Questions about eCode360? Municipal users Join us daily between 12pm and 1pm EDT to get answers and other tips!
Atlantic County, NJ
 
By using eCode360 you agree to be legally bound by the Terms of Use. If you do not agree to the Terms of Use, please do not use eCode360.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Chosen Freeholders of Atlantic County 5-14-1991 by Ord. No. 15-1991[1] Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Administration of government — See Ch. 4.
Defense and indemnification — See Ch. 18.
Officers and employees — See Ch. 36.
[1]
Editor's Note: This ordinance repealed former Ch. 2, Ethics, Code of, adopted 7-25-1978, as amended.
This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Atlantic County Code of Ethics."
The Board of Chosen Freeholders of the County of Atlantic finds and declares that:
A. 
Public office and employment are a public trust.
B. 
The vitality and stability of representative democracy depend upon the public's confidence in the integrity of its elected and appointed representatives.
C. 
Whenever the public perceives a conflict between the private interests and the public duties of a government officer or employee, that confidence is imperiled.
D. 
Governments have the duty both to provide their citizens with standards by which they may determine whether public duties are being faithfully performed and to apprise their officers and employees of the behavior which is expected of them while conducting their public duties.
A. 
It is the purpose of this chapter to provide a method of assuring that standards of ethical conduct and financial disclosure requirements for officers and employees of the County of Atlantic shall be clear, consistent, uniform in their application and enforceable and to provide those officers or employees with advice and information concerning possible conflicts of interests which might arise in the conduct of their public duties.
B. 
It is the further purpose of this chapter to implement the provisions of the Local Government Ethics Law, P.L. 1991, c. 29.
C. 
This chapter is enacted under the authority of the Local Government Ethics Law, P.L. 1991, c. 29.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
AGENCY
Any agency, board, governing body, including the chief executive officer, bureau, division, office, commission or other instrumentality within Atlantic County, and any independent local authority created by or appointed under the authority of Atlantic County, which performs functions other than of a purely advisory nature, but shall not include a school board.
BUSINESS ORGANIZATION
Any corporation, partnership, firm, enterprise, franchise, association, trust, sole proprietorship, union or other legal entity.
EMPLOYEE
Any person, whether compensated or not, whether part-time or full-time, employed by or serving on an agency, who is not a local government officer, but shall not mean any employee of a school district.
INTEREST
The ownership or control of more than 10% of the profits, assets or stock of a business organization but shall not include the control of assets in a nonunion profit entity or labor union.
MEMBER OF IMMEDIATE FAMILY
The spouse or dependent child of an officer or employee residing in the same household.
OFFICER
Any person, whether compensated or not, whether part-time or full-time, elected to an office of a local government agency; serving on a local government agency which has the authority to enact ordinances, approve development applications or grant zoning variances; who is a member of an independent County or regional authority; or who is a managerial executive or confidential employee of a local government agency, as defined in Section 3 of the New Jersey Employer-Employee Relations Act, P.L. 1941, c. 100, but shall not mean any employee of a school district or member of a school board.
OFFICER or EMPLOYEE
An officer or employee of Atlantic County or of an agency under the authority of or appointed by Atlantic County.
Officers and employees of Atlantic County shall comply with the following provisions:
A. 
No officer or employee of Atlantic County or member of his or her immediate family shall have an interest in a business organization or engage in any business, transaction or professional activity which is in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of his or her duties in the public interest.
B. 
No officer or employee shall use or attempt to use his or her official position to secure unwarranted privileges or advantages for himself, herself or others.
C. 
No independent local authority shall, for a period of one year next subsequent to the termination of office of a member of that authority:
(1) 
Award any contract which is not publicly bid to a former member of that authority;
(2) 
Allow a former member of that authority to represent, appear for or negotiate on behalf of any other party before that authority; or
(3) 
Employ for compensation, except pursuant to open competitive examination in accordance with Title 11A of the New Jersey Statutes and the rules and regulations promulgated thereto, any former member of that authority.
D. 
No officer or employee shall act in his or her official capacity in any matter where he or she or a member of his or her immediate family or any business organization in which he or she has an interest has a direct or indirect financial or personal involvement that might reasonably be expected to impair his or her objectivity or independence of judgment.
E. 
No officer or employee shall undertake any employment or service, whether compensated or not, which might reasonably be expected to prejudice his or her independence of judgment in the exercise of his or her official duties.
F. 
No officer or employee, member of his or her immediate family or any business organization in which he or she has an interest shall solicit or accept any gift, favor, political contribution, service, promise of future employment or other thing of value based upon an understanding that the gift, favor, loan, contribution, service, promise or other thing of value was given or offered for the purpose of influencing him or her, directly or indirectly, in the discharge of his or her official duties. This provision shall not apply to the solicitation or acceptance of contributions to the campaign of an announced candidate for elective public office if the officer has no knowledge or reason to believe that the campaign contribution, if accepted, was given with the intent to influence the officer in the discharge of his or her official duties.
G. 
No officer or employee shall use or allow to be used his or her public office or employment or any information not generally available to the members of the public, which he or she receives or acquires in the course of and by reason of his or her office or employment, for the purpose of securing financial gain for himself or herself, any member of his or her immediate family or any business organization with which he or she is associated.
H. 
No officer or employee or any business organization in which he or she has an interest shall represent any person or party other than the County in connection with any cause, proceeding, application or other matter pending before any agency of Atlantic County. This provision shall not be deemed to prohibit an employee from representing another employee where the representation is within the context of official labor union or similar representational responsibilities.
I. 
No officer shall be deemed in conflict with these provisions if, by reason of his or her participation in the enactment of any ordinance, resolution or other matter required to be voted upon or which is subject to executive approval or veto, no material or monetary gain accrues to him or her as a member of any business, profession, occupation or group to any greater extent than any gain could reasonably be expected to accrue to any other member of such business, profession, occupation or group.
J. 
No elected officer shall be prohibited from making an inquiry for information on behalf of a constituent if no fee, reward or other thing of value is promised to, given to or accepted by the officer or a member of his or her immediate family, whether directly or indirectly, in return therefor.
K. 
Nothing shall prohibit any officer or employee of Atlantic County or members of his or her immediate family from representing himself, herself or themselves in negotiations or proceedings concerning his, her or their own interests.
A. 
Officers of Atlantic County shall annually file a financial disclosure statement. All financial disclosure statements shall include the following information which shall specify, where applicable, the name and address of each source and the officer's job title:
(1) 
Each source of income, earned or unearned, exceeding $2,000. received by the officer or a member of his or her immediate family during the preceding calendar year. Individual client fees, customer receipts or commissions on transactions received through a business organization need not be separately reported as sources of income. If a publicly traded security is the source of income, the security need not be reported unless the local government officer or member of his or her immediate family has an interest in the business organization.
(2) 
Each source of fees and honorariums having an aggregate amount exceeding $250. from any single source for personal appearances, speeches or writings received by the local government officer or a member of his or her immediate family during the preceding calendar year.
(3) 
Each source of gifts, reimbursements or prepaid expenses having an aggregate value exceeding $400. from any single source, excluding relatives, received by the local government officer or a member of his or her immediate family during the preceding calendar year.
(4) 
The name and address of all business organizations in which the local government officer or a member of his or her immediate family had an interest during the preceding calendar year.
(5) 
The address and brief description of all real property in the state in which the local government officer or a member of his or her immediate family held an interest during the preceding calendar year.
B. 
The Atlantic County Ethics Board shall prescribe a financial disclosure statement form for filing purposes. If a financial disclosure statement form has been promulgated by the New Jersey Local Finance Board in accordance with the New Jersey Local Government Ethics Law, then that form shall be used. The Ethics Board shall make the forms available to the officers and employees required to file a financial disclosure statement.
C. 
The original statement shall be filed with the County Clerk on or before August 19, 1991. All subsequent statements shall be filed on or before April 30 of each year. A copy of the statement shall be filed with the Atlantic County Ethics Board and the Local Finance Board.
D. 
All financial disclosure statements filed shall be public records.
[1]
Editor’s Note: Former § 20-7, Establishment and organization of Ethics Board, was repealed 4-14-2015 by Ord. No. 5-2015. Said ordinance also stated that, "The Atlantic County Ethics Board is hereby eliminated effective May 1, 2015."
A. 
Atlantic County shall provide the Atlantic County Ethics Board with offices for the conduct of its business and the preservation of its records and shall supply equipment and supplies as may be necessary.
B. 
All necessary expenses incurred by the Atlantic County Ethics Board and its members shall be paid, upon certification of the chairperson of the Board, by the County Treasurer within the limits of funds appropriated in the annual budget or by emergency appropriations for those purposes. The Board shall be subject to County budget, accounting and purchasing procedures.
C. 
The Atlantic County Ethics Board may appoint employees, including independent counsel, and clerical staff as are necessary to carry out the provisions of this chapter within the limits of funds appropriated by the County for those purposes in the annual budget.
A. 
Within 90 days after the appointment of the Atlantic County Ethics Board, the Board shall promulgate, by resolution, a Code of Ethics for all officers and employees serving the County. Officers and employees serving a County independent authority shall be deemed to be serving the County for purposes of this code. Until such time as the County Ethics Board shall have adopted a Code of Ethics, the provisions set forth in § 20-5 shall serve as the Code of Ethics for Atlantic County.
B. 
The Code of Ethics promulgated by the Board shall be either identical to the provisions set forth in P.L. 1991, c. 29, and § 20-5 hereof or more restrictive, but shall not be less restrictive.
C. 
Within 15 days following the promulgation thereof, the Code of Ethics and a notice of the date of the public hearing to be held on the Code of Ethics shall be published in the newspaper designated for the publication of official notices for the County and shall be distributed to the County Clerk and to the heads of the agencies serving the County for circulation among the officers and employees serving the County.
D. 
The Atlantic County Ethics Board shall hold a public hearing on the Code of Ethics not less than 30 days following its promulgation, at which any officer or employee of the County and any other person wishing to be heard shall be permitted to testify.
E. 
As a result of the hearing, the Board may amend or supplement the Code of Ethics as it deems necessary.
F. 
If the County Ethics Board adopts provisions different from those set forth in § 20-5 hereof, the Ethics Board shall, as required by law, submit the Code of Ethics to the New Jersey Local Finance Board for approval.
G. 
If the Local Finance Board fails to act within 60 days of the submission, the Code of Ethics shall be deemed approved.
H. 
A Code of Ethics requiring approval by the New Jersey Local Finance Board shall take effect 60 days after approval by the commission.
I. 
A Code of Ethics identical to the provisions set forth in P.L. 1991, c. 29, and § 20-5 hereof shall take effect 10 days after the public hearing.
J. 
All amendments subsequent to the adoption of the Code of Ethics shall be made in the same manner as the original adoption as set forth above.
K. 
The Board shall forward a copy of the Code of Ethics and any amendments to the County Clerk and shall make copies available to officers and employees serving the County.
The Ethics Board shall have the following powers:
A. 
To initiate, receive, hear and review complaints and to hold hearings with regard to possible violations of the County Code of Ethics or financial disclosure requirements by local government officers or employees serving the County.
B. 
To issue subpoenas for the production of documents and the attendance of witnesses with respect to its investigation of any complaint or to the holding of a hearing.
C. 
To forward to the County Prosecutor or the Attorney General or other governmental body any information concerning violations of the Code of Ethics or financial disclosure requirements by officers or employees serving the County which may warrant the institution of other legal proceedings by the Attorney General.
D. 
To render advisory opinions to local officers or employees serving the County as to whether a given set of facts and circumstances would constitute a violation of any provision of the Code of Ethics or financial disclosure requirements.
E. 
To enforce the provisions of the Code of Ethics and financial disclosure requirements with regard to officers or employees serving the County and to impose penalties for the violation thereof as are authorized by this code.
F. 
To adopt rules and regulations and to do other things as are necessary to implement the purposes of this chapter.
A. 
All hearings required pursuant to this code shall be conducted in conformity with the rules and procedures, insofar as they may be applicable, provided for hearings by a state agency in contested cases under the Administrative Procedure Chapter, N.J.S.A. 52:14B-l et seq.
B. 
The final decision of the Ethics Board may be appealed to the Local Finance Board within 30 days of the decision.
A. 
An officer or employee of Atlantic County may request and obtain from the Atlantic County Ethics Board an advisory opinion as to whether any proposed activity or conduct would, in its opinion, constitute a violation of the Code of Ethics or any financial disclosure requirements. The Board shall render an advisory opinion within 120 days after the Board receives the request.
[Amended 12-6-2011 by Ord. No. 17-2011]
B. 
Advisory opinions shall not be made public, except when the Board, by the vote of 2/3 of all of its members, directs that the opinion be made public.
C. 
Public advisory opinions shall not disclose the name of the officer or employee unless the Board, in directing that the opinion be made public, so determines.
D. 
If, in the opinion of the Chair of the Ethics Board, the request for an advisory opinion is of such magnitude and/or urgency that a decision is essential prior to the one-hundred-twenty-day time limit, then the Board will have the right to convene a special meeting to provide an advisory opinion prior to the newly enacted time frame.
[Added 12-6-2011 by Ord. No. 17-2011]
A. 
The Atlantic County Ethics Board, upon receipt of a signed written complaint by any person alleging that the conduct of any officer or employee of the County of Atlantic is in conflict with the Code of Ethics or financial disclosure requirements, shall acknowledge receipt of the complaint within 30 days of receipt and initiate an investigation concerning the facts and circumstances set forth in the complaint.
B. 
The Atlantic County Ethics Board, in interpreting and applying the provisions of the Code of Ethics, shall recognize that under the principles of democracy, public officers and employees cannot and should not be expected to be without any personal interest in the decisions and policies of government and that citizens who are government officers and employees have a right to private interests of a personal, financial and economic nature and shall distinguish between those conflicts of interest which are legitimate and unavoidable in a free society and those conflicts of interest which are prejudicial and material and are, therefore, corruptive of democracy and free society.
C. 
The Board shall make a determination as to whether the complaint is within its jurisdiction or frivolous or without any reasonable factual basis.
D. 
If the Board shall conclude that the complaint is outside its jurisdiction, frivolous or without factual basis, it shall reduce that conclusion to writing and shall transmit a copy thereof to the complainant and to the officer or employee of Atlantic County against whom the complaint was filed.
E. 
If the Board shall conclude that the complaint is within its jurisdiction and has at least a minimal factual basis, the Board shall notify the officer or employee of Atlantic County against whom the complaint was filed of the nature of the complaint and the facts and circumstances set forth therein.
F. 
The officer or employee shall have the opportunity to present the Board with any statement or information concerning the complaint which he or she wishes.
G. 
Thereafter, if the Board determines that a reasonable doubt exists as to whether the officer or employee of Atlantic County is in conflict with the County Code of Ethics or any financial disclosure requirements, the Board shall conduct a hearing concerning the possible violation and any other facts and circumstances which may have come to the attention of the Board with respect to the conduct of the officer or employee.
H. 
The Board shall render a decision as to whether the conduct of the officer or employee is in conflict with the Code of Ethics or any financial disclosure requirements. Its decision shall be made by no less than 2/3 of all members of the Board.
I. 
If the Board determines that the officer or employee is in conflict with the code or any financial disclosure requirements, it may impose any penalties which it believes appropriate within the limits of this code.
A. 
An appointed officer or employee of Atlantic County found guilty by the Atlantic County Ethics Board of the violation of any provision of the Atlantic County Code of Ethics shall be fined not less than $100 nor more than $500, which penalty may be collected in a summary proceeding pursuant to the Penalty Enforcement Law (N.J.S.A. 2A:58-1 et seq.). The Atlantic County Ethics Board shall report its findings to the office or agency having the power of removal or discipline of the appointed officer or employee and may recommend that further disciplinary action be taken.
B. 
An elected officer or employee of Atlantic County found guilty by the Atlantic County Board of Ethics of the violation of any provision of this code shall be fined not less than $100. nor more than $500, which penalty may be collected in a summary proceeding pursuant to the Penalty Enforcement Law (N.J.S.A. 2A:58-1 et seq.).
C. 
The finding by the Atlantic County Ethics Board that an appointed officer or employee of Atlantic County is guilty of the violation of the provisions of this code shall be sufficient cause for his or her removal, suspension, demotion or other disciplinary action by the officer or agency having the power of removal or discipline. When a person who is in the career service is found to have violated the provisions of this code, the procedure leading to removal, suspension, demotion or other disciplinary action shall be governed by any applicable procedures of Title 11A of the New Jersey Statutes and the rules promulgated pursuant thereto.
The members of the Atlantic County Ethics Board or their counsel or members of the staff, if any, shall be available to provide educational services regarding ethics issues to Atlantic County officers and employees at the request of the County Administrator.
All statements, complaints, requests or other written materials filed pursuant to this code and any rulings, opinions, judgments, transcripts or other official papers prepared pursuant to this code shall be preserved for a period of five years from the date of filing or preparation, as the case may be.
The Board of Ethics serving under the County Ethics Code repealed by this chapter is dissolved as of the effective date of this chapter, and all its papers, records, minutes and opinions shall be turned over to the newly constituted Board.