§ 6-2Supersession and repeal of existing laws.
§ 6-3Code of Ethics for Village officers and employees.
§ 6-4Transactional disclosure.
§ 6-5Exclusions from Code of Ethics and from transactional disclosure.
§ 6-6Inducement of violations of Code of Ethics.
§ 6-7Interest in contracts with Village.
§ 6-9Appearances by outside employers and businesses of Village
officers and employees.
§ 6-10Applicant disclosure: generally.
§ 6-11Applicant disclosure: land use applications.
§ 6-12Disclosure of interest in legislation.
§ 6-13Void contracts.
§ 6-14Investments in conflict with official duties.
§ 6-15Penalties for offenses.
§ 6-17Maintenance of disclosure statements.
§ 6-18Establishment of Ethics Board; qualifications of members; appointment
of members; term of office.
§ 6-19Vacancies on Ethics Board.
§ 6-20Removal of members of Ethics Board.
§ 6-21Meetings of Ethics Board.
§ 6-22Jurisdiction, powers and duties of Ethics Board.
§ 6-23Review of lists and disclosure statements.
§ 6-25Hearings; assessment of penalties; injunctive relief.
§ 6-26Advisory opinions.
§ 6-27Availability of information.
§ 6-28Public inspection of records; public access to meetings.
§ 6-29Existing rights; word usage.
§ 6-32When effective.
Pursuant to the provisions of § 806 of the General Municipal Law, the State of New York recognizes that there are rules of ethical conduct for public officers and employees which 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. It is the purpose of this chapter to promulgate these rules of ethical conduct for the officers and employees of the Village of Rhinebeck (hereafter, the "Village"). These rules shall serve as a guide for official conduct of the officers and employees of the Village. The rules of ethical conduct of this chapter, as adopted, shall not conflict with but shall be in addition to any provision of Article 18 of the General Municipal Law or any other general or special law relating to the ethical conduct and interest in contracts of municipal officers and employees.
To the extent this chapter is inconsistent with the provisions of § 808 of the General Municipal Law, this chapter shall supersede those provisions. This chapter shall replace and repeal the existing Code of Ethics for the Village in its entirety.
General prohibition. An officer or employee of the Village shall not use his or her official position or office, or take or fail to take any action, in a manner which he or she knows or has reason to know may result in a personal financial benefit for any of the following persons:
The officer or employee;
His or her outside employer or business;
A member of his or her household;
A customer or client;
A relative; or
A person from whom the officer or employee has received election campaign contributions of more than $250 in the aggregate during the past 12 months.
Recusal. An officer or employee shall promptly recuse himself or herself from acting on any matter before the Village if the officer or employee's involvement is prohibited pursuant to § 6-1 hereof.
Gifts. An officer or employee shall not solicit anything of value from any person who has received or sought a financial or personal benefit from the Village, nor accept anything of value from any person who the officer or employee knows or has reason to know has received or sought a financial or personal benefit from the Village within the previous 24 months.
Representation. An officer or employee shall not represent any other person in any matter that person has before the Village nor represent any other person in any matter against the interests of the Village.
Appearances. An officer or employee shall not appear before any agency of the Village except on behalf of himself or herself, an immediately family member, or on behalf of the Village.
Confidential information. Officers and employees and former officers and employees shall not disclose any confidential information, or use it to further a personal interest. No officer or employee or former officer and employee may accept employment or engage in business or professional activity which could reasonably be expected to require or induce him or her to disclose confidential information acquired by reason of his or her official position.
Political solicitation. An officer or employee shall not knowingly request or knowingly authorize anyone else to request any subordinate of the officer or employee to participate in an election campaign or contribute to a political committee.
Revolving door. An officer or employee shall not appear or practice before the Village, except on his or her own behalf, or receive compensation for working on any matter before the Village, for a period of one year after the termination of his or her Village service or employment.
Avoidance of conflicts. Officers and employees shall not knowingly acquire, solicit, negotiate for, or accept any interest, employment, or other thing of value which would put them in violation of this Code of Ethics.
Inducement of others. An officer or employee shall not induce or aid another officer or employee to violate any of the provisions of this Code of Ethics.
Whenever an officer or employee is required to recuse himself or herself under the Code of Ethics set forth in § 6-3 of this chapter, he or she:
Shall immediately refrain from participating further in the matter;
Shall promptly inform his or her superior, if any; and
Shall promptly file with the Village Clerk a signed statement disclosing the nature and extent of the prohibited action or, if a member of any board, shall state that information upon the public record of such board.
The Village Clerk shall cause a copy of that disclosure to be filed promptly with the Ethics Board.
An action specifically authorized by statute, rule, or regulation of the State of New York or of the United States.
A ministerial act.
Awards from charitable organizations.
Receipt of Village services or benefits, or use of Village facilities that are generally available on the same terms and conditions to residents or a class of residents in the Village.
Representation of constituents by elected officials without compensation in the proper discharge of official duties.
Officers or employees appearing or practicing before the Village or receiving compensation for working on a matter before the Village after termination of their Village service or employment where they performed only ministerial acts while working for the Village.
Prohibited interests. No officer or employee or their spouse shall have an interest in any contract with the Village, or an interest in a bank or trust company, that is prohibited by § 801 of the General Municipal Law of the State of New York. Any contract willfully entered into by or with the Village in which there is an interest prohibited by that section shall be null, void, and wholly unenforceable, to the extent provided by § 804 of that law.
Discloseable interests. Any officer or employee, or their spouse, who has, or will have an interest in, any actual or proposed contract with the Village shall publicly disclose the nature and extent of that interest in accordance with § 803 of the General Municipal Law. The Village Clerk shall cause a copy of that disclosure to be filed promptly with the Ethics Board.
Violations. Any officer or employee who willfully and knowingly violates the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor to the extent provided by § 805 of the General Municipal Law.
Exceptions. An officer or employee may avail themselves of any of the exceptions to this section afforded by § 802 of the General Municipal Law which are applicable under the relevant circumstances.
Unless otherwise stated or unless the context otherwise requires, when used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- Communicating in any form or by any means, whether personally or through another person.
Any person to whom an officer or employee has supplied goods or services during the previous 24 months having, in the aggregate, a value greater than $1,000; or
Any person to whom an officer's or employee's outside business has supplied goods or services during the previous 24 months having, in the aggregate, a value greater than $1,000, but only if the officer or employee knows or has reason to know the outside business supplied the goods or services.
- GIFT and FINANCIAL BENEFIT
- Any pecuniary or material benefit derived by oneself or immediate family member, including, without limitation, any money, service, license, permit, contract, authorization, loan, travel, entertainment, hospitality, or any promise thereof, or any other gratuity or promise thereof or anything of value in excess of $25. A financial transaction may be a financial benefit but shall not be a gift unless it is on terms not available to the general public.
- IMMEDIATE FAMILY MEMBER
- A parent, spouse, minor child, or sibling of the officer or employee.
- MINISTERIAL ACT
- An action performed in a prescribed manner without exercise of judgment or discretion as to the propriety of the act.
- OFFICER or EMPLOYEE
- Any officer or employee of the Village whether paid or unpaid, and includes, without limitation, all members of any office, board, body, advisory board, council, commission, agency, department, district, administration, division, bureau, or committee of the Village. "Officer or employee" shall not include:
A volunteer fire fighter or civil defense volunteer except the fire chief or assistant fire chief; or
A member of an advisory board of the Village, but only if the advisory board has no authority to implement its recommendations; or
An outside paid consultant providing professional services to the Village on an incremental or contract basis, such as an engineer, attorney, planner, or accountant.
Any activity, other than service to the Village, from which the officer or employee receives compensation for services rendered or goods sold or produced;
Any entity, other than the Village, of which the officer or employee is a member, officer, director, or employee and from which he or she receives compensation for services rendered or goods sold or produced; or
Any entity in which the officer or employee has an ownership interest, except a corporation of which the officer or employee owns less than 5% of the outstanding stock.
- A spouse, child, stepchild, brother, sister, or parent of an officer or employee, or a claimed dependent of the officer or employee.
Except as provided in Subsection C of this section, the outside employer or business of an officer or employee shall not appear before the particular agency in which the officer or employee serves or by which he is employed.
Except as provided in Subsection C of this section, the outside business of an officer or employee shall not appear before any Village agency or board if the officer or employee has the authority to appoint any officer, employee, or member of the agency or board or to review, approve, audit or authorize any budget, bill, payment, or claim of such agency or board.
Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the outside employer and business of an officer or employee from:
Where a person requests the Village or officer or employee to take, or refrain from taking, any action (other than a ministerial act) that may result in a financial benefit both to the requestor and to such official or one of the persons listed in Subsection A of § 6-3 of this chapter, the requestor shall disclose the names of any such persons, to the extent known to the requestor at the time of the request.
If the request is made in writing, the disclosure shall accompany the request. If the request is oral and made at a meeting of a public body, the disclosure shall be set forth in the public record of the body. If the request is oral and not made at a meeting of a public body, the disclosure shall be set forth in a writing filed with the Village Clerk.
Disclosure. Every application, petition or request submitted for a variance, amendment, change of zoning, approval of a plat, exemption from a plat or official map, license, or permit, pursuant to the provisions of any ordinance, local law, rule or regulation constituting the zoning and planning regulations of the Village shall state the information required, to the extent required, by § 809 of the General Municipal Law of the State of New York.
Violations. Any person who willfully and knowingly violates the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, to the extent provided by § 809 of the General Municipal Law.
To the extent known, any officer or employee who participates in a discussion, or gives an official opinion to the Village Board, on any legislation before it shall publicly disclose on the official record the nature and extent of any direct or indirect financial or other private interest he or she may have in such legislation.
Any contract or agreement entered into by or with the Village which results in or from a violation of any provisions of §§ 6-3, 6-4 and 6-7 of this chapter shall be void unless ratified by the Village Board. Such ratification shall not affect the imposition of any criminal or civil penalties pursuant to this chapter or any other provision of law.
No officer or employee shall invest or hold any investment, directly or indirectly, in any entity or business, public or private, or have any interest in any financial transaction which creates a conflict with his official duties.
Disciplinary action. Any 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, pursuant to the provisions of any applicable statute or regulation. A warning, reprimand, suspension, removal, or other authorized sanction may be imposed in addition to any other penalty contained in this chapter or in any other provision of law.
Civil fine. Any officer or employee who violates any provision of this chapter may be subject to a civil fine of up to $1,500 for each violation. A civil fine may be imposed in addition to any other penalty contained in any other provision of law or in this chapter, other than a civil forfeiture pursuant to Subsection D of this section. A civil fine may not be imposed for a violation of § 6-7 of this chapter.
Damages. Any officer or employee who violates any provision of this chapter shall be liable in damages to the Village for any losses, increased costs, or costs of administration of this chapter incurred by the Village as a result of the violation. Such damages may be imposed in addition to any other penalty contained in any other provision of law or in this chapter, other than civil forfeiture pursuant to Subsection D of this section.
Civil forfeiture. Any officer or employee who intentionally or knowingly violates any provision of this chapter may be subject to a civil forfeiture to the Village of a sum equal to three times the value of any financial benefit he or she received as a result of the conduct that constituted the violation. A civil forfeiture may be imposed in addition to any other penalty contained in any other provision of law or in this chapter, other than a civil fine pursuant to Subsection B or damages pursuant to Subsection C of this section. Civil forfeiture shall not be available for a violation of § 6-7 of this chapter.
Any officer or employee who intentionally or knowingly violates any provision of this chapter shall be prohibited from entering into any contract with the Village for a period not to exceed three years, as provided in Subsection E of § 6-25 of this chapter. Debarment may not be imposed for a violation of § 6-7 of this chapter. The terms of this § 6-16 shall also apply to any outside business of any officer or employee.
No person, whether or not a Village officer or employee, shall enter into a contract in violation of a bar imposed pursuant to Subsection A of this section.
Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit any person from receiving a service or benefit, or from using a facility, which is generally available to the public.
Under this section, a corporation, partnership, or other entity shall not be held vicariously liable for the actions of an employee. A corporation, partnership, or other entity shall not be debarred because of the actions of an employee unless:
The employee acted in the execution of a company policy or custom or at the direction of a principal, officer or director of said company; or
The employee holds a controlling interest in such corporation, partnership, or other entity. A store, region, division, or other unit of an entity shall not be debarred because of the actions of an employee of that unit unless the employee acted at the direction, or with the actual knowledge or approval, of the manager of the unit.
Pursuant to the provisions of § 808 of the General Municipal Law of the State of New York, there is hereby established an Ethics Board consisting of three members appointed by the Village Board.
All Ethics Board members shall reside within the Village.
No Ethics Board member shall be an officer in a political party. No Ethics Board member shall be employed or act as a lobbyist in the Village. An Ethics Board member may make campaign contributions but may not participate in any election campaign, except as a candidate.
Within 60 days after the effective date of this chapter, and no later than the first Monday in April each year thereafter, the Village Board shall appoint the members of the Ethics Board.
The term of office of Ethics Board members shall be three years and shall run from June 1 through May 31, except that the first member appointed shall serve until May 31 of the year in which the Board is established, the second shall serve until the second May 31, and the third shall serve until the third May 31.
Consecutive service on the Board shall not exceed two full terms.
The members of the Ethics Board shall not receive compensation except to be reimbursed for reasonable and necessary expenses incurred in connection with his or her duties as an Ethics Board member.
The Attorney to the Village shall serve as counsel to the Ethics Board, except in any matter where the Attorney determines he or she is not able to advise the Ethics Board due to a conflict of interest. In such event, the Ethics Board may retain separate counsel of its choosing, or if a conflict attorney has been appointed by the Village Board, the Ethics Board shall retain such conflict attorney at the expense of the municipality if the advice of counsel is sought.
The Village Board may appropriate monies for the maintenance and personal services connected with the Ethics Board.
When a vacancy occurs in the membership of the Ethics Board, the vacancy shall, within 60 days, be filled for the unexpired portion of the term in the same manner as the original appointment. Any person appointed to fill a vacancy on the Ethics Board shall meet the qualifications set forth in § 6-18 of this chapter.
Pursuant to General Municipal Law § 808, members of the Ethics Board shall serve at the pleasure of the Village Board. An Ethics Board member may be removed from office in the same manner in which he or she was appointed, after written notice and opportunity for reply. Grounds for removal shall be failure to meet the qualifications set forth in § 6-18 of this chapter, substantial neglect of duty, gross misconduct in office, inability to discharge the powers or duties of office, or violation of this chapter.
At its first meeting each year, the Ethics Board shall elect a chair, and may elect a deputy chair, from among its members. A majority of the Board shall be required for the Board to take any action. The chair or a majority of the Board may call a meeting of the Board.
The Ethics Board may only act with respect to officers and employees of the Village.
The termination of an officer's or employee's term of office or employment with the Village shall not affect the jurisdiction of the Ethics Board with respect to the requirements imposed on him or her by this chapter.
The Ethics Board shall have the following powers and duties:
To prescribe and promulgate rules and regulations governing its own internal organization and procedures in the manner consistent with this chapter;
To review, index, maintain on file, and dispose of sworn complaints and to make notifications and conduct investigations;
To subpoena witnesses and documents;
To conduct hearings, recommend disciplinary action, assess penalties, make referrals, and initiate appropriate actions and proceedings pursuant to § 6-25;
To provide training and education to Village officers and employees;
The Ethics Board shall prepare and submit an annual report to the Village Board, summarizing the activities of the Ethics Board. The report may also recommend changes to the text or administration of this chapter.
The Ethics Board shall annually compile a list of Village officers and employees who are subject to the provisions of the Village Code of Ethics.
The Ethics Board shall review all transactional disclosure statements. If the Board determines that a disclosure statement is deficient or reveals a possible or potential violation of this chapter, the Board shall notify the person in writing of the deficiency and possible or potential violation and of the penalties for failure to comply with this chapter.
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 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 Ethics Board may administer oaths or affirmations, subpoena witnesses, compel their attendance, and require the production of any books, documents or records which it may deem relevant and material.
The Ethics Board shall state in writing the disposition of every sworn complaint it receives and of every investigation it conducts and shall set forth the reasons for the disposition. All such statements and all sworn complaints shall be indexed and maintained on file by the Board.
Any person filing a sworn complaint with the Ethics Board shall be notified in writing of the disposition of the complaint.
Nothing in this section shall be construed to permit the Ethics Board to conduct an investigation of itself or of any of its members or staff. If the Ethics Board receives a complaint alleging that the Board or any of its members or staff has violated any provision of this chapter, or any other law, the Board shall promptly transmit a copy of such complaint to the Village Clerk and Village Board.
Conduct of hearings. Except in the case of a conflict of interest, the chairperson of the Ethics Board shall preside over any hearing warranted upon completing and concluding an investigation of any sworn complaint as hearing officer. If the chairperson has a conflict of interest that may impair his or her ability to fairly conduct the hearing, the chairperson shall recuse himself or herself and the deputy chairperson, if there be one, shall preside for that matter. In the event a deputy chairperson has not been appointed, an alternate member of the Ethics Board shall be chosen by majority vote of the remaining members of the Ethics Board, to preside for that matter. The hearing officer shall have the power and authority of presiding officers or hearing officers as defined by the State Administrative Procedure Act (SAPA), any other pertinent statute, local law, ordinance or resolution and regulations promulgated therefrom.
Findings of fact. Within 30 days following the close of a hearing, the Ethics Board shall issue findings of fact and a determination based on same, recommending an appropriate penalty or civil fine to be assessed or any other action the Ethics Board deems appropriate pursuant to this chapter.
Disciplinary action. In its discretion, after a hearing providing for due process procedural mechanisms and subject to any applicable provisions of law and collective bargaining agreements, the Ethics Board may recommend that the Village Board take appropriate disciplinary action pursuant to Subsection A of § 6-15 of this chapter. The Ethics Board shall conduct and complete the hearing with reasonable promptness, unless in its discretion the Ethics Board refers the matter to the Village Board or to the appropriate prosecutor if it determines that criminal charges may be appropriate. If such a referral is made, the Ethics Board may adjourn the matter pending determination by the Village Board or prosecutor.
Civil fine. In its discretion and after a hearing providing for due process procedural mechanisms, the Ethics Board may assess a civil fine, not to exceed $1,500 for each violation, upon any officer or employee found by the Ethics Board to have violated this chapter. The civil fine shall be payable to the Village.
Debarment. Upon the recommendation of the Ethics Board, the Village Board may initiate an action or special proceeding, as appropriate, in a court of appropriate jurisdiction for an order of debarment, as provided in § 6-16 of this chapter.
Prosecutions. The Ethics Board may refer possible criminal violations under this chapter to the appropriate prosecutor. Nothing contained in this chapter shall be construed to restrict the authority of any prosecutor to prosecute any violation of this chapter or of any other law.
Judicial review. Any person aggrieved by any action of the Ethics Board or Village Board under this chapter may seek judicial review and relief pursuant to Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules of the State of New York.
The Ethics Board may render written advisory opinions with respect to the interpretation or application of this chapter or of Article 18 of the General Municipal Law of the State of New York upon the written request of any member of the Village Board or of the Village Mayor. Any other person may similarly request an advisory opinion but only with respect to whether his own action might violate a provision of this chapter or Article 18.
Advisory opinions and requests for advisory opinions shall be indexed and maintained on file by the Ethics Board.
The Ethics Board shall diligently respond to any request that is appropriately filed pursuant to this section.
The Ethics Board shall make information concerning this chapter and Article 18 of the General Municipal Law available to the officers and employees of the Village, to the public, and to persons interested in doing business with the Village.
The only record of the Ethics Board which shall be available for public inspection are those whose disclosure is required by Article 6 of the Public Officers Law of the State of New York or by some other law or regulation.
No meeting or proceeding of the Ethics Board concerning misconduct, nonfeasance, or neglect in office by an officer or employee shall be open to the public, except upon the request of the accused officer or employee or as required by the provisions of Article 7 of the Public Officer Law or by some other state or federal law or regulation.
No existing right or remedy shall be lost, impaired, or affected by reason of this chapter.
All references to gender herein are for convenience only and shall in every instance be read as including individuals of both genders.
All references to the singular or plural contained herein shall be read to include the other as appropriate.
If any part of this chapter is declared to be invalid by any court of competent jurisdiction, such decision shall not affect or impair the validity of said chapter as a whole, or any other part of said chapter. The Village Board hereby declares that it would have adopted this chapter and each part thereof irrespective of the fact that any one or more of the parts may be declared invalid.
This chapter is intended to supersede, repeal and annul the provisions of Chapter 6 of the Village Code adopted 11-10-1970, and amended thereafter.
This chapter shall take effect immediately upon filing in the office of the Secretary of State in accordance with § 27 of the Municipal Home Rule Law.