[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Cornwall-on-Hudson 11-19-2012 by L.L. No. 6-2012. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Editor's Note: This local also superseded former Ch. 12, Ethics, Code of, adopted 9-15-2008 by L.L. No. 2-2008.
The Cornwall-on-Hudson Village Board recognizes that there are rules of ethical conduct for public officers, employees and consultants that 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 Village government requires that officers and employees be independent, impartial, objective, unbiased and responsible to the people of the Village of Cornwall-on-Hudson; public office not be used for personal gain; public officers and employees maintain the highest standards of integrity and discharge faithfully the duties of their office, regardless of personal considerations; and the public has 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 Village's officers and employees as provided for herein.
The standards and prohibitive acts established herein are in addition to any prohibitive acts, conflicts of interest provisions 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 public officers to the extent that the same are more severe in their application than this chapter.
It is the policy of the Board of Trustees that all public officers, employees and consultants must avoid conflicts or potential conflicts of interest. A conflict exists whenever a public officer, employee or consultant has an interest, direct or indirect, that conflicts with his/her duty to the Village or which could adversely affect an individual's judgment in the discharge of his/her responsibilities.
A public officer, employee or consultant may not use his/her official position or office, to take or fail to take any action, in a manner which he/she knows or has reason to know may result in a personal financial benefit for any of the following persons:
Public officer, employee or consultant;
His/her outside employer or business;
A member of his/her household;
A customer or client;
A person from whom a Village Board member has received election campaign contributions of more than $1,000 in the aggregate during the past 12 months.
No public officer, employee or 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/her duties in the public interest.
No public officer, employee or consultant shall accept other employment that will impair his/her independence of judgment in the exercise of his/her official Village duties.
No public officer, employee or consultant 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/her official duties.
Disclosure of confidential information.
No public officer, employee or consultant shall disclose confidential information acquired by him/her in the course of his/her official duties or use such information to further his/her personal interests or the private interests of others.
No public officer, employee or consultant shall accept employment or engage in a business or professional activity that will require him/her to disclose confidential information gained by reason of his/her official position or authority.
Misuse of authority. No public officer, employee or consultant shall use or attempt to use his/her official position to secure unwarranted privileges or exemptions for themselves or others.
Misuse of privilege. No public officer, employee or consultant shall by his/her conduct give reasonable basis for the impression that another can improperly influence him/her or unduly enjoy his/her favor in the performance of his/her official duties or that he/she is affected by kinship, rank, position or influence of any party or person.
Compensation. No public officer, employee or consultant shall receive compensation or enter into any agreement to receive compensation, express or implied, with respect to any matter that is, was or will be before the Village for determination in the official capacity of any public officer or employee. In addition, no public officer, employee or consultant shall receive compensation or enter into any agreement, expressed 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 public officer or employee.
Gifts. No public officer, employee or consultant shall solicit, directly or indirectly, any gift or receive or accept any gift having the value of $100 or more, whether in the form of money, services, loan, travel, entertainment, hospitality, thing or promise, or in any other form, under circumstances in which it could be reasonably inferred that the gift was intended to influence him/her or could reasonably be expected to influence him/her in the performance of his/her official duties or was intended as a reward for any official action on his/her part. The recipient of any such gift or gratuity shall immediately return the same to the giver and shall notify the Board of Trustees in writing of any such incident.
No public officer, employee or consultant shall invest or hold any investment, directly or indirectly, in any financial, business, commercial or other private transaction, that creates a conflict with his official duties.
No public officer, employee or consultant shall engage in any enterprises that he/she has reason to believe may be directly involved in decisions to be made or advice to be given by him/her or that will otherwise create substantial conflict between his/her duty and the public interest and his/her private interest.
No public officer, employee or consultant, within two years after the termination of his/her service, accept employment that will require appearances before any board, agency or commission of the Village of Cornwall-on-Hudson or conduct any official Village business, transactions or professional activity with any public officer or employee where special advantages by virtue of prior contact and relationship with the Village may be realized.
No public officer, employee or consultant shall appear before any board, agency or commission of the Village of Cornwall-on-Hudson in relation to any case, proceeding or application in which he/she was directly concerned and personally participated or which was under his/her active consideration during the period of his/her service or employment.
Discrimination. No public officer, employee, consultant or member of any service or other organization chartered by or directly or indirectly sponsored or supported by the Village shall:
Discriminate or cause involuntary segregation, directly or indirectly, based upon creed, color, national origin, gender or disability or allow the preceding to be factors affecting the recruitment, selection, placement, assignment, compensation or promotion of any public officer or employee or member of such service or other organization.
Permit, directly or indirectly, the use of any Village property, equipment or services by any person or persons, organizations, corporations or any other group that directly or indirectly discriminates as set forth in Subsection B9(a) above.
Allow the Village knowingly to have any financial or business dealings with any organization that discriminates as set forth in Subsection B9(a) above.
Representation by consultant. No consultant shall appear on behalf of private interests before any board, commission or agency of the Village of Cornwall-on-Hudson or actively employed by the Village. Consultants cannot perform private work in the Village unless approved by the Village Board.
Political activity. No public officer, employee or consultant shall use his/her official position on behalf of any political party, club, association, society or committee. In addition, no public officer, employee or consultant shall chair any political party, club, association, society or committee. This provision shall not be interpreted or construed as precluding any public officer, employee or consultant from being involved in the political affairs of the Village of Cornwall-on-Hudson as a private citizen; it shall not exempt any public officer, employee or consultant from any federal, state or local rules, regulations, codes of conduct or other restrictions imposed by this chapter.
Contracts. No public officer, employee or consultant shall take action or participate in any manner whatsoever in his/her official capacity in the discussion, negotiation or awarding of any contract or in any business or professional dealings with the Village or any department thereof in which the public officer, employee or consultant has or will have an interest, direct or indirect, in such contract or professional dealings.
Official actions. No public officer, employee or consultant shall take action on a matter before the Village or any instrumentality thereof when, to his/her knowledge, the performance of that action would provide a pecuniary or material benefit to himself/herself.
Appearances. No public officer, employee or consultant shall appear before any board or department of the Village as a representative or on behalf of an applicant to said board or department for the purpose of influencing any action or proceeding, except on his/her own behalf or on behalf of the Village. This shall not, however, be construed to prohibit the making of comments to any board or department of the Village as a member of the general public.
Official position. No public officer, employee or consultant shall use his/her position or office, or take or fail to take any action, in a manner which he/she knows or has reason to know may result in a personal financial benefit to his/her relative, outside employer or business, customer or client.
Request for preferential treatment. No public officer, employee or consultant shall request of public officers or employees that any individual receive preferential consideration in connection with the provision of services or any appointment.
Village equipment. No public officer, employee or consultant shall request or permit the use of Village-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 a Village policy for the use of such public officer, employee or consultant in the conduct of official business or as otherwise permitted by prior written agreement or contractual language, copies of which shall be provided to the Board of Ethics upon request.
Recusal. A public officer, employee or consultant shall recuse himself/herself when faced with a conflict of interest.
Public officers, employees and consultants must file an annual disclosure statement with the Village Clerk. The Village Clerk shall mail a copy of the form to all reporting individuals on or before February 1 of each year. This statement shall be completed, signed and returned in a sealed envelope to the Village Clerk, on or before March 31 of each year.
Editor's Note: Said disclosure statement is included at the end of this chapter.
The Village Clerk shall additionally mail statements to new public officers, employees and consultants, who shall complete, sign and return the statements to the Village Clerk, on or before March 31 of the same calendar year in which they take office, become employed or
Serve, or within 60 days following the date on which they take office, are employed or serve, whichever is later.
The Village Clerk shall maintain the sealed envelopes containing the filed statements in a secure, lockable filing space at Village offices, which shall act as the repository of filed confidential statements for the Board of Ethics. The Village Clerk shall notify the chairperson of the Board of Ethics of the availability of the annual disclosure statements for review by the Board of Ethics.
If any change in the information provided in a statement occurs during the calendar year, the reporting individual shall file an amended statement within 60 days after the change occurs.
A person who is subject to the filing requirements of this chapter from more than one filing entity may satisfy the requirements by filing only one annual statement with the Village and filing with the other entity(ies), a notice that such filing has been made, inclusive of the date and place of the filing.
Any reporting individual may request, prior to March 25 of any year, an extension for the filing of an annual statement for an additional, specific period of time. Such request shall be made in writing to the Board of Trustees, with approval to be based upon substantiation of justifiable cause or undue hardship.
Public officers, employees and consultants are required to attest, on an annual basis, that they have reviewed the Code of Ethics, on or before March 31 of the year for which the office or employment is in effect. The Village Clerk shall disseminate attestation forms to all public officers, employees or consultants on or before February 1 of each year, and completed forms shall be returned to the Village Clerk.
If any public officer, employee or consultant has a conflict of interest in any matter that he/she encounters in the performance of his/her official Village duties, he/she 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 conflict, the Village Board shall be made aware of the situation by the person in conflict along with any other concerned parties, including the Board of Ethics.
Pursuant to the authority granted to the Village by the New York State Constitution and Municipal Home Rule Law §§ 10 and 22, it is the intent of the Board of Trustees to supersede, and this chapter hereby supersedes, inconsistent provisions of General Municipal Law § 808, relating to the composition of boards of ethics.
The Board of Ethics created by Local Law No. 2-2008 of the Village of Cornwall-on-Hudson is hereby continued. The Board of Ethics shall continue to be composed of three members appointed by the Board of Trustees. In addition, two alternate members shall be appointed by the Board of Trustees. The term "member" or "members" shall include members and alternate members.
No member shall be a public officer, employee or consultant. All members shall reside in the Village of Cornwall-on-Hudson and shall serve without compensation, but shall be entitled to reimbursement of reasonable expenses and for mileage, in accordance with rules established by the Board of Trustees. Members of the Board of Ethics shall be considered public officers, and subject to all provisions of this code.
All members shall be appointed for a term of three years, each term to expire at the end of the Village's official year. Members shall not serve more than two, consecutive, full three-year terms.
No member shall chair a political party or act as a lobbyist before the Village. A member may make campaign contributions but may not participate in any Village election campaign, other than his/her own. No person may serve on the Board of Ethics while holding other office in or being employed by the Village. No more than two members of the Board of Ethics may be members of the same political party.
At its first meeting each year, which shall be a public meeting, the Board of Ethics shall elect a chairperson from among its membership. A vote of at least two 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 chairperson or any two members may call a meeting of the Board. The Board has authority to and shall enter into executive sessions to discuss appropriate, allowable matters in accordance with the New York State Open Meetings Law.
Editor's Note: See Public Officers Law Art. 7.
The attorney for the Village shall provide such legal and advisory services to the Board of Ethics as it may require in the performance of its duties.
Members may be subject to removal by the Village Board of Trustees for neglect of duty, misconduct in office, failure to attend meetings, violating this chapter, inability to discharge the powers or duties of office in an unbiased manner, failure to maintain the confidentiality provisions of this law such as making or causing to make information about a pending inquiry, preliminary investigation or investigation public, after written notice by the Village Board and an opportunity for a reply within 30 days of the date of such notice.
If a vacancy shall occur otherwise than by expiration of a term, such as someone resigning or being removed by the Board or Village Board of Trustees, the Mayor shall appoint a new member for the unexpired term.
Alternate members would serve when members are absent or unable to participate on an application or matter before the Ethics Board. Two alternate members for the Ethics Board shall be appointed by the Board of Trustees for a term of three years. The chairperson of the Ethics Board may designate an alternate member to substitute for a member when such member is unable to participate on an application or matter before the Board. When so designated, the alternate member shall possess all the powers and responsibilities of such member of the Board. Such designation shall be entered into the minutes of the initial Ethics Board meeting at which the substitution is made. All provisions of state law relating to ethics board member Meligibility, vacancy in office and service on other boards, as well as any provisions of a local law relating to training, continuing education, compensation and attendance, shall also apply to alternate members.
The Board of Ethics shall have the following duties, responsibilities and powers:
To prescribe and promulgate rules and regulations governing its own organization and procedures in a manner consistent with this code subject to review and approval of the Village Trustees.
To render advisory opinions upon written request by any person required to file a disclosure form on his/her own activities 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 Board of Ethics.
To conduct investigations and recommend appropriate sanctions for alleged violations of this code to the Village Board after written notification of such alleged violation by the Village Board of the Village of Cornwall-on-Hudson.
Upon receipt of a sworn complaint by any person alleging a violation of this Code of Ethics or upon determining on its own initiative that a violation of this Code of Ethics may exist, the Board of Ethics shall notify the Board of Trustees of the alleged violation. The Board of Trustees may then request the Board of Ethics to conduct any investigation and/or hearing necessary to carry out the provisions of this code.
To provide training and education to public officers, employees or consultants and to make information concerning this Code of Ethics available to all public officers, employees and consultants, and to the public and to any person who is interested in doing business with the Village.
To review confidential disclosure statements pursuant to § 12-4 of this code. 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.
To prepare an annual report to the Village Board, summarizing the activities of the Board of Ethics, and recommending changes to this code, as necessary.
To refer any matter within its jurisdiction to the county or state ethics board, as may be appropriate.
Nothing herein shall be construed to permit the Board of Ethics to conduct an investigation of itself or any of its members. Should the Board of Ethics receive a sworn complaint alleging that the Board of Ethics or any of its members has violated any provisions of this Code of Ethics or any other law, it shall promptly transmit a copy of the complaint to the Mayor and the attorney for the Village who shall investigate the complaint and take appropriate remedial action, should the results of their investigation so warrant.
The Board of Ethics shall advise the Board of Trustees 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.
The Board of Ethics shall, with respect to every complaint that it receives and all related deliberations, findings, opinions, recommendations and dispositions thereof, use its best efforts to 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.
Editor's Note: See Public Officers Law § 84 et seq.
Board of Ethics members shall not make, or cause to make, any statement regarding any inquiry, preliminary investigation introduced or pending before such board.
Any public officer, employee or 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 by the Village Board in the manner provided by law.
The Village Clerk shall cause a copy of Article 18 of the General Municipal Law and this Code of Ethics to be distributed to every public officer, employee and consultant within 15 days of the effective date of this chapter. In addition, every public officer, employee and consultant shall receive a copy of the same upon being engaged in or taking office in the Village of Cornwall-on-Hudson. Failure to distribute any such copy or failure of any public officer, employee or consultant to receive such copy shall have no effect on the duty of compliance with this code or the enforcement of provisions hereof. The Village Clerk shall further cause a copy of this chapter to be readily available for review.
The Village Board may appropriate moneys from the general Village 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 Village money except within the appropriations provided herein.
An appeal may be taken by the filing of a written petition in opposition to any decision or determination made by the Village Board of Trustees within 30 days from the date that the decision or determination was filed by the Village Board of Trustees. Upon receipt of the petition, the Village Board of Trustees shall make a determination upon the merits of the application within no more than 90 days. Any person aggrieved by a decision or determination of the Village Board of Trustees may seek a judicial review and relief pursuant to Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules of the State of New York.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- Communicating in any form, including, without limitation, personally, by letter, by e-mail or by telephone.
- CONFLICT OF INTEREST
- A conflict exists whenever a public officer, employee or consultant has an interest, direct or indirect, which conflicts with his/her duty to the Village or which could adversely affect an individual's judgment in the discharge of his/her responsibilities.
- One who provides professional advice or services.
- Any claim, account or demand against or in agreement with the Village, 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 a public officer, employee or consultant as a result of a business or professional transaction with the Village. A public officer, employee or consultant shall be deemed to have a direct interest in the affairs of:
- A. His/her spouse, minor children and dependents;
- B. A business concern, partnership or association of which a public officer, employee or consultant is a member, partner, owner, director or employee;
- C. A corporation of which a public officer, employee or consultant is an officer, director or employee;
- D. A corporation, any stock of which is owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by a public officer or employee.
- POLITICAL PARTY
- Shall mean any political party that appears on the ballot for statewide elected office or that exists in the Village.
- PUBLIC OFFICERS
- Officials who make or implement public policy, including members of all boards; and the following employees: department heads, assistant department heads, Village Clerk, Village Treasurer, Deputy Village Clerk, Deputy Village Treasurer, and Secretary for the Planning and Zoning Boards.
- A spouse, child, stepchild, brother, sister, parent or a person claimed as a dependent on latest state income tax return.
- REPORTING INDIVIDUALS
- Public officers, employees and consultants.
- The Village of Cornwall-on-Hudson or any of its boards, commissions or agencies, whether operated or funded solely by the Village or jointly with one or more other municipalities.