[HISTORY: Adopted by the Common Council of the City of Ithaca 7-7-1993 by Ord. No. 93-14. (This ordinance also repealed former Ch. 55, Ethics, Code of, adopted 3-6-1974, as amended.) Amendments noted where applicable.]
Oath of office — See § C-6.
Personnel — See Ch. 90.
The purpose of this chapter is to establish minimum standards of conduct to help ensure that the exercise of governmental responsibilities by City of Ithaca officials and employees is free from improper influences that might cause those officials or employees to make, promote or hinder public decisions in order to advance their own private interests. The standards and guidelines set forth in this chapter are intended to eliminate, to the greatest extent possible, the existence of conflicts of interest pertaining to city officials and city employees in the exercise of their official duties, to minimize unwarranted suspicion that such conflicts exist and to avoid potential conflicts of interest before they arise.
The rules of ethical conduct set forth in this chapter are intended to supplement those of §§ 800 through 813 of the General Municipal Law of the State of New York and any other applicable general or specific law relating to ethical conduct and interest by municipal officials and employees.
For the purposes of this chapter, the following terms shall be defined as set forth in this section.
- CITY EMPLOYEE
- Any employee paid by the City of Ithaca, other than any elected official.
- CITY OFFICIAL
- Any elected official and any person, other than a city employee, appointed to any position in the city government.
- ELECTED OFFICIAL
- The Mayor and any member of Common Council.
- A city official or city employee's spouse or domestic partner, and all dependent children. "Spouse" shall mean 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. "Domestic partner" shall mean a person defined as a domestic partner pursuant to Chapter 215, Article IV, of this Code.
Unless otherwise specified, all sections of this chapter shall apply to all city officials and all city employees.
Applicability. This section shall apply only to elected officials.
Annual disclosure statement required. By February 1 of each year thereafter, each elected official shall complete and file with the City Clerk a signed statement of financial disclosure containing the information and in the form set forth in § 55-13 of this chapter. Upon receipt of such forms, the City Clerk shall file them with the New York State Temporary State Commission on local government ethics.
Such disclosure statements shall be kept on file as a public record by the City Clerk. Public notice of the existence and availability of such file shall be made annually by legal notice in the newspaper of record, announcement by the Mayor at each February's regularly scheduled Common Council meeting and posting of the notice conspicuously in City Hall.
No city official or city employee shall, directly or indirectly, solicit, accept or receive any gift having a value of $75 or more, whether in the form of money, service, loan, travel, entertainment, hospitality, thing or promise, or in any other form, under circumstances in which it could reasonably be 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.
Except as required by law, no city official or city employee may disclose confidential information acquired during the course of his or her official duties or use such information to further his or her personal interests or the personal interests of his or her family.
City officials and city employees must exercise their official duties solely in the public interest and must avoid actual conflicts of interest to the greatest extent possible.
City officials and city employees should avoid circumstances which compromise their ability to make impartial judgments solely in the public interest and should, to the greatest extent possible, avoid even the appearance of conflict of interest. No city official or city employee shall knowingly take any action or incur any obligation of any nature which is in conflict with or might reasonably tend to conflict with the proper discharge of his or her duties on behalf of the City of Ithaca.
No city official or city employee shall receive, or enter into any agreement, express or implied, for compensation for services to be rendered in relation to any matter before any city agency of which he or she is an officer, member or employee or of any city agency over which he or she has jurisdiction or to which he or she has the power to appoint any member, officer or employee.
No city official or city employee shall receive, or enter into any agreement, express or implied, for compensation for services to be rendered in relation to any matter before any city agency, whereby his or her compensation is to be dependent or contingent upon any action by such agency with respect to such matter, provided that this subsection shall not prohibit the fixing at any time of fees based upon the reasonable value of the services rendered.
Avoidance of conflicts.
Each city official and city employee is responsible for exercising due diligence in attempting to avoid actual or potential conflicts of interest when voting or taking other discretionary action regarding all matters with which he or she deals on behalf of the city.
A city official or city employee shall exercise particularly careful diligence in avoiding any actual or potential conflict of interest when voting or taking other discretionary action on any matter brought before any element of the city government by any entity that employs said official or employee. In any such case, the involved city official or employee should attempt to avoid taking any action that could reasonably be interpreted as benefiting his or her career advancement, salary or standing within the entity that employs him or her.
Notwithstanding any provisions in this chapter, if a conflict of interest cannot be avoided because of the nature of the circumstances in a particular situation, any involved city official or employee shall bring the particular matter to the attention of the Mayor and the City Attorney, or such other city official or city employees as may be appropriate, before voting or taking any discretionary action on said matter.
Provisions of this chapter shall not be deemed to prevent any city official from voting or taking other lawful action with regard to the establishment of salaries or benefits for elected city officials.
Whenever a city official or city employee is called upon to vote on, advise on or otherwise take discretionary action on a matter before the city, and either the performance or nonperformance of such action would provide a significant and special pecuniary or material benefit to him/herself or his/her family or otherwise create any potential conflict of interest, the officer or employee shall immediately declare the nature of the conflict of interest and shall refrain, where appropriate, from taking any action or inaction that would affect the outcome of the matter.
No person shall intentionally induce a city official or city employee to take any action that violates any provision of this chapter. Any person who intentionally induces a city official or city employee to take action in violation of this chapter shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor, subject to a fine of not more than $1,000 and shall be barred from doing business with the City of Ithaca for a period of up to five years.
Nothing in this chapter shall be deemed to bar the timely filing by a present or former official or employee of any claim, demand or suit against the city on behalf of him/herself or his/her family arising out of any personal injury or property damage or for any lawful benefit, or from receiving a municipal service or benefit that is generally available to the public or to other city employees or city officials.
Within 10 days of this chapter's enactment, the City Clerk shall post a copy of this chapter conspicuously and permanently in City Hall in a manner allowing public perusal of its provisions. Copies of this chapter shall also be made available by the City Clerk to members of the public upon request under provisions of the Freedom of Information Law.
Within 30 days of this chapter's enactment, the City Clerk shall distribute a copy of this chapter to all city officials and city employees. Each city official and city employee shall be given a copy of this chapter before entering upon the duties of his or her office.
Any knowing and willful violation of this chapter will be a Class A misdemeanor subject to the penalties provided in § 813 of the General Municipal Law.
Knowing and willful violation of this chapter may also subject the violator to a civil penalty and may also involve forfeiture of office or employment and liability for all damages. Civil penalties may include a fine not to exceed $10,000, for knowingly and willfully failing to file a financial disclosure statement, for knowingly and willfully making a false statement with intent to deceive or for otherwise knowingly and willfully violating this chapter.