borough of Rutherford.
- PUBLIC OFFICER
- All elected and appointed representatives of the Borough of Rutherford, including all members of boards or commissioners as established by ordinance, resolution or statute, except as may be otherwise provided for by the statutes of the State of New Jersey. This code does not include the Board of Education or employees thereof.
- The spouse, children, sibling or any relative of such person by blood or marriage in the first degree of kinship.
- SUBSTANTIAL INTEREST
- Any employment, investment or other association or activity which yields or may yield, directly or indirectly, a monetary or other material benefit, or any personal interest arising from blood or marriage relationships or from close business or personal association, whether or not any financial interest is involved.
Any public officer or employee of the Borough of Rutherford who has a substantial interest in any contract, sale, purchase or service to the Borough of Rutherford or a contract supplying the Borough of Rutherford shall make known that interest in the official record of the Borough of Rutherford and shall refrain from voting upon or otherwise participating in any manner as an officer or employee in such contract, sale or purchase.
Any public officer or employee who has a substantial interest in any decision of, or matter under review by any board, administrative official, commission or legislative or administrative body of which he is a member or to which he makes recommendations, shall make known such interest in the official records of such body and shall refrain from participating in any manner as an officer or employee in such decision or matter under review.
No public officer or employee shall knowingly engage in any business or transaction, accept private employment, or have any financial or other personal interest, direct or indirect, which is incompatible with the proper discharge of his official duties in the public interest or would tend to impair his independence of judgment or actions in the performance of his official duties.
No public officer or employee shall, without proper legal authorization, disclose confidential information concerning the property, government or affairs of the Borough of Rutherford to any other person, nor shall he use such information to advance his financial or other private interests of his own or his relatives.
No public officer or employee shall knowingly accept any gift or gratuity, whether in the form of service, loan or promise, or in any other form, from any person, firm or corporation which to his knowledge is interested, directly or indirectly, in any manner whatsoever in business dealings in or with the Borough of Rutherford; nor shall any official or employee accept from any person, firm or corporation any such gift or gratuity which may tend to influence him in the discharge of his duties.
No public officer or employee shall request, use or permit the use of any consideration, treatment, advantage or favor beyond that which it is the general practice to grant or make available to the public at large.
No public officer or employee shall request, use or permit the use of any publicly owned property, vehicle, equipment, material, labor or service for the personal convenience or the private advantage of himself or any other person, except if such use is in the conduct of official business of the borough.
The prohibitions enumerated in Subsections A and B above do not prohibit the Borough Council, its boards or commissions, acting in their official capacity, from granting special consideration, treatment, advantage, favor or use of public property to selected individuals or groups of individuals where it is in the public interest to grant such special privileges.
In the event that any official or employee of the borough does not comply with the standards as set forth in this chapter, a charge may be instituted by the Borough Council or any individual when he has knowledge or information indicating that a violation exists. Such charge or charges shall be in writing under oath and shall be signed by the person making the charge and shall contain a clear and concise statement of the facts alleged to constitute such violation.
The Borough Council shall then hold an informal hearing no later than 15 days after the charge in order to determine if a formal hearing is necessary. At the informal hearing a majority vote by the Council is sufficient to justify a formal hearing on the charge.
In the event that a formal hearing is necessary, the governing body shall promptly set a date for such formal hearing of the charges and shall serve a copy of the charges on the accused and shall advise him in writing of the date and place of such hearing at least 10 days prior to such hearing. Such hearing shall not be public unless requested by the accused official.
At such hearing, charges shall be presented and evidence in support thereof shall be received and the accused shall be offered an opportunity either personally or by counsel, to cross-examine the accusor and to present evidence on his own behalf. In the event that the accused shall be a member of the governing body, said accused shall not take any part in the deliberations with respect to the formal hearing or determination thereof.
Decision. As soon as practicable after conclusion of the formal hearing, but not later than 30 days, the governing body shall render a written decision on the charges and shall mail a copy thereof to the accused and file a copy with the Borough Clerk. In order to find the accused in violation of the ordinance, a unanimous decision is necessary or the charge will be dismissed.
Opinion. Upon the request of any official concerned, the Borough Council shall render an advisory opinion which will also be filed with the Borough Clerk. The Borough Council may, in its discretion, delete the name of the official requesting such advisory opinion.
In the event the Borough Council shall make a determination that the conduct of any official was improper, the governing body, based upon the written findings, conclusions and determinations, may institute appropriate action for public censure, or it may suspend or remove the official from office by such procedure as may be provided by law to effectuate the purposes of this chapter.
Any person filing charges shall not be exempt from the libel and slander laws of the State of New Jersey by reason of his filing thereof, nor shall any of said charges filed by an individual be considered as privileged under the libel and slander laws of the State of New Jersey. This information should be provided when the written charges are first presented to the Borough Clerk.
In the event that any action complained of has been approved by or has been taken pursuant to a state statute or local ordinance, or if said action has been approved by the courts of the State of New Jersey, then no charges of possible violation of this chapter shall be brought against any official or employee of the borough.
All ordinances or parts of ordinances inconsistent with the provisions of this chapter are hereby repealed as to such inconsistency.
This chapter shall take effect after final passage and publication in the manner provided by law.