[HISTORY: Adopted by the Borough Council of the Borough of Columbia as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted 5-14-2019 by Res. No. 2019-09]
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- ELECTED OFFICIAL
- An individual holding public office who won the position in a free election or one who has been appointed by a majority vote of the elected body when there is a vacancy of the office due to resignation or other reason.
Elected official participation in community activities. From time to time, elected officials may choose to participate in community activities, committees, events, organizational boards, and task forces. When a Council member participates in these types of activities, the Council member is acting as an interested party providing personal observations or expression of thoughts rather than acting on behalf of Borough Council which, by necessity, may act only as a body in a properly noticed public meeting.
Elected official participation in community activities on behalf of Borough Council. Acting or participating on behalf of Borough Council, including oral and written correspondence such as speeches and/or letters to residents and other groups or organizations, is limited to those instances when Council has designated the elected official as its representative for the matter and formally authorized that elected official to speak on its behalf.
Speaking to the media. Normally, the Council President assumes the responsibility for providing statements representing Council's collective position to the press. The Council President may appoint another elected official to assume the responsibility in his/her absence. The Mayor may also at his/her discretion provide statements representing his/her position to the press. Any comments made by individual elected officials which have not been made by the President, his designee or the Mayor should be understood to be that elected official's personal observations or expression of thoughts.
Acting responsibly. Each elected official is responsible for their own actions and words. Being in public office necessitates elected officials being held to a higher standard. Elected officials are reminded that when they speak, their words matter, and they are expected to take ownership and be responsible for their words and actions.
Annual ethics forms shall be submitted to the Borough Office in a timely manner.
Elected officials shall not disclose confidential information to which they have access by virtue of their public office or position. Unless otherwise noted, all emails and working draft documents shared between staff and Borough Council are pre-decisional in nature, considered privileged and confidential and, as such, are not intended for public dissemination or discussion. Matters circulated by legal counsel are subject to the attorney-client privilege which members should not waive without action from Council. Personnel records should also be held in the strictest confidence.
Personal gifts, favors, loans, services, payments and other inducements, made either directly to the elected official or to a family member of the official where there is reason to believe such gifts, favors, or inducements are offered to influence official actions in favor of the donor, should be refused. Any in-kind and/or cash gift, favor, tip, service, etc. with a value over $20 shall be disclosed to the Borough Manager and/or Borough Council who may require that such item be refused or returned. Nominal token gifts including holiday food baskets, calendars, and meals may be accepted.
In any situation where the Borough is a party, elected officials shall not divulge any information or advice not generally available to the public.
Letters addressed to Mayor and/or Council: All letters addressed to the Mayor and/or Council requiring a response from staff are copied to all Council members, the Borough Manager, and the Mayor along with a copy of any response provided.
Letters addressed to individual Council members: All letters addressed to Council members requiring a response from staff are copied to all Council members, the Borough Manager, and the Mayor along with a copy of the response. Letters addressed to individual Council members that do not require a response from staff but which provide information on Council matters are copied to the full Council and the Mayor.
Council correspondence: All Council member correspondence written with Borough resources (letterhead, logos, staff support, postage, etc.) will reflect the position of the full Council, not individual Council member positions. All Council member correspondence using Borough resources will be copied to the full Council, the Borough Manager, and the Mayor.
Elected officials may be reimbursed for expenses incurred while traveling to, from, and during attendance at Borough-related events and conferences pre-approved by Council. Reimbursement shall include mileage, meals, tuition and lodging. Expenses for lodging may be paid in advance by the Borough. All other reasonable expenses are reimbursed after submission of an itemized account of expenses.
Mayor to Act as ceremonial representative: The Mayor is delegated the responsibility to act as Council's ceremonial representative at public events and functions. In the Mayor's absence, the Council President assumes the responsibility. The Mayor may appoint another Council member or the Borough Manager to assume the responsibility in his/her absence.
Oversight of the Police Department: The Mayor directs the Chief of Police on day-to-day activities of the Police Department. The Mayor's powers with respect to the Police Department are pursuant to and limited by the authority granted to the Mayor under the Borough Code, as amended. Issues regarding Department ranks, including the duties of each rank; appointing, suspending, reducing in rank, or discharging officers; establishing the size of the Department; and controlling budget and finance are reserved to Borough Council. Council's powers with respect to the Police Department are pursuant to and limited by the authority granted to Council under the Borough Code, as amended.
These rules, wholly or in part, may be amended or repealed by majority vote in any regularly scheduled meeting of Borough Council. Rules adopted to expedite and facilitate the transition of the business of Council in an orderly fashion shall be deemed to be procedural only, and the failure to strictly observe any such rules shall not affect the jurisdiction of or invalidate any action taken by Council.