[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Walden 2-14-1995 by L.L. No. 1-1995 (Ch. 18 of the 1982 Code). Amendments noted where applicable.]
Editor's Note: This local law also repealed former Ch. 24, Ethics, Code of.
Pursuant to the provisions of § 806 of the General Municipal Law, the Board of Trustees of the Village of Walden recognizes that there are rules of ethical conduct for public officers and employees which must be observed if public confidence is to be maintained in our unit of local government. The proper operation of the Village government requires that its officers and employees be independent, impartial, objective, unbiased and responsible to the people of the Village of Walden; that public office should not be used for personal gain; that public officers and employees maintain the highest standards of integrity and discharge faithfully the duties of their office, regardless of personal considerations; and that the public have confidence in the officers and employees thereof. It is the intent of this chapter to promulgate these rules of ethical conduct for the officers and employees of the Village of Walden. These rules shall serve as a guide for official conduct of the officers and employees of the Village and, as adopted, shall not conflict with but shall be in addition to any prohibition of Article 18 of the General Municipal Law or any other general or special law relating to ethical conduct and interest in contracts of municipal officers and employees.
When used herein and unless otherwise expressly stated or unless the context otherwise requires, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated;
- IMMEDIATE FAMILY
- A spouse, minor child or other dependent residing in the household of a municipal officer or employee.
- Any claim, account or demand against or agreement with the Village, express or implied, including designation of a depository of public funds and a designation of an official newspaper and direct or indirect pecuniary or material benefit accruing to an officer or employee as a result of a business or a professional transaction with the Village. For the purpose of this chapter, an officer or employee shall be deemed to have a direct "interest" in the affairs of:
- A. His or her spouse, minor children and dependents.
- B. A business concern, partnership, trust or association of which such officer or employee and immediate family member are members, partners, owners, directors or employees.
- C. A corporation of which such officer or employee is an officer, director or employee.
- D. A corporation, any stock of which is owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by such officer or employee or any corporation in which such officer or employee or immediate family member owns more than 5% of said stock.
- MUNICIPAL OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE
- The Mayor, Trustees and any other elected or appointed officer or employee of the Village, whether paid or unpaid, including members of any administrative advisory board, commission or other agency thereof. For the purpose of this chapter, no person shall be deemed a "Village officer" or "Village employee" solely by reason of being a volunteer fireman or a civil defense volunteer.
- The Village of Walden or any of its boards, commissions or agencies, whether operated solely by the Village of Walden or jointly with one or more other municipalities.
- VILLAGE CONSULTANT
- Any individual, group or firm which renders service on behalf of the Village to any Village officer, Village board, Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals or any other Village agency or commission.
Public officers and employees are agents of the public purpose and hold office for the benefit of the public. Their conduct in both their official and private affairs should be above reproach. Every officer and employee of the Village of Walden shall be subject to and abide by the following standards of conduct:
Gifts. No officer, employee or consultant of the Village shall, directly or indirectly, solicit any gift or accept or receive any gift having a value of more than $75, whether in the form of money, services, loan, travel, entertainment, hospitality, thing or promise or 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. The recipient of any such gift or gratuity shall immediately return the same to the giver and shall notify the Village of Walden Board of Ethics, in writing, of this incident.
Disclosure of confidential information. No officer, employee or consultant of the Village shall disclose confidential information acquired by him or her in the course of his or her official duties or use such information to further his or her personal interests or the private interest of others.
Rendering of services. No municipal officer or employee of the Village, as defined in § 38-2, shall receive compensation, express or implied, with respect to any matter which is, was or will be before him or her for determination in his or her official capacity as a municipal officer or employee of the Village of Walden. In addition, no municipal officer or employee of the Village of Walden shall receive compensation or enter into any agreement, express or implied, to receive compensation in relation to any matter before any municipal agency, department or board or commission, except as a part of his or her official responsibilities to the agency, department, board or commission, or as a function of the official position of the municipal officer or employee.
Use of public property. No officer or employee shall request or permit the use of Village-owned vehicles, equipment, material or property for personal convenience or profit, except when such services are available to the public generally or are provided as municipal policy for the use of such officer or employee in the conduct of official business.
Use of position to achieve preferential treatment. No officer or employee of the Village shall use or attempt to use his or her official position to secure unwarranted privileges or exemptions for himself or herself or others or grant any special consideration, treatment or advantage to any citizen beyond that which is available to every other citizen.
Interest in appointments. Canvassing of members of the Board of Trustees, directly or indirectly, in order to obtain preferential consideration in connection with any appointment to the municipal service shall disqualify the candidate for appointment, except with reference to positions filled by appointment by the Board of Trustees.
Disclosure of interest in legislation or other matters involving a conflict of interest.
Any Village officer, board member, employee or consultant who has a direct or indirect financial or other private interest in any matter before the Board of Trustees or any other board or commission of the Village and who participates in the discussion before, makes a recommendation to, or gives an opinion to the Board of Trustees or any other board or commission on that matter shall publicly disclose in the official record of the Board of Trustees or other board or commission the nature and extent of such interest.
All Village officers, board members, department heads and their supervisory assistants and all Village consultants are required, within 30 days of taking office, or within 30 days of the effective date of this chapter, to file a disclosure statement on a form as provided by the Village of Walden pursuant to this section. In the event that a change occurs with respect to any of the information required on the aforesaid disclosure statement, the party required to file such a statement shall file an amended statement reflecting any such change in circumstances within 60 days from the date thereof, unless requested by the Board of Ethics to do so sooner, in which case such amended statement shall be filed within 10 days of the request for the same. Failure to file the required disclosure statement or any amendment there to in a timely fashion shall be deemed a violation of this chapter.
If any Village officer, board member, employee or consultant has a potential or actual conflict of interest in any matter in which he or she encounters in the performance of his or her official Village duties, he or she shall make known to all concerned parties the nature of such conflict and shall refrain from any participation whatsoever in the matter so as to avoid a true conflict. In all cases of potential or actual conflict, the Village Board shall be made aware of the situation by the person in conflict, along with any other concerned parties, including the Village of Walden Board of Ethics.
Investments or other interests in conflict with official duties. No officer or employee of the Village shall invest or hold any investment, directly or indirectly, in any financial, business, commercial or other private transaction which creates a conflict with his or her official duties.
Private employment. No Village officer, board member, employee or consultant shall accept other employment which will impair his or her independence of judgment in the exercise of his or her official Village duties.
Future employment. No Village officer, employee or consultant shall, after termination of service or employment with the Village, appear before any board or agency of the Village of Walden in relation to any case, proceeding or application in which he or she personally participated during the period of his or her service or employment or which was under his or her active consideration.
Political activity. No appointed official or employee shall use his or her official position on behalf of any political party, candidate, club, association, society or committee. In addition, no appointed Village official or employee shall hold office in any political party, club or association, society or committee. This provision shall not be interpreted or construed as precluding any municipal officer or employee from being involved in the political affairs of the Village as a private citizen, nor shall it exempt any municipal officer or employee from any federal, state or local rules, regulations, codes of conduct or other restrictions imposed by law.
[Amended 5-9-2006 by L.L. No. 4-2006]
Representation by consultant. No Village consultant shall appear on behalf of private interest before the Board of Trustees or any other Village board or commission or agency thereof or actively employed by the Village.
No officer or employee of the Village or of any service or other organization chartered by or directly or indirectly sponsored or supported by the Village shall:
Discriminate or cause involuntary segregation, directly or indirectly, based upon creed, color, national origin, sex or disability or allow the preceding to be factors affecting the recruitment, selection, placement, assignment, compensation or promotion of any officer, employee or member of such service or other organization.
Permit, directly or indirectly, the use of any Village property, equipment or service by any person or persons, organizations, corporations or any other group which directly or indirectly discriminates as set forth in Subsection A.
When an officer or employee or consultant has doubt as to the applicability of a provision of this chapter to a particular situation, he or she should apply to the Board of Ethics constituted for the implementation of this chapter for an advisory opinion and be guided by that opinion when given. The officer, employee or consultant shall have the opportunity to present his or her interpretation of the facts at issue and of the applicable provisions of this chapter before such advisory decision is made. This chapter shall be operative at all instances covered by its provisions, except if superseded by an applicable statutory provision.
[Amended 5-9-2006 by L.L. No. 4-2006]
The Clerk of the Village shall cause a copy of Article 18 of the General Municipal Law and the Code of Ethics adopted by this chapter to be distributed to every officer and employee of the Village prior to their entering upon the duties of their offices. The Clerk shall obtain each municipal officer's and employee's signature acknowledging that they have received and read Article 18 and this chapter. Furthermore, the Clerk of the Village, within 30 days of the beginning of each official year, shall redistribute to each incumbent elected and appointed officer a copy of Article 18 and this chapter and shall obtain from each elected and appointed officer their signature acknowledging that they have received and reread Article 18 and this chapter. Failure to distribute any such copy or failure of any officer or employee to receive such copy shall have no effect on the duty of compliance with such Code of Ethics, nor the enforcement of provisions thereof.
There is hereby established a Board of Ethics of the Village consisting of five members, one of whom shall be a municipal officer or employee of the Village, and a majority of such members shall be persons other than a municipal officer or employee. All members shall be appointed by the Board of Trustees for a term of five years, each term to expire at the end of the calendar year, except that of those first appointed, one shall be appointed for five years; one shall be appointed for four years; one shall be appointed for three years; one shall be appointed for two years and one shall be appointed for one year. The Board shall elect its own Chairman. Three members of the Board shall constitute a quorum. A vote of at least four members shall be required for the Board to take any action. The Village Attorney shall provide such legal and advisory services to the Board of Ethics as it may require in the performance of its duties. There shall be a recording secretary who shall be the Clerk of the Board in charge of its minutes books and records.
The Board of Ethics shall have the powers and duties prescribed by Article 18 of the General Municipal Law and shall render advisory opinions to the officers and employees of the Village with respect to Article 18 of the General Municipal Law and any Code of Ethics adopted pursuant to this chapter. Such advisory opinions shall be rendered only upon the written request of a municipal officer or employee, or consultant, who is requesting the opinion as to their own conduct. No such opinions shall be made public or disclosed by the Board of Ethics or any member thereof, unless required by the New York Freedom of Information Law (New York Public Officers Law Article 6), court order, or for use in a disciplinary proceeding or investigation and/or hearing pursuant to § 38-7D. In addition, the Board may make recommendations with respect to the drafting and adoption of a Code of Ethics or amendments thereto upon request of the Board of Trustees. The Board shall also have the responsibility to review disclosure statements filed pursuant to § 38-3G(2) of this chapter.
[Amended 12-3-2013 by L.L. No. 9-2013]
The Board of Ethics shall convene at least twice a year and at such times as may otherwise be necessary. The Board of Ethics may adopt rules and regulations relative to the conduct of its business but may only render advisory opinions subject to these limitations:
The Board of Ethics shall have the power to conduct investigations and hearings to determine whether any member of the Village Board, any Village consultant, any duly appointed member of the Planning Board, any duly appointed member of the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Village Clerk, Village Treasurer or Village Manager has violated any of the standards of conduct set forth in §§ 38-3 and 38-4 of the Village Code of Ethics. The Board of Ethics has the power to subpoena any individual (whether or not a Village officer, employee or consultant), and any document or thing, which the Board of Ethics deems necessary and/or advisable to the resolution of any pending investigation or hearing. The Board of Ethics may initiate such investigation and hearing on its own initiative by a vote of a minimum of four of its members. Any alleged violation must be demonstrated to exist by clear and convincing evidence that such Village official, employee or consultant knowingly and intentionally violated any of the standards of conduct set forth in §§ 38-3 and 38-4 of the Village Code of Ethics.
[Added 12-3-2013 by L.L. No. 9-2013]
If a violation is found to exist and has been committed by a member of the Village Board, Village Planning Board, Village Zoning Board of Appeals, Village Clerk, Village Treasurer or Village Manager, the matter shall be referred to the Village Board for consideration of the imposition of penalties as set forth in § 38-8 of the Village Code of Ethics and/or a monetary civil penalty in an amount not to exceed $5,000.
[Added 12-3-2013 by L.L. No. 9-2013]
In addition to any penalty contained in any other provision of law, any person who shall knowingly and intentionally violate any of the provisions of the code may be fined, suspended or removed from office or employment, as the case may be, in the manner provided by law.