Township of Hillsborough, NJ
Somerset County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee of the Township of Hillsborough 12-10-1991 by Ord. No. 91-29 (Ch. 17 of the 1977 Code). Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Officers and employees — See Ch. 73.
Personnel policies — See Ch. 89.

§ 49-1 Purpose; authority.

A. 
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 of the Township of Hillsborough shall be clear, consistent and uniform in their application and enforceable and to provide those local government 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, N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.1 et seq.
C. 
This chapter is enacted under the authority of the Local Government Ethics Law, P.L. 1991, c. 29, N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.1 et seq.

§ 49-2 Definitions.

As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
BUSINESS ORGANIZATION
Any corporation, partnership, firm, enterprise, franchise, association, trust, sole proprietorship, union or other legal entity.
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.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT AGENCY
Any agency, board, governing body, including the chief executive officer, office, commission or other instrumentality within the Township of Hillsborough and any independent local authority created by or appointed under the authority of the Township of Hillsborough which performs functions other than of a purely advisory nature.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT 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.
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.
MEMBER OF IMMEDIATE FAMILY
The spouse or dependent child of a local government officer or employee residing in the same household.

§ 49-3 Financial disclosure statements.

A. 
Local government officers of the Township 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 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 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 honorarium 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 prepared 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 names and addresses 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 Hillsborough Township Ethical Standards 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[1], then that form shall be used. The Township Clerk shall make the forms available to the local government officers required to file a financial disclosure statement.
[1]
Editor's Note: See N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.1 et seq.
C. 
The original statement shall be filed with the Township Clerk within 90 days after the effective date of the New Jersey Local Government Ethics Law.[2] All subsequent statements shall be filed on or before April 30 of each year. A copy of the statements shall be filed with the Hillsborough Township Ethical Standards Board.
[2]
Editor's Note: See N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.1 et seq.
D. 
All financial disclosure statements filed shall be public records.

§ 49-4 Ethical Standards Board.

A. 
There is hereby established the Hillsborough Township Ethical Standards Board, consisting of six members who are residents of the Township, at least two of whom shall be public members. The members of the Board shall be appointed by the Township Committee. The members shall be chosen by virtue of their known and consistent reputation for integrity and their knowledge of local government affairs. No more than three members of the Board shall be of the same political party.
B. 
The members of the Hillsborough Township Ethical Standards Board shall annually elect a Chairperson from among the membership.
C. 
The members shall serve terms of five years; except that of the members initially appointed, two of the public members shall be appointed to serve for terms of five years, one member shall be appointed to serve for a term of four years and the remaining members shall be appointed to serve for terms of three years. Each member shall serve until his or her successor has been appointed and qualified. Any vacancy occurring in the membership of the Board shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment for the unexpired term.
D. 
Members of the Board shall serve without compensation but shall be reimbursed for necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties under this chapter.
E. 
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, N.J.S.A. 52:14B-1 et seq.

§ 49-5 Facilities and staff.

A. 
The Township Committee shall provide the Hillsborough Township Ethical Standards Board with the facilities needed for the conduct of its business and the preservation of its records and shall supply equipment and supplies as may be necessary and as may be provided for in the annual municipal budget.
B. 
All necessary expenses incurred by the Hillsborough Township Ethical Standards Board and its members shall be paid, upon certification of the Chairperson of the Board, by the Township Treasurer, within the limits of funds appropriated in the annual budget or by emergency appropriations for those purposes.
C. 
The Hillsborough Township Ethical Standards Board may request and receive assistance from local government Township officers and employees, including the Township Clerk and the Township Attorney, and 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 Township Committee for those purposes in the annual budget.

§ 49-6 Adoption of Code of Ethics.

A. 
Within 90 days after the establishment of the Hillsborough Township Ethical Standards Board, the Board shall promulgate by resolution a Code of Ethics for all local government officers and local government employees serving the Township. Local government officers and local government employees serving a Township-independent authority shall be deemed to be serving the Township for purposes of this chapter. Until such time as the Hillsborough Township Ethical Standards Board shall have adopted a Code of Ethics, the provisions set forth in N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.5 shall serve as the Code of Ethics.
B. 
The Code of Ethics promulgated by the Board shall be either identical to the provisions set forth in N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.5 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 Township and shall be distributed to the Township Clerk and to the department heads of the local government agencies for circulation among the local government officers and local government employees serving the Township.
D. 
The Hillsborough Township Ethical Standards Board shall hold a public hearing on the Code of Ethics not less than 30 days following its promulgation, at which any local government officer or local government employee of the Township 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 Code of Ethics is not identical to the provisions set forth in N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.5, the Hillsborough Township Ethical Standards 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 after approval by said Board.
I. 
A Code of Ethics identical to the provisions set forth in N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.5 shall take effect 10 days after the public hearing.
J. 
The Board shall forward a copy of the Code of Ethics to the Township Clerk and shall make copies available to local government officers and local government employees serving the Township.

§ 49-7 Powers and duties of Ethical Standards Board.

The Hillsborough Township Ethical Standards Board shall have the following powers:
A. 
To initiate, receive, hear and review complaints and hold hearings with regard to possible violations of the Municipal Code of Ethics or financial disclosure requirements by local government officers or employees serving the Township.
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 Township which may warrant the institution of other legal proceedings by the Attorney General.
D. 
To render advisory opinions to local government officers or employees serving the Township 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 local government officers or employees serving the Township and to impose penalties for the violation thereof as are authorized by this chapter.
F. 
To adopt rules and regulations and to do other things as are necessary to implement the purposes of this chapter.

§ 49-8 Advisory opinions.

A. 
A local government officer or employee of the Township of Hillsborough may request and obtain from the Hillsborough Township Ethical Standards 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.
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 local government officer or employee unless the Board, in directing that the opinion be made public, so determines.

§ 49-9 Complaints.

A. 
The Hillsborough Township Ethical Standards Board, upon receipt of a signed written complaint by any person alleging that the conduct of any local government officer or employee of the Township of Hillsborough serving the Township 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 Board shall make a determination as to whether the complaint is within its jurisdiction or frivolous or without any reasonable factual basis.
C. 
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 of the Township of Hillsborough against whom the complaint was filed.
D. 
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 local government officer or employee of the Township of Hillsborough against whom the complaint was filed of the nature of the complaint and the facts and circumstances set forth therein.
E. 
The local government officer or employee shall have the opportunity to present the Board with any statement or information concerning the complaint which he or she wishes.
F. 
If the Board determines that a reasonable doubt exists as to whether the local government officer or employee of the Township of Hillsborough is in conflict with the Municipal 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.
G. 
The Board shall render a decision as to whether the conduct of the local government officer or employee is in conflict with the Code of Ethics or any financial disclosure requirements. This decision shall be made by no less than 2/3 of all members of the Board.
H. 
If the Board determines that the local government 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 chapter.
I. 
Any decision of the Hillsborough Township Ethical Standards Board shall be appealable as of right to the Local Finance Board in the local government service of the Department of Community Affairs.

§ 49-10 Enforcement; violations and penalties.

A. 
An appointed local government officer or employee of the Township of Hillsborough found guilty by the Hillsborough Township Ethical Standards 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.[1] The Hillsborough Township Ethical Standards 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.
[1]
Editor's Note: Repealed by L. 1999, c. 274. See N.J.S.A. 2A:58-10 et seq.
B. 
An elected local government officer or employee of the Township of Hillsborough found guilty by the Hillsborough Township Ethical Standards 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).
C. 
The findings by the Hillsborough Township Ethical Standards Board that an appointed local government officer or employee of the Township of Hillsborough 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 or her removal, suspension, demotion or other disciplinary action by the officer or agency having the power of removal or discipline.

§ 49-11 Records.

All statements, complaints, requests or other written materials filed pursuant to this section and any rulings, opinions, judgments, transcripts or other official papers prepared pursuant to this chapter shall be preserved for a period of five years from the date of filing or preparation, as the case may be.