[Adopted 12-8-1992 by Ord. No. 302-1992]
The purpose of this article is to:
Promulgate a form of annual statement of financial disclosure which is designed to assure disclosure by certain municipal officers and employees and to assure disclosure by elected officials of such financial information as is determined by this City Council.
Continue the use of an authorized form of annual statement of financial disclosure in use on the date such article is adopted.
Designate the Board of Ethics of the City of New Rochelle as the Board to receive and review such filing.
This article is being enacted pursuant to § 811, Subdivision 1, and § 812, Subdivision 3, of the General Municipal Law and any other applicable section of the General Municipal Law of the State of New York and is enacted pursuant to the authority granted therein by the State of New York to the City of New Rochelle.
As used in this article, the following words shall have the following meanings:
- LOCAL ELECTED OFFICIAL
- An elected official of the City of New Rochelle, except Judges or Justices of the Unified Court System.
- LOCAL OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE
- The heads (other than local elected officials) of any agency, department, division, council, board, commission or bureau of the City of New Rochelle and their deputies and assistants and the officers and employees of the City, departments, divisions, boards, bureaus, commissions or councils who hold policymaking positions, as annually determined by the City of New Rochelle and set forth in a written instrument which shall be filed with the Board of Ethics during the month of February, except that the term "local officer or employee" shall not mean a Judge, Justice, officer or employee of the Unified Court System.
- Such individual's spouse, child, stepchild, stepparent or any person who is a direct descendant of the grandparents of the reporting individual or of the reporting individual's spouse.
- The husband or wife of the reporting individual unless living separate and apart from the reporting individual with the intention of terminating the marriage or providing for permanent separation or unless separated pursuant to a judicial order, decree or judgment or a legally binding separation agreement.
- UNEMANCIPATED CHILD
- Any son, daughter, stepson or stepdaughter who is under the age of 18, unmarried and living in the household of the reporting individual.
There is hereby established a Board of Ethics for the City of New Rochelle to be known as the "New Rochelle Board of Ethics."
The Board of Ethics shall consist of three members who shall serve five-year terms of office, one such term expiring each year. Members shall be appointed by the City Manager subject to approval by the City Council. If the City Manager shall fail to appoint the members within 30 days after the establishment of the Board of Ethics or within 30 days after a vacancy occurs on the Board of Ethics, the City Council shall appoint such member or members, as the case may be. Only one member of the Board shall be an officer or employee of the City of New Rochelle. In the event that a vacancy occurs prior to the expiration of the five-year term, such vacancy shall be filled for the balance of such term in the same manner as members are appointed to full terms.
No more than two members of the Board may be affiliated with the same political party. No member of the Board may hold an officer's position in any political party, except that such person may be a member of a county committee of a political party. For purposes of this subsection, "political party" shall mean any political party which appears on the ballot in the last biennial City election. The members shall elect a Chairperson from among themselves and such other officers as may be deemed necessary from time to time.
A Board of Ethics member may be removed by the City Manager with the approving consent of not fewer than five members of the City Council after a finding of substantial neglect of duty, gross misconduct in office, inability to discharge the powers or duties of the office or violation of this article after written notice of the charges and an opportunity for reply.
The City Clerk shall be the Clerk of the Board of Ethics, and all documents filed with the City Clerk shall be deemed, for the purposes of this article, to be filings with the Board of Ethics.
The Board of Ethics shall have all the powers and duties as prescribed by Article 18 of the General Municipal Law. The Board of Ethics may adopt and amend such rules or procedures as are appropriate.
The City of New Rochelle recognizes that matters of finance do exist which are so personal in nature and are so unrelated to the performance of public employees' duties that no useful purpose can be served by such disclosure. Nonetheless, certain financial information may be relevant to a public official's or employee's duties and impact the integrity of the City of New Rochelle government. To that extent, the following City officers and elected officials shall file with the Board of Ethics of the City of New Rochelle annually, on or before February 28 of every year following the enactment of this article during the term of their office, a statement of their financial holdings, assets, liabilities and net worth. The time for filing such statement may be extended, pursuant to the rules of the Board of Ethics, for justifiable cause and for undue hardship upon application to the Board of Ethics pursuant to the rules and regulations set forth in this article and, if applicable, to §§ 811, 812 and 813 of the General Municipal Law of the State of New York.
All department and bureau heads.
All deputies to department and bureau heads.
All assistants to deputies.
All local elected officials.
All Board of Appeals on Zoning members.
All Board of Assessment Review members.
All Board of Examiners of Electricians members.
All Municipal Civil Service Commissioners.
All Historical and Landmark Review Board members.
All Human Rights Commissioners.
All MacLeay Wood Housing Corporation members.
All Municipal Arts Commission members.
All Municipal Housing Authority members.
All New Rochelle Neighborhood Revitalization members.
All Planning Board members.
In addition to the officers and employees listed in Subsection A above, all elected officials of the City of New Rochelle and any local officer or employee who is determined by the City Council of the City of New Rochelle to be a policymaker or to perform any of the duties listed in § 33-11A(9)(a) to (d) of this article shall be required to file a financial disclosure statement.
The designated officers and employees and elected officials shall file with the Board of Ethics a disclosure statement answering each and every question. The statement shall be in the form set forth in Appendix A attached hereto.
Editor's Note: Appendix A is on file in the City Clerk's office.
The Board of Ethics shall have the power to:
Adopt, amend and rescind rules and regulations to govern procedures of the Board of Ethics, which shall include, but not be limited to, the procedure whereby a person who is required to file an annual financial disclosure statement with the Board of Ethics may request an additional period of time within which to file such statement, due to justifiable cause or undue hardship. Such rules and regulations shall provide for a date beyond which in all cases of justifiable cause or undue hardship no further extension of time will be granted. The Board of Ethics may utilize or modify such rules and regulations or adopt separate rules and regulations for the purposes of Subdivision 1(d) of § 811 of the General Municipal Law.
Promulgate guidelines to assist the City Council in determining which persons hold policymaking positions for the purposes of § 811 and Subdivision 3 of § 812 of the General Municipal Law and this article.
Make available forms for annual statements of financial disclosure required to be filed pursuant to this article.
Review completed financial disclosure statements in accordance with the provisions of this article, the rules and regulations of the Board of Ethics and any local law, ordinance or Code of Ethics established by the City Council of the City of New Rochelle.
Receive complaints alleging a violation of this article or a violation of the criteria for reporting requirements established by this article, any Code of Ethics of the City of New Rochelle, local law, ordinance or resolution regarding the filing of the completed statements with the Board of Ethics.
Permit any person required to file a financial disclosure statement to request the Board of Ethics to delete from the copy thereof made available for public inspection one or more items of information, which may be deleted by the Board of Ethics upon a finding that the information which would otherwise be required to be disclosed will have no material bearing on the discharge of the reporting person's official duties. If such request for deletion is denied, the Board of Ethics, in its notification of denial, shall inform the person of his right or her right to appeal the Board's determination pursuant to the rules governing adjudicatory proceedings and appeals adopted pursuant to this article and any applicable section of the General Municipal Law. The Board of Ethics shall promulgate rules and regulations governing the issuance of written decisions in connection with appeals.
Permit any person required to file a financial disclosure statement to request an exemption from any requirement to report one or more items of information which pertain to such person's spouse or unemancipated children, which item or items may be exempted by the Board of Ethics upon a finding by the majority of the total members of the Board of Ethics without vacancy that the reporting individual's spouse, on his or her own behalf or on behalf of an unemancipated child, objects to providing the information necessary to make such disclosure and that the information which would otherwise be required to be reported will have no material bearing on the discharge of the reporting person's official duties.
Advise and assist any local official in establishing rules and regulations relating to possible conflicts between private interests and official duties of present or former elected officials, local party officials and local officers and employees.
Permit any person who has not been determined by the City Council to hold a policymaking position but who is otherwise required to file a financial disclosure statement to request an exemption from such requirement in accordance with the rules and regulations governing such exemptions. Such rules and regulations shall provide for exemptions to be granted either on the application of the individual or on behalf of persons who share the same job title or employment classification which the Board of Ethics deems to be comparable for purposes of this section. Such rules and regulations may permit the granting of an exemption where, in the discretion of the Board of Ethics, the public interest does not require disclosure and the applicant's duties do not involve the negotiation, authorization or approval of:
Contracts, leases, franchises, revocable consents, concessions, variances, special permits or licenses as defined in § 73 of the Public Officers Law;
The purchase, sale, rental or lease of real property, goods or services or a contract therefor;
The obtaining of grants of money or loans; or
The adoption or repeal of any rule or regulation having the force and effect of law.
Prepare an annual report to the City Manager and City Council summarizing the activities of the Board of Ethics and recommending changes in the laws governing the conduct of local elected officials and officers and employees of the City covered by this article.
Act as a repository for completed financial disclosure forms filed pursuant to this article.
Upon certification of a question by the City Council to the Ethics Board, the Board may determine a question common to a class or defined category of persons or items of information required to be disclosed where determination of the question will prevent undue repetition of requests for exemption or deletion or prevent undue complication in complying with the requirements of this article.
The Board of Ethics shall inspect all financial disclosure statements filed with the Board of Ethics to ascertain whether any person subject to the reporting requirements of this article, a Code of Ethics, local law, ordinance or resolution has failed to file such a statement, has filed a deficient statement or has filed a statement which reveals a possible violation of this article, a Code of Ethics, law, ordinance or resolution of the City of New Rochelle.
The Board of Ethics shall have all necessary authority to enforce the filing requirements of this article, including the authority to promulgate such rules and regulations as the Board of Ethics determines are necessary to implement this article. The Board of Ethics shall be authorized to review requests for exceptions with respect to complying with timely filing of such disclosure statements due to justifiable cause or undue hardship.
The Board of Ethics shall have the power to expend City Council appropriated funds to retain or hire legal counsel to advise it on any matter arising under this article.
If a person required to file a financial disclosure statement with the Board of Ethics has failed to file a disclosure statement or has filed a deficient statement, the Board of Ethics shall notify the reporting person in writing, state the failure to file or detail the deficiency, provide the person with a fifteen-day period to cure the deficiency and advise the person of the penalties for failure to comply with the reporting requirements. Such notice shall be confidential. If the person fails to make such filing or fails to cure the deficiency within the specified time period, the Board of Ethics shall send a notice of delinquency to the reporting person and to the appointing authority for such person.
If a reporting person has filed a statement which reveals a possible violation of a duly adopted Code of Ethics of the City of New Rochelle, local law, ordinance or resolution or the Board of Ethics receives a sworn complaint alleging such a violation or if the Board of Ethics determines on its own initiative to investigate a possible violation, the Board of Ethics shall notify the reporting person in writing, describe the possible or alleged violation of such Code of Ethics, local law, ordinance or resolution or this article and provide the person with a fifteen-day period in which to submit a written response setting forth information relating to the activities cited as a possible or alleged violation of law. If the Board of Ethics thereafter makes a determination that further inquiry is justified, it shall give the reporting person an opportunity to be heard. The Board shall also inform the reporting individual of its rules regarding the conduct of adjudicatory proceedings and appeals and the due process procedural mechanisms available to such individual. If the Board determines at any stage of the proceeding that there is no violation or that any potential conflict of interest violation has been rectified, it shall so advise the reporting person and the complainant, if any. All of the foregoing proceedings shall be confidential.
If the Board determines that there is reasonable cause to believe that a violation has occurred, it shall send a notice of reasonable cause to the reporting person, to the complainant, if any, and to the City Council of the City of New Rochelle.
A reporting individual who knowingly and willfully fails after notice to file an annual statement of financial disclosure or who knowingly and willfully with intent to deceive makes a false statement or gives information which such individual knows to be false on such statement of financial disclosure filed pursuant to this article shall be assessed a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed $10,000. Assessment of a civil penalty hereunder shall be made by the Board of Ethics with respect to the persons subject to its jurisdiction. For a violation of this article other than for conduct which constitutes a violation of Subdivision 12 of § 73 of the Public Officers Law, the Board of Ethics may, in lieu of a civil penalty, refer a violation to the appropriate prosecutor and, upon conviction after such a referral, violation shall be punishable as a Class A misdemeanor. A civil penalty for false filing may not be imposed hereunder in the event that a category of value or amount reported hereunder is incorrect unless such reported information is falsely understated. Notwithstanding any other provision of this article to the contrary, no other penalty, civil or criminal, may be imposed for a failure to file or for a false filing of such statement, except that the City Council of the City of New Rochelle may impose disciplinary action as otherwise provided by law. The Board of Ethics shall be deemed to be an agency within the meaning of Article 3 of the State Administrative Procedure Act and shall adopt rules governing the conduct of adjudicatory proceedings and appeals relating to the assessment of civil penalties herein authorized. Such rules, which shall not be subject to the approval requirements of the State Administrative Procedure Act, shall provide for due process procedural mechanisms substantially similar to those set forth in such Article 3, but such mechanisms need not be identical in terms of scope. Assessment of a civil penalty shall be final unless modified, suspended or vacated within 30 days of imposition with respect to the assessment of such penalty and upon becoming final shall be subject to review at the instance of the affected reporting individuals in a proceeding commenced against the Board of Ethics pursuant to Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules.
A copy of any notice of delinquency or notice of reasonable cause sent pursuant to this article shall be included in the reporting person's file and be available for public inspection.
Upon written request from any person who is subject to the jurisdiction of the Board of Ethics, the Board of Ethics shall render advisory opinions on the requirements of said provisions. An opinion rendered by the Board of Ethics, until and unless amended or revoked, shall be binding on the Board of Ethics in any subsequent proceeding concerning the person who requested the opinion and who acted in good faith, unless material facts were omitted or misstated by the person in the request for an opinion. Such opinion may also be relied upon by such person and may be introduced and shall be a defense in any criminal or civil action. Such requests shall be confidential, but the Board of Ethics may publish such opinions, provided that the name of the requesting person and other identifying details shall not be included in the publication.
In addition to any other powers and duties specified by this article, the Board of Ethics shall have the power and duty to:
Administer and enforce all the provisions of this article.
Conduct any investigation necessary to carry out the provisions of this article. Pursuant to this power and duty, the Board may administer oaths or affirmations, subpoena witnesses, compel their attendance and require the production of any books or records which it may deem relevant or material.
Notwithstanding the provisions of Article 6 of the Public Officers Law, the only records of the Board of Ethics which shall be available for public inspection are the following:
Notwithstanding the provisions of Article 7 of the Public Officers Law, no meeting or proceeding of the Board of Ethics shall be open to the public, except if expressly provided otherwise by the Board of Ethics.
Members of the Board of Ethics shall not receive compensation but shall be reimbursed for reasonable expenses incurred in the performance of their official duties from funds duly appropriated for the purpose by the City Council.
The Board of Ethics shall be empowered to request support staff assistance from the City Council or City Manager in furtherance of its duties and responsibilities.
Upon the adoption of this article, the City Manager shall cause a copy thereof to be distributed to every City employee of this City. Failure to distribute such copy or failure of any City employee to receive such copy shall have no effect on the duty of compliance with this code nor the enforcement of the provisions hereof. The City Manager shall further cause a copy of this article to be kept posted conspicuously in each public building under the jurisdiction of the City. Failure to adopt this article shall have no effect on the duty of compliance herewith nor enforcement provisions hereof.
Within 30 days of the adoption of this article, the City Clerk shall file a copy thereof in the Comptroller's office of the State of New York.
The City Council may appropriate moneys from the general City funds for the maintenance of and for personal services to the Board of Ethics established hereunder, but such Board of Ethics may not commit expenditures of City moneys except within the appropriations provided herein.