[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Union 12-19-1990 by L.L. No. 19-1990. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The purpose of this chapter is to create the Town of Union Ethics and Disclosure Law in compliance with Article 18 of the New York State General Municipal Law (the "Ethics Law"). The citizenry of the Town of Union is entitled to the expectation of exemplary ethical behavior from its Town officers, employees and appointed officials, and this chapter is intended to create the minimum standards which constitute that behavior. This chapter recognizes that varying degrees of professional and governmental responsibility warrant equitable requirements of disclosure in pursuit of official integrity, which must be balanced against individual constitutional rights. Any particulars not determined in this chapter shall be construed within the provisions of General Municipal Law Article 18.
Unless otherwise indicated, the following terms shall be defined such for the purpose of the Ethics Law:
- APPOINTED OFFICIAL
- Any individual who is appointed by the Town Board to an agency, department, council, commission or board, whether unpaid or paid.
- APPROPRIATE BODY
- Pursuant to Article 18 of the General Municipal Law, the Board of Ethics of the Town of Union.
- Any of the divisions of Town government referred to in the definition of "legislation" in this section, except the Town Board.
- A direct or indirect pecuniary or material benefit accruing to a Town officer, employee or appointed official, whether as the result of a contract with the Town or otherwise.
- Having authority, capacity, power or right to act with regard to the management and administration of policy and supervision of personnel of any Town department.
- A matter which appears upon the calendar or agenda of the Town Board of the Town of Union or upon a committee thereof upon which any official action has been taken, and shall include adopted acts, local laws, ordinances or resolutions.
- OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE
- Any officer or employee of the Town of Union and any elected official, appointed official and head of any agency, commission or board of the Town of Union, whether paid or unpaid.
- POLICY-MAKING POSITION
- An officer or employee whose duties are not ministerial in nature and designated to be "policy-making" by the Town Board as set forth in Exhibit A to this chapter.
- REPORTING CATEGORY
- For the purpose of completing financial disclosure reports (Forms A, B and C, pursuant to § 31-4C, D and E of this chapter), the category of interest income, value or worth of said reported items. No exact dollar amounts are to be included in the completion of the statements of financial disclosure; rather, all amounts are to be indicated using the following categories:
- REPORTING INDIVIDUAL
- An officer, employee or appointed official who is required to complete and file an annual statement of financial disclosure pursuant to this chapter.
- The Town of Union or any department, board, office, commission, agency or authority thereof.
It is the policy of the Town Board of the Town of Union that all officers and employees must avoid conflicts or potential conflicts of interest. A conflict or a potential conflict exists whenever an officer or employee has an interest, direct or indirect, which conflicts with his or her duty to the Town or which could adversely affect an individual's judgment in the discharge of his or her responsibilities. No officer or employee shall:
Take action or participate in any manner whatsoever in his or her official capacity in the discussion, negotiation or the awarding of any contract or in any business or professional dealings with the Town or any department thereof in which the official or employee has or will have an interest, direct or indirect, in such contract or professional dealings.
Engage in, solicit, negotiate for or promise to accept private employment or render services for his or her personal benefit when such employment or service creates a conflict or impairs the proper discharge of his or her official duties.
Solicit, directly or indirectly, any gift or receive or accept any gift having the value of $75 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 or her or could reasonably be expected to influence him or her in the performance of his or her official duties or was intended as a reward for any official action on his or her part.
Disclose confidential financial information acquired in the course of his or her official duties or use such information to further his or her personal interest.
Take action on a matter before the Town or any instrumentality thereof when, to his or her knowledge, the performance of that action would provide a pecuniary or material benefit to himself or herself.
Any officer who has had, will have or intends to acquire a direct or indirect interest in any matter being considered by the Town Board of the Town of Union or by any other official, board, department, officer or employee of the Town and who participates in the discussion before or who gives an opinion or gives advice to any board, department or individual considering the same shall publicly disclose on the official record of the Town the nature and the extent of such interest. Any prospective or new employee or appointee to a position in the Town of Union shall disclose, in writing, to the Town of Union Board of Ethics at the earliest possible date any existing or past direct or indirect interest in any matter considered, or to be considered, and/or acted upon, or to be acted upon, by the Town Board or any other board, department, committee, officer or employee of the Town of Union.
[Amended 6-16-2010 by L.L. No. 7-2010]
Any officer or employee of the Town who has knowledge of any matter being considered by any board, department, officer or employee of the Town, in which matter he or she has or will have or intends to acquire any direct or indirect interest, shall be required immediately to disclose, in writing, his or her interest to such board, department, officer or employee and the nature and the extent thereof to the degree that such disclosure gives substantial notice of any potential conflict of interest.
Reporting individuals, as enumerated herein and in Exhibit A, must fully complete, sign and file with the Board of Ethics a statement of financial disclosure which shall be supplied to them by the office of the Town Supervisor or Town Clerk. This statement shall be completed and returned, in a sealed envelope, to the Board of Ethics, through the Town Clerk, on or before March 31 of each year for which the employment or appointment is in effect. The Town Clerk and/or the Town Attorney or the Board of Ethics shall, on an annual basis, on or before June 1, review the signed and filed annual financial disclosure statements for full compliance. Should there be any actual or potential violations noted upon such review, such items will be reported to the Board of Ethics for action.
[Amended 6-16-2010 by L.L. No. 7-2010]
Editor's Note: Exhibit A is on file in the office of the Town Clerk.
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 of financial disclosure and filing with the other(s) a notice that such filing has been made, inclusive of the date and place of the filing.
Any person who is subject to the reporting requirements of this chapter and who has or shall timely file with the Internal Revenue Service an application for automatic extension of time in which to file his/her individual income tax return for the immediately preceding calendar or fiscal year shall be required to submit an annual statement of financial disclosure on or before March 31 of the year in which the employment is in effect. Such person shall file a supplementary statement for any item as so noted on the annual statement of financial disclosure, without liability under § 31-8 of this chapter, if said supplementary statement is filed within 15 days of the expiration of the automatic extension.
Any person who is required to file an annual statement of financial disclosure may request, prior to March 31 of the year for which the employment is in effect, an extension of filing for an additional specific period of time. Such request shall be made in writing to the Board of Ethics, with approval based upon substantiation of justifiable cause or undue hardship. The Board of Ethics may grant or deny the request by vote of the membership, and extensions shall be for the specific period of additional time requested.
Any person required to file an annual statement of financial disclosure who become so required or experiences a change in reporting levels after March 15 of the year for which the employment is in effect shall file the appropriate annual statement within 30 days of the requirement or change.
Every official and employee is required to attest on an annual basis that he or she has reviewed the Code of Ethics of the Town of Union, to be made on or before March 31 of the year for which the employment is in effect.
Establishment. The Town Board of the Town of Union, pursuant to Article 18 of the New York State General Municipal Law, hereby establishes the Town of Union Board of Ethics, responsible for ensuring full compliance with this Code of Ethics and disclosure. The Board of Ethics shall consist of three members, who shall be appointed by the Town Board of the Town. All shall be approved by majority vote of the entire Town Board. Any action of the Board requires two affirmative votes.
Compensation; terms of office.
Members of the Board of Ethics shall serve without compensation but shall be entitled to reimbursement of reasonable expenses and for mileage, in accordance with rules established by the Town Board. Members of the Board of Ethics shall be construed under this chapter as policy-making officials and thus be subject to all of the appropriate ethics and disclosure requirements.
The members of the Board of Ethics shall serve staggered three-year terms. Members of the Board of Ethics shall not serve more than two full three-year terms.
Removal. In addition to penalties defined specifically for violation of the Town of Union Ethics Law and other pertinent sections of local, state and federal law, members of the Board of Ethics may be removed for cause by the Town Board. Prior to removal, the Board of Ethics member shall be given written notice of the grounds for removal and an opportunity to reply.
Powers and duties. The Board of Ethics shall:
Possess all powers and duties authorized by § 808 of General Municipal Law.
Be the repository for completed annual statements of financial disclosure, pursuant to § 808, Subdivision 5, of the General Municipal Law and § 31-4 herein, and such written instruments, affidavits and disclosures as required under this chapter.
Possess, exercise and enjoy all the rights, powers and privileges necessary and proper to the enforcement of the Code of Ethics and completion and filing by reporting officers, employees and appointed officials of the Town of annual statements of financial disclosure required by this chapter.
Promulgate rules and regulations in furtherance of its powers and duties enumerated herein. Said rules and regulations shall include rules governing the conduct of adjudicatory proceedings and appeals relating to the assessment of the civil penalties herein authorized. The Town Board may empower the Board of Ethics to subpoena any individual, whether or not a Town officer, employee or appointed official, and any document or thing which the Board of Ethics deems necessary to the resolution of any pending adjudicatory proceeding or matter.
Render advisory opinions, in writing, regarding specific matters pertaining to filings and reporting categories, to officers, employees and appointed officials of the Town with respect to this chapter and Article 18 of the General Municipal Law.
Such opinions shall be rendered only upon written request by the officer, employee or appointed official concerning only the subject of the inquiry as it pertains to the requesting individual's own filing requirements.
Such opinions shall not be made public or disclosed unless required by the Freedom of Information Law (Public Officers Law Article 6) or required for use in a disciplinary proceeding or proceeding under § 31-7 of this chapter involving the officer, employee or appointed official who requested the advisory opinion. Whenever a request for access to an advisory opinion herein is received, the officer, employee or appointed official who requested the opinion shall be notified of the request within 48 hours of the receipt of the request.
The Town Attorney or his deputy shall serve as counsel to the Board of Ethics.
The Board of Ethics shall be empowered to request support staff assistance from the chief elected official in furtherance of its duties and responsibilities.
An appeal may be taken by the filing of a written petition in opposition to such designation within 30 days from the date that the designation was filed with the Town of Union Board of Ethics. Upon receipt of the petition, the Board of Ethics shall make a determination upon the merits of the application within 30 days.
A reporting individual who knowingly and willfully fails 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 chapter 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 Town of Union Board of Ethics.
For a violation of this chapter, other than for conduct which constitutes a violation of § 73, Subdivision 12, of the Public Officers Law, the Town of Union Board of Ethics may, in lieu of a civil penalty, refer a violation to the District Attorney and, upon such conviction, but only after such referral, such 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.
Upon an appropriate determination and vote, the Town of Union Board of Ethics may file a written recommendation with the chief elected official or other disciplinary body establishing grounds for removal for cause, in accordance with other provisions of the Town Law pertaining to officers, officials and employees and rules governing conduct.
Notwithstanding any other provision of law 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 Town Board may impose disciplinary action as otherwise provided by law.
The Town of Union Board of Ethics shall adopt rules governing the conduct of adjudicatory proceedings and appeals relating to the assessment of the civil penalties herein authorized. Such rules shall provide for due procedural mechanisms substantially similar to those set forth in Article 3 of the State Administrative Procedure Act, 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 and, upon becoming final, shall be subject to review at the instance of the affected reporting individual in a proceeding commenced against the Board of Ethics pursuant to Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules.
The Town Board hereby designates the form, as attached, as the official annual statement of financial disclosure for the purposes of fulfilling the requirements of § 31-4C, D and E, respectively, of the Town of Union Ethics and Disclosure Law.
Editor's Note: Said form is on file in the office of the Town Clerk.
[Added 6-16-2010 by L.L. No. 7-2010]
The Board of Ethics or its designee(s) shall provide periodic training and education to the employees and appointees of the Town of Union with respect to the requirements and obligations of Chapter 31, Code of Ethics.
[Amended 6-16-2010 by L.L. No. 7-2010]
Any person may file with the Board of Ethics a confidential written complaint of an alleged violation of Chapter 31. Such confidential written complaint shall not be subject to the freedom of information laws. The Board of Ethics shall investigate all such confidential written complaints and take such action as may be appropriate. The Board of Ethics shall not disclose the name of the person filing the complaint unless there is to be a public hearing concerning the complaint, an action at law is commenced on behalf of the Town of Union with respect to such complaint or the matter is referred to the District Attorney. The Board of Ethics shall provide reasonable notice to the person filing the complaint before any such public hearing, action at law or referral to the District Attorney.