Borough of Leonia, NJ
Bergen County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Leonia 8-2-2004 by Ord. No. 12-04[1]. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Boards, committees and commissions — See Ch. 11.
Officers and employees — See Ch. 42.
Personnel policies — See Ch. 46.
Contribution disclosure statements — See Ch. 111.
Political fund-raising — See Ch. 208.
[1]
Editor's Note: This ordinance superseded former Ch. 26, Ethics, Code of, adopted 7-17-1972 by Ord. No. 709 (Ch. 24 of the 1982 Code).
The Borough Council, Leonia, New Jersey, declares that it is the public policy of the Borough and the purpose of this chapter to establish standards and guidelines for ethical conduct of officials and employees of the Borough. These policies are best effectuated by:
A. 
Prescribing specific ethical standards in an established Code of Ethics.
B. 
Requiring full disclosures of all Borough officials and employees as herein provided.
C. 
Prescribing appropriate sanctions and remedies to be imposed upon borough officials and employees who violate the public trust.
This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Borough of Leonia Ethics Code."
The Borough of Leonia finds and declares that:
A. 
Public office and employment are a trust;
B. 
The vitality and stability of representative democracy depend upon the public's confidence in the integrity of elected officials 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; and
E. 
It is the purpose of this chapter to provide a method of assuring that standards of ethical conduct and financial disclosure requirements for local government officers and employees shall be clear, consistent, uniform in their application, and enforceable on a state-wide basis, and to provide local officers or employees with advice and information concerning possible conflicts of interest which might arise in the conduct of their public duties.
As used in this chapter:
BOARD
The Local Finance Board in the Division of Local Government Services in the Department of Community Affairs.
BUSINESS ORGANIZATION
Any corporation, partnership, firm, enterprise, franchise, association, trust, sole proprietorship, union or other legal entity.
GOVERNING BODY
In the case of a municipality, the commission, council, board or body, by whatever name it may be known, having charge of the finances of the municipality.
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 nonprofit entity or labor union.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT AGENCY
Any agency, board, governing body, including the chief executive officer, bureau, division, office, commission or other instrumentality within a municipality, and any independent local authority, including any entity created by more than one municipality, which performs functions other than of a purely advisory nature, but shall not include a school board.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE
Any person, whether compensated or not, whether part-time or full-time, employed by or serving on a local government agency who is not a local government officer, but shall not mean any employee of a school district.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT OFFICER
Any person, whether compensated or not, whether part-time or full-time, elected to any 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 municipal, 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 (N.J.S.A. 34:13A-3), but shall not mean any employee of a school district or member of a school board.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE
A local government officer or a local government employee.
MEMBER OF IMMEDIATE FAMILY
The spouse or dependent child of a local government officer or employee residing in the same household.
The Local Finance Board in the Division of Local Government Services in the Department of Community Affairs shall have jurisdiction to govern and guide the conduct of local government officers or employees regarding violations of the provisions of this chapter in accordance with the provisions of this chapter. The Board, in interpreting and applying the provisions of this chapter, 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; that citizens who are government officers and employees have a right to private interests of a personal, financial and economic nature; and that standards of conduct 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.
Local government officers or employees under the jurisdiction of the Local Finance Board shall comply with the following provisions:
A. 
No local government officer or employee or member of his 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 duties in the public interest.
B. 
Former authority members.
(1) 
No independent local authority shall, for a period of one year next subsequent to the termination of office of a member of that authority:
(a) 
Award any contract which is not publicly bid to a former member of that authority;
(b) 
Allow a former member of that authority to represent, appear for or negotiate on behalf of any other party before that authority; or
(c) 
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 pursuant thereto, any former member of that authority.
(2) 
The restrictions contained in this subsection shall also apply to any business organization in which the former authority member holds an interest.
C. 
No local government officer or employee shall use or attempt to use his official position to secure unwarranted privileges or advantages for himself or others.
D. 
No local government officer or employee shall act in his official capacity in any matter where he, a member of his immediate family, or a business organization in which he has an interest, has a direct or indirect financial or personal involvement that might reasonably be expected to impair his objectivity or independence of judgment.
E. 
No local government officer or employee shall undertake any employment or service, whether compensated or not, which might reasonably be expected to prejudice his independence of judgment in the exercise of his official duties.
F. 
No local government officer or employee, member of his immediate family, or business organization in which he has an interest, shall solicit or accept any gift, favor, loan, 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, directly or indirectly, in the discharge of his 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 local government officer has no knowledge or reason to believe that the campaign contribution, if accepted, was given with the intent to influence the local government officer in the discharge of his official duties.
G. 
No local government officer or employee shall use, or allow to be used, his public office or employment, or any information not generally available to the members of the public, which he receives or acquires in the course of and by reason of his office or employment, for the purpose of securing financial gain for himself, any member of his immediate family, or any business organization with which he is associated.
H. 
No local government officer or employee or business organization in which he has an interest shall represent any person or party other than the local government in connection with any cause, proceeding, application or other matter pending before any agency in the local government in which he serves. This provision shall not be deemed to prohibit one local government employee from representing another local government employee where the local government agency is the employer and the representation is within the context of official labor union or similar representational responsibilities.
I. 
No local government officer shall be deemed in conflict with these provisions if, by reason of his 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 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 local government 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 immediate family, whether directly or indirectly, in return therefor.
K. 
Nothing shall prohibit any local government officer or employee, or members of his immediate family, from representing himself, or themselves, in negotiations or proceedings concerning his, or their, own interests.
A. 
Local government officers shall annually file a financial disclosure statement. All financial disclosure statements filed pursuant to this chapter shall include the following information which shall specify, where applicable, the name and address of each source and the local government officer's job title:
(1) 
Each source of income, earned or unearned, exceeding $2,000 received by the local government officer or a member of his 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 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 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 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 immediate family had an interest during the preceding calendar year; and
(5) 
The address and brief description of all real property in the state in which the local government officer or a member of his immediate family held an interest during the preceding calendar year.
B. 
The Local Finance Board shall prescribe a financial disclosure statement form for filing purposes. The Board shall transmit sufficient copies of the forms to the Municipal Clerk in each municipality for filing in accordance with this chapter. The Municipal Clerk shall make the forms available to the local government officers serving the municipality. For local government officers serving the municipality, the original statement shall be filed with the Municipal Clerk in the municipality in which the local government officer serves. A copy of the statement shall be filed with the Board. Local government officers shall file the initial financial disclosure statement within 90 days following the effective date of this chapter. Thereafter, statements shall be filed on or before April 30th each year.
C. 
All financial disclosure statements filed shall be public records.
With respect to its responsibilities for the implementation of the provisions of this chapter, the Local Finance Board shall have the following powers:
A. 
To initiate, receive, hear and review complaints and hold hearings with regard to possible violations of this chapter;
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 hear and determine any appeal of a decision made by a municipal ethics board;
D. 
To forward to the County Prosecutor or the Attorney General or other governmental body any information concerning violations of this chapter which may become the subject of criminal prosecution or which may warrant the institution of other legal proceedings by the Attorney General;
E. 
To render advisory opinions as to whether a given set of facts and circumstances would constitute a violation of this chapter;
F. 
To enforce the provisions of this chapter and to impose penalties for the violation thereof as are authorized by this chapter; and
G. 
To adopt rules and regulations pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act, P.L. 1968, c. 410 (N.J.S.A. 52:14B-1 et seq.) and to do other things as are necessary to implement the purposes of this chapter.
A local government officer or employee may request and obtain from the Local Finance Board an advisory opinion as to whether any proposed activity or conduct would in its opinion constitute a violation of the provisions of this chapter. Advisory opinions of the Board 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. Public advisory opinions shall not disclose the name of the local government officer or employee unless the Board in directing that the opinion be made public so determines.
The Local Finance Board, upon receipt of a signed written complaint by any person alleging that the conduct of any local government officer or employee is in conflict with the provisions of this chapter, 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. The board shall make a determination as to whether the complaint is within its jurisdiction or frivolous or without any reasonable factual basis. 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 local government officer or employee against whom the complaint was filed. Otherwise the Board shall notify the local government officer or employee against whom the complaint was filed of the nature of the complaint and the facts and circumstances set forth therein. The officer or employee shall have the opportunity to present the Board with any statement or information concerning the complaint which he wishes. Thereafter, if the Board determines that a reasonable doubt exists as to whether the local government officer or employee is in conflict with the provisions of this chapter, the Board shall conduct a hearing in the manner prescribed by § 26-12 of this chapter, 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 local government officer or employee. The Board shall render a decision as to whether the conduct of the officer or employee is in conflict with the provisions of this chapter. This decision shall be made by no less than 2/3 of all members of the Board. If the Board determines that the officer or employee is in conflict with the provisions of this chapter, it may impose any penalties which it believes appropriate within the limitations of this chapter. A final decision of the Board may be appealed in the same manner as any other final state agency decision.
A. 
An appointed local government officer or employee found guilty by the Local Finance Board of the violation of any provision of this chapter or of any code of ethics in effect pursuant to this chapter, 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 Board shall report its findings to the office or agency having the power of removal or discipline of the appointed local government officer or employee and may recommend that further disciplinary action be taken.
B. 
An elected local government officer or employee found guilty by the Local Finance Board of the violation of any provision of this chapter or of any code of ethics in effect pursuant to this chapter, 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 finding by the Local Finance Board that an appointed local government officer or employee is guilty of the violation of the provisions of this chapter, or of any code of ethics in effect pursuant to this chapter, shall be sufficient cause for his 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 charged with violating the provisions of this chapter or any code of ethics in effect pursuant to this chapter, 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.
All hearings required pursuant to this chapter 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 Act, P.L. 1968, c. 410 (N.J.S.A. 52:14B-1 et seq.).