[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Emerson 6-10-1975 by Ord. No. 643 (appeared as Chapter 34 of the 1966 Code of the Borough of Emerson). Amendments noted where applicable.]
Successful implementation of democratic government necessitates that public officials be impartial, independent and completely responsible to the people; that government policy and decisions be made through proper departments of the Borough administration organization command; that public office not be used for personal gain; and that the public be guaranteed integrity in the government of Emerson. In recognition of these goals, there is hereby established a Code of Ethics for all officials and employees of the Borough of Emerson, whether elected or appointed, paid or unpaid. The purpose of this code is to establish ethical standards of conduct for all such officials and employees by setting forth those acts or actions that are incompatible with the best interests of the Borough of Emerson and by directing disclosure by such officials and employees of private and financial or other interests in matters affecting the Borough of Emerson. The provisions and purpose of this code and such rules and regulations as may be established are hereby declared to be in the best interests of the Borough of Emerson, New Jersey.
The terms used in this code are hereby defined as follows:
- FINANCIAL INTEREST
- Any interest which shall yield, directly or indirectly, a monetary or other material benefit, other than the duly authorized salary or compensation for his or her services to the Borough of Emerson, to the official or employee or to any person employing or retaining the services of the official or employee.
- The local governmental unit of the Borough of Emerson, in the Borough of Emerson, County of Bergen and State of New Jersey.
- OFFICIAL or EMPLOYEE
- Any person elected or appointed to, or employed or retained by, any public office or public body of the Borough of Emerson, County of Bergen, State of New Jersey, whether paid or unpaid and whether part-time or full-time.
- Any person, firm, association, group, partnership or corporation, or any combination thereof.
- PERSONAL INTEREST
- Any interest arising from blood or marriage relationships or from close business or political association, whether or not any financial interest is involved.
- PUBLIC BODY
- Any agency, board, body, commission, committee, department or office of the Borough of Emerson.
Public officials and employees are agents of public purpose and hold office for the benefit of the public. They are bound to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of this state and to carry out impartially the laws of the nation, state and municipality and, thus, to foster respect for all government. They are bound to observe, in their official acts, the highest standards of morality and to discharge faithfully the duties of their office, regardless of personal considerations, recognizing that the public interest must be their primary concern. Their conduct in their official affairs should be above reproach.
All officials and employees of the municipality should respect the governmental objectives expressed by the electorate and the programs developed to attain those objectives. Appointive officials and employees should adhere to the rules of work and performance established as the standard for their positions by the appropriate authority.
Officials and employees should not exceed their authority or breach the law or ask others to do so, and they should work in full cooperation with other public officials and employees unless prohibited from so doing by the law or by the officially recognized confidentiality or privilege of their work.
Use of public property. No official or employee shall request or permit the use of Borough-owned vehicles, equipment, materials or property for personal convenience or profit, except when such services are available to the public generally or are provided as municipal policy for the use of such official or employee in the conduct of official business.
Obligations to citizens. No official or employee shall grant any special consideration, treatment or advantage to any citizen beyond that which is available to every other citizen.
No Councilman or other official or employee, whether paid or unpaid, shall engage in any business or transaction or shall have a 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 action in the performance of his official duties. Specific conflicts of interest include but are not limited to those enumerated below for the guidance of officials and employees:
Incompatible employment. No Councilman or other official or employee shall engage in or accept personal employment or render services for private interests when such employment or service is incompatible with the proper discharge of his official duties or would tend to impair his independence of judgment or action in the performance of his official duties.
Gifts and favors. No Councilman or other official or employee shall accept any valuable gift, whether in the form of service, loan, thing or promise, from any person, firm or corporation which, to his knowledge, is interested, directly or indirectly, in any manner whatsoever, in business dealings with the Borough; nor shall any such official or employee accept any gift, favor or thing of value that may tend to influence him in the discharge of his duties or grant in the discharge of his duties any improper favor, service or thing of value.
Representing private interests before Borough agencies or courts.
No Councilman or other official or employee shall appear in behalf of interests other than his own, before any agency of the Borough. He shall not represent private interests in any action or proceeding against the interests of the Borough in any litigation to which the Borough is a party.
A Councilman may appear before Borough agencies on behalf of constituents in the course of his duties as a representative of the electorate or in the performance of public or civic obligations. However, no Councilman or other official or employee shall accept a retainer or compensation that is contingent upon a specific action by a Borough agency.
Contracts with the Borough.
Any Councilman or other official or employee of this Borough, in any matter on which he may be called upon to act in his official capacity, who has any interest, financial or otherwise, in a business entity, transaction or contract with the Borough or in the sale of real estate, materials, supplies or services to the Borough, shall make such interest and the nature of it known to the Council. In the event that the interest is substantial or controlling, he shall refrain from voting or otherwise participating in the transaction or the making of such contract or sale.
[Amended 8-12-1975 by Ord. No. 647]
A Councilman or other official or employee shall not be deemed interested in any contract or purchase or sale of land or other thing of value unless such contract or sale is proposed, approved, awarded, entered into or authorized by him in his official capacity.
Disclosure of interest in legislation. A Councilman who has a financial or other personal interest in any legislation shall disclose, on the records of the Council or other appropriate authority, the nature and extent of such interest. This provision shall not apply if the Councilman disqualifies himself from voting.
Any other official or employee who has a financial or other personal interest and who participates in discussion with or gives an official opinion to the Council or other municipal agency shall disclose, in the records of the Council or other appropriate authority, the nature and extent of such interest. Such employee or official shall not participate in a determination or voting by such public body, nor shall he issue any permits, certificates or other documentation implying or indicating Borough consent or approval in any such matter.
No official or employee, in the performance of his official duties, shall solicit business for an individual or company in which he has a personal or financial interest.
No official or employee, whether elected or appointed, shall promise appointment to any municipal position as a reward for any political activity.
No official or employee shall hire, appoint or retain any company or individual in which he has a financial or personal interest to any Borough position or function which will require payment of a salary or fee.
No official or employee shall, without prior written authorization of the public body having jurisdiction, disclose or use any confidential information concerning any other official or employee, or any other person, or any property or governmental affairs of the municipality.
There is hereby created and established a Board of Ethics, consisting of five persons, who shall hold no other office or employment under the municipality. At least one member shall have served a minimum of three years as an elected member of the governing body.
The members shall be appointed by the Mayor, subject to confirmation by a majority of the whole number of the governing body. They shall serve for a term of five years; provided, however, that those first appointed hereunder shall have terms expiring one, two, three, four and five years, respectively, from the date of commencement of their terms. Vacancies shall be filled for the unexpired terms.
The members shall elect a Chairman annually. The Board shall adopt rules for the conduct of the Board's business. The Board shall have the power to employ stenographic and clerical help and an attorney as needed.
Advisory opinions. Upon the written request of the officer or employee concerned, the Board shall render written advisory opinions based upon the provisions of this code. The Board shall file its advisory opinions with the Mayor and Council.
Hearings and determinations. Upon the sworn complaint of any person alleging facts which, if true, would constitute improper conduct under the provisions of this code, the Board shall conduct a public hearing in accordance with all of the requirements of due process of law and, in written findings of fact and conclusion based thereon, make a determination concerning the propriety of the conduct of the official or employee complained of.
Sanctions. In the event that the Board of Ethics shall, under the provisions of § 31-6, make a determination that the conduct of any official or employee was improper, the governing body, based upon the written findings, conclusions and determination of the Board of Ethics, shall institute action for censure, suspension or removal from office relating to said official or employee, or such other appropriate action as may be deemed necessary. This Code of Ethics in no way deprives the governing body from taking appropriate action according to law.