[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Council of the Town of Millsboro 1-4-1993 by Ord. No. LXI. Amendments noted where applicable.]
There is hereby adopted a Code of Conduct applicable to elected and appointed officials and employees of the Town of Millsboro to read as follows.
This chapter shall be known as the "Town of Millsboro Code of Conduct."
This chapter shall be applicable to all elected and appointed officials and to all employees of the Town of Millsboro.
It is the purpose of this chapter to ensure the propriety and the preservation of public confidence in the officials and employees of the Town of Millsboro and to establish ethical standards for those officials and employees which will protect the integrity of the government of the Town of Millsboro.
For the purposes of this chapter, the following definitions shall be applicable unless the context clearly indicates to the contrary:
- CLOSE RELATIVE
- A person's parents, spouse, children (natural or adopted) and siblings of the whole and half-blood.
- Any money, thing of value or any other economic benefit of any kind or nature whatsoever conferred on or received by any official or employee of the town in return for any service rendered or to be rendered by the official or employee or by another.
- All employees of the Town of Millsboro.
- FINANCIAL INTEREST
- An interest in a private enterprise which a person has if:
- A. He has a legal or equitable ownership interest in the enterprise of at least 1% or more in the case of a corporation whose stock is regularly traded on an established securities market, or he has a legal or equitable ownership interest in an enterprise other than that of a corporation whose stock is not regularly traded on an established securities market of at least 10%;
- B. He is an employee, officer, partner, director, manager or trustee of an enterprise and receives from that enterprise during the immediate preceding calendar year or might reasonably expect to receive from the enterprise during the current or next calendar year income in excess of $5,000 for services as a manager, employee, agent, partner, member, director or officer of such private enterprise; or
- C. He is a creditor of a private enterprise in an amount equal to at least 1% of the total debt in the case of a corporation whose securities are regularly traded on an established securities market or of at least 10% of the total debt of an enterprise whose securities are not regularly traded on an established securities market.
- Any payment, gratuity or benefit paid or to be made on behalf of any bidder, contractor, prospective contractor, subcontractor, prospective subcontractor or any person associated with any of them to any official or employee as an inducement or reward for the employment of a contract, subcontract, order or favor.
- Any application, petition, request, business dealing, contract, subcontract or any other transaction of any sort with the Town of Millsboro.
- Any elected or appointed official of the Town of Millsboro and all members of any committee or commission appointed by the Mayor of the Town of Millsboro or appointed by the Town Council.
- OFFICIAL RESPONSIBILITY
- Any direct administrative or operating authority at any level, either exercisable alone or with others, either personally or through subordinates to approve, disapprove, recommend or otherwise direct action on behalf of the Town of Millsboro.
- Any individual, natural person, joint-stock company, partnership, voluntary association, society, club, firm, company, corporation, business trust, organization or any other group acting as a unit, or the manager, lessee, agent, servant, partner, member, director, officer or employee of any of them.
- PERSONAL OR PRIVATE INTEREST
- An interest in a matter which intends to impair the independent judgment of an official or employee in the performance of his duties with respect to that matter.
- PRIVATE ENTERPRISE
- Any activity conducted by any person, whether conducted for profit or not for profit, and includes the ownership of real and personal property. Private enterprise may include the activities of the state or any other political subdivision of the state or any agency, authority or instrumentality thereof.
- The Town of Millsboro.
The following standards of conduct shall be applicable to all officials, whether elected or appointed, and all employees of the town:
No official or employee shall participate on behalf of the town in the review or disposition of any matter pending before the town or before a committee or commission thereof in which he has a personal or private interest; provided, however, that the prohibition set forth herein shall not apply if the person who has official responsibility with respect to the matter requests any person who has a personal or private interest to respond to questions concerning any such matter.
No official or employee shall use his position to secure special privileges or exemptions for himself or others, whether for compensation, gratuity or without any compensation or gratuity.
No official or employee shall solicit, demand, accept or agree to accept from another person anything of a pecuniary value for or because of any official action taken or to be taken or which could be taken or any legal duty to be performed or which could be performed by such official or employee.
No officer or employee, in the course of his public responsibilities shall use the granting of sexual favors as a condition, either explicit or implicit, for an individual's favorable treatment by the town.
No employee or official may represent or otherwise assist any private enterprise with respect to any matter before the town with which the employee or official is associated by employment or appointment. This subsection shall not preclude any employee or official from appearing before the town or otherwise assisting any private enterprise with respect to any matter in the exercise of such person's official duties.
No person who has served as an employee or official of the town shall represent or otherwise assist any private enterprise on any matter involving the town for a period of two years after termination of employment or official status with the town, if the person gave an opinion, conducted an investigation or otherwise was directly and materially responsible for such matter in the course of official duties as an employee or official. Nor shall any former employee or official disclose confidential information gained by reason of public position; nor shall the person otherwise use such information for personal gain or benefit.
Each employee or official shall endeavor to pursue a course of conduct which will not raise suspicion among the public that such employee or official is engaging in acts which are in violation of the public trust and which will not reflect unfavorably upon the town and its government.
No employee or official shall engage in any activity beyond the scope of such public position which might reasonably be expected to require or induce such employee or official to disclose confidential information acquired by such employee or official by reason of such public position.
No employee or official shall acquire a financial interest in any private enterprise which such official has reason to believe may be directly involved in decisions to be made by such official in an official capacity on behalf of the town.
Any employee or official who has a financial interest in any private enterprise which is subject to the regulatory jurisdiction of, or does business with, the town shall file with the town a written statement fully disclosing the same. Such disclosure shall be confidential and the town shall not release such disclosed information, except as may be necessary for the enforcement of this chapter. The filing of such disclosure statement shall be a condition of commencing and continuing employment or official status with the town.
In any case where a person has a statutory responsibility with respect to action or nonaction on any matter in which he may have a personal or private interest and there is no provision for the delegation of such responsibility to another person nor is there any provision for the designation of another person to take action or to refrain from taking action, the person may exercise responsibility with respect to such matter, provided that he promptly, after becoming aware of such personal or private interest, files a written statement with the Town Council fully disclosing the personal or private interest and explaining why it is not possible to delegate responsibility for the matter to another person.
The town shall not make or enter into any contract in excess of $500 for materials, supplies, work or labor for the benefit and use of the town with any official or employee of the town or with any partnership in which any official or employee is a general partner or in any corporation in which any official or employee is a director or controlling stockholder or with any firm or company in which any official or employee is pecuniarily interested unless all the elected members of the Town Council, other than the interested official or employee, vote to execute such contract. Any such contract executed without such unanimous vote and consent shall be absolutely null and void.
Any person being awarded a contract with the town in excess of $5,000 shall execute such documents as may be required by the town and shall represent that no person has been retained to solicit or secure the contract with the town upon an agreement or understanding for a commission, percentage, brokerage or contingent fee, excepting for bona fide employees, bona fide established, commercial agencies maintained by the person representing the contracting party for the purpose of securing business.
No employee or official and no private enterprise in which an employee or official has a legal or equitable ownership of more than 10% (more than 1% in the case of a corporation whose stock is regularly traded on an established securities market) shall enter into any contracts with the town (other than an employment contract) unless such contract was made or let after public notice and competitive bidding. Such notice and bidding requirements shall not apply to contracts not involving more than $2,000 per year if the terms of such contract reflect arm's length negotiations.
There is hereby established a Board of Ethics for the Town of Millsboro consisting of five members, residents of the town, appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by a majority vote of all the members of the Town Council. Neither the Mayor nor any member of the Town Council nor any employee of the town shall be a member of the Board of Ethics.
Each member of the Board of Ethics shall be appointed for a term of three years; provided, however, that upon the original appointments, one member shall be appointed for terms of one year; two members for a term of two years; two members for terms of three years. Each member shall be eligible for reappointment and may be removed from office during the term thereof for neglect of duty, gross misconduct in office or for a violation of this chapter.
The Board shall elect from among its own number a Chairman and a Secretary, each of whom shall serve for a period of one year or until their respective successors have been duly appointed and qualified. Any vacancy among the members of the Board shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment and shall be for the remainder of the unexpired term.
The Board shall meet upon the call of its Chairman or upon a written request by a majority of the members of the Board. The Board shall adopt rules for the conduct of its meetings and for the holding of hearings. A majority of the Board shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of any business; provided, however, that the affirmative vote of three members is required for the conduct of any disciplinary hearing or for the imposing of any sanctions.
The Chairman shall preside at all meetings. The Secretary shall maintain the books and records of the Board and shall keep and maintain a complete set of minutes of all meetings and hearings conducted by the Board.
All complaints received by the Board concerning an alleged violation of this chapter and all proceedings before the Board concerning such allegations shall be confidential, and confidentiality of all such complaints and proceedings, including the disposition thereof, shall be maintained unless public disclosure is requested, in writing, by the official or employee whose conduct is the subject of the complaint or hearing or the Board determines, after a hearing, that a violation has occurred.
It shall be the duty and responsibility of the Board of Ethics to administer and implement the provisions of this chapter. To that extent, the Board of Ethics may:
Recommend to the Town Council from time to time such rules of conduct for officials and employees of the town as it shall deem appropriate, including provisions and amendments to this chapter.
Hear and investigate complaints and transmit findings to the Town Council or the Town Manager.
Issue written advisory opinions upon the request of any town official or employee concerning the applicability of this chapter to any particular factual situation.
Refer to the Town Solicitor for investigation any alleged violation of this chapter and, after notice and hearing, recommend by resolution such disciplinary action as it may deem appropriate to the Town Council. The Board of Ethics may also dismiss, without reference to the Town Solicitor, any complaint which the Board of Ethics determines is frivolous or fails to state a violation.
Maintain a file of its proceedings, waiver decisions and advisory opinions with a view toward achieving consistency of opinions and recommendations subject to the confidentiality requirements of this chapter.
Any person who, while a member of the Board of Ethics, becomes a candidate for the office of Town Councilperson shall be disqualified from sitting on any complaint received by the Board of Ethics while such person is a candidate.
Upon the sworn complaint of any person or on its own initiative, the Board of Ethics may refer to the Town Solicitor for investigation any alleged violation of this chapter. The Town Solicitor shall be the prosecuting attorney in all disciplinary proceedings before the Board. In any such investigation or proceeding, the defendant shall be given an opportunity to be heard after notice, to be advised and assisted by legal counsel, to procure witnesses and offer evidence and to cross-examine witnesses. A transcript of any such proceeding shall be made and retained, subject to the confidentiality requirements of this chapter.
A member of the Board of Ethics shall not participate as a member of the Board in any proceeding relating to his or her conduct. A member of the Board who has been found by the Board to have violated this chapter shall be ineligible to serve again as a member of the Board.
A member of the Board of Ethics may disqualify himself or herself from participating in any investigation of the conduct of any person upon submission, in writing and under oath, of an affidavit of disqualification stating that he cannot render an impartial and unbiased decision in a case in which he seeks to disqualify himself.
With respect to any violation with which a person has been charged and which the Board of Ethics has determined is proved, the Board of Ethics may take any one or more of the following actions:
Issue a written reprimand or censure of that person's conduct.
With respect to any municipal employee or municipal officer, other than an elected official, remove, suspend, demote or take other appropriate disciplinary action with respect to that person within the limits of the Constitution and the other laws of this state.
In any proceeding before the Board of Ethics, upon the request of any person charged with the violation of this chapter, such person shall be permitted to inspect, copy or photograph books, papers, documents, photographs or other tangible evidence which may be used as evidence against that person in a disciplinary hearing which are material to the preparation of his defense.
In any proceeding before the Board of Ethics, if the Town Solicitor or the Board at any time receives any exculpatory information respecting an alleged violation against any person, it shall forthwith make such information available to such person.
Any person charged with a violation of this chapter may apply to the Board for the issuance of subpoenas for the appearance of witnesses and for the production of documents on his behalf. The application shall be granted upon a concise showing by such person that the proposed testimony or evidence is relevant or is reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of relevant evidence and is not otherwise available. The application shall be denied if not made at a reasonable time or if the testimony or evidence would be merely cumulative.
In addition to any other penalty set forth herein, any person violating any of the provisions of this chapter shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof in a court of competent jurisdiction, shall be fined not less than $50 nor more than $200 or be imprisoned for a term of not more than 20 days, or both, and shall pay the costs of prosecution.
No person shall disclose any information required to be maintained confidential pursuant to this chapter. Any person who knowingly or willfully violates any provision of this chapter shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable for each such violation by imprisonment of not more than one year and a fine not to exceed $1,000.