[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Woodbury 8-12-2008 by L.L. No. 6-2008. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Defense and indemnification — See Ch. 31.
The Village Board of the Village of Woodbury recognizes that there are rules of ethical conduct for public officers and employees which must be observed if a high degree of moral conduct is to be obtained and 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 Woodbury; that public office 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 purpose of this chapter to implement these objectives through the establishment of standards of conduct to provide for punishment of violations of such standards and to create an Ethics Committee to render advisory opinions to the Village's officers and employees as provided for herein.
The standards, prohibitive acts and procedures established herein are in addition to any prohibitive acts, conflicts of interest provisions or procedures prescribed by statute of the State of New York and also in addition to common law rules and judicial decisions relating to the conduct of Village officers to the extent that the same are more severe in their application than this chapter.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- BOARD MEMBER or VILLAGE EMPLOYEE
- Any elected or appointed official, including but not limited to Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals and any and all committees or any employee of the Village, whether paid or not, 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 employee solely by reason of being a volunteer fireman or civil defense volunteer or being employed by the Village as a result of a contractual agreement.
- IMMEDIATE FAMILY MEMBER
- A spouse, minor child, stepchildren, mother, father, brothers, sisters, grandparents, grandchildren, in-laws or other dependents or relatives residing in the household of a Village officer or employee.
- Any claim, account or demand against or in agreement with the Village, express or implied, including designation of a depository of public funds and the 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 professional transaction with the Village. For the purposes of this chapter, an officer or employee shall be deemed to have a direct interest in the affairs of:
- A. His/Her spouse, minor child, stepchildren, mother, father, brothers, sisters, grandparents, grandchildren, in-laws and other dependents or relatives.
- B. A business concern, partnership or association of which such officer or employee is a member, partner, owner, director or employee.
- 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.
- Any spouse, child, grandchild, parent, grandparent, sibling, in-law, aunt, uncle, first cousin, niece, nephew, stepparent, stepchild, half-brother or half-sister.
- The Village of Woodbury or any of its boards, commissions, committees or agencies, whether operated or funded solely by the Village of Woodbury or jointly with one or more other municipalities.
- VILLAGE CONSULTANT
- Any individual, group or firm which renders services on behalf of the Village to any Village officer, Village Board, Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals or any other Village agency or commission.
- VILLAGE OFFICIAL
- Any elected officials of the Village of Woodbury.
No board member, Village employee or Village consultant shall have any interest, financial or otherwise, direct or indirect, or engage in any business or transaction or professional activity or incur any obligation of any nature, which is in conflict with or might reasonably tend to conflict with the proper discharge of his duties in the public interest.
No board member, Village employee or Village consultant shall accept other employment which will impair his independence of judgment in the exercise of his official Village duties.
No board member, Village employee or Village consultant shall engage in, solicit, negotiate for or promise to accept private employment or render services for private interests when such employment or service creates a conflict with or impairs the proper discharge of his official duties.
Disclosure of confidential information.
No board member, Village employee or Village consultant shall disclose confidential information acquired by him in the course of his official duties or use such information to further his personal interests or the private interests of others.
No board member, Village employee or Village consultant shall accept employment or engage in a business or professional activity which will require him to disclose confidential information gained by reason of his official position or authority.
Misuse of authority. No board member, Village employee or Village consultant shall use or attempt to use his official position to secure unwarranted privileges or exemptions for himself or others.
Misuse of privilege. No board member, Village employee or Village consultant shall by his conduct give reasonable basis for the impression that another can improperly influence him or unduly enjoy his favor in the performance of his official duties or that he is affected by kinship, rank, position or influence of any party or person.
Compensation. No board member, Village employee or Village consultant shall receive compensation or enter into any agreement to receive compensation, express or implied, with respect to any matter which is, was or will be before the Village for determination in the official capacity of any board member, Village employee or Village consultant of the Village of Woodbury.
Gifts. During a single calendar year, no board member, Village employee or Village consultant shall solicit, directly or indirectly, receive or accept any gift or gifts having a total aggregate value of $50, or more, whether in the form of money, services, loan, travel, entertainment, hospitality, thing or promise, or in any other form, from any one person, partnership, corporation or any entity which has a business relationship with the Village of Woodbury. Gifts of money or any form of money (money orders, checks, stocks, bonds, etc.) are not permitted at all in any amount.
No board member, Village employee or Village consultant of the Village of Woodbury shall invest or hold any investment, directly or indirectly, in any financial, business, commercial or other private transaction, which creates a conflict with his official duties.
No board member, Village employee or Village consultant shall engage in any enterprises which he has reason to believe may be directly involved in decisions to be made or advice to be given by him or which will otherwise create substantial conflict between his duty and the public interest and his private interest.
No board member, Village employee or Village consultant shall, within 12 months after the termination of his service, appear as part of his/her employment before any board, agency or commission of the Village of Woodbury or conduct any official Village business, transactions or professional activity with any board member, Village employee or Village consultant where special advantages by virtue of prior contact and relationship with the Village may be realized.
No board member, Village employee or Village consultant shall appear before any board, agency or commission of the Village of Woodbury in relation to any case, proceeding or application in which he was directly concerned and personally participated or which was under his active consideration during the period of his service or employment.
Discrimination. No board member, Village employee or consultant 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 Village officer, Village Board member, Planning Board member, Zoning Board of Appeals member, Village employee or member of such service or other organization.
Permit, directly or indirectly, the use of any Village property, equipment or services by any person or persons, organizations, corporations or any other group which directly or indirectly discriminates as set forth in Subsection I(1) above.
Policy. Employees' relatives will not be employed by the Village on a full-time basis under any of the following circumstances:
Where one of the parties would have authority (or practical power) to supervise, appoint, remove, or discipline the other;
Where one party would be responsible for auditing the work of the other;
Where both parties would report to the same immediate supervisor. Every other option, including reassignment within the Village workforce, would be considered in good faith before layoff;
Where other circumstances might lead to potential conflict among the parties or conflict between the interest of one or both parties and the best interests of the Village; or
Where one of the parties is an elected official, except when the family member is currently employed by the Village prior to the elected official obtaining office or if the family member is currently employed by the Village and becomes a family member of an official.
Any employee currently employed prior to the adoption of this chapter shall be exempt.
Representation by consultant. No Village consultant shall appear on behalf of private interests before any board, commission or agency of the Village of Woodbury while actively employed by the Village; nor shall a Village consultant, after being no longer retained by the Village, represent the interest of any person or entity before any Village board, commission or agency if the matter was pending when the consultant's retention by the Village ended.
Political activity. No board member, Village employee or Village consultant shall use his official position on behalf of any political party, club, association, society or committee. This provision shall not be interpreted or construed as precluding any board member, Village employee or Village consultant from being involved in the political affairs of the Village of Woodbury as a private citizen, nor shall it exempt any board member, Village employee or Village consultant from any federal, state or local rules, regulations, codes of conduct or other restrictions imposed by this chapter. No board member shall hold the office of Chairman in any political party or be employed as a lobbyist. No more than two members of the Ethics Committee may be enrolled or registered members of the same political party. No Ethics Committee member shall hold the office of Chairman in any political party or be employed as a lobbyist. An Ethics Committee member may contribute money to but not otherwise participate in any Village election campaign.
All elected and appointed officers, board members, department heads 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, in writing, with the Mayor's office, disclosing all land holdings in the incorporated area of the Village of Woodbury, whether held personally, by a spouse, by a dependent, jointly with a spouse or dependent, or immediate family members, jointly in partnership with others, as a partnership, limited partnership, corporation, trust or any other similar entity, the name of any partnership, corporation or trust of which he or his spouse or dependent is an officer, director or employee or which he or a spouse or a dependent, legally or beneficially, owns or controls more than 5% of the outstanding stock or interest, and his position, and his spouse or dependent's position, if any, with the partnership, corporation or trust. In addition, anyone who holds a license as either a real estate broker or real estate salesperson will disclose that fact and the name of the real estate concern that they are affiliated with and the location of their office.
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 15 days from the date thereof. Failure to file the required disclosure statement in a timely fashion shall be deemed a violation of this chapter.
If any board member, Village employee or Village consultant has a potential or actual conflict of interest in any matter which he encounters in the performance of his official Village duties, he shall make known to all concerned parties the nature of such conflict, within 10 days, and shall refrain immediately from any participation whatsoever in the matter so as to avoid 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 Woodbury Ethics Committee. Said conflict should be made known to the proper parties in writing.
There is hereby established an Ethics Committee consisting of five members, one of whom may be a Village officer or employee and a majority of whom shall be persons other than Village officers or employees. All members shall reside in the Village of Woodbury and shall serve without compensation but shall be reimbursed for reasonable and necessary expenses. These should be cleared with the Village Board before expenses are incurred. The Village will establish a budget to cover office supplies and legal expenses.
All members of the Ethics Board shall be appointed by the Village Board for a term of five years, each term to expire at the end of the Village's official year; except that of those first appointed, one shall be appointed for a term of five years, one for a term of four years, one for a term of three years, one for a term of two years and one for a term of one year.
Background check. Any applicant for a position on the Ethics Committee will sign an affidavit attesting to the fact that he/she has not been convicted of any crime. An applicant for a position on the Ethics Committee will also sign a release allowing the Village Board to conduct a FICO credential investigation solely for the purpose of ascertaining the applicant's credit score.
The Village Attorney may, with Village Board approval, provide such legal and advisory services to the Ethics Committee as it may require in the performance of its duties.
At its first meeting each year, which shall be a public meeting, the Village Ethics Committee shall elect a Chairman from among its membership. A vote of at least three members shall be required for the Board to take any recommendation. The Board shall meet at least twice a year and at such times as it may otherwise be necessary. The Chairman or any three members may call a meeting of the Board which shall be properly noticed unless it is a closed session for inquiry or covered by Open Meetings Law criteria.
Editor's Note: See Article 7 of the Public Officers Law.
The Ethics Committee shall have the following powers and duties:
To possess the right to prescribe and promulgate rules for its procedures of operation in a manner consistent with this code.
To render advisory opinions, upon written request, to any board, department, board member, Village employee or Village consultant with respect to the interpretation or application of any provisions of this code. Opinions and requests for opinions shall be public record and shall be indexed and maintained on file in an appropriate manner by the Ethics Committee in the Village Hall with a copy to the Records Management Officer. Such opinions shall be rendered only upon written request by the officer, employee or appointed official concerning only the subject of the inquiry as it pertains to the requesting individual's own filing requirements. Such opinions shall not be made public or disclosed unless required by the Freedom of Information Law (Public Officers Law Article 6) or required for use in a disciplinary proceeding or proceeding under § 39-10 involving the officer, employee or appointed official who required the advisory opinion.
To review disclosure statements pursuant to § 39-5, Disclosure of interest, of this code. Upon receipt of the disclosure forms, determine if all those who are required to have, in fact, filed these forms. The Ethics Committee should also review all forms and determine if they are complete, if further information is needed and if any conflicts exist. Such statements shall be filed and maintained in Village Hall. Public access to these documents shall be made upon application and for a legitimate reason as noted in § 39-5.
To prepare an annual report to the Village Board, summarizing the activities of the Ethics Committee, and recommend changes to this code, as necessary.
To conduct inquiries and recommend appropriate sanctions of alleged violations of this code upon written notification of such alleged violation to the Village Board of the Village of Woodbury. A licensed attorney shall be present to assist the Ethics Committee in this role.
To refer any matter within its jurisdiction to the County or State Ethics Board, as may be appropriate.
The members of the Ethics Committee shall not receive compensation for the performance of their official duties, but shall be reimbursed for reasonable and necessary expenses.
In addition to the penalties defined specifically for violation of this chapter and other pertinent sections of local, state and federal law, members of the Ethics Committee may be removed for cause by a two-thirds vote of the Village Board. Prior to removal, the Ethics Committee member shall be given written notice of the grounds for removal and an opportunity to demand and receive a hearing before the Village Board.
In addition to any penalty contained in any other provision of law, any board member, Village officer or Village consultant who shall knowingly and intentionally violate any of the provisions of this code may be fined, reprimanded, suspended or removed from office or employment in the manner provided by law.
The Mayor's office shall cause a copy of Article 18 of the General Municipal Law and this Code of Ethics to be distributed to every board member, Village employee and Village consultant within 15 days of the effective date of this chapter. In addition, every such board member, Village employee or Village consultant shall receive a copy of the same upon being engaged in or taking office in the Village of Woodbury. Failure to distribute any such copy or failure of any board member, Village employee or Village consultant to receive such copy shall have no effect on the duty of compliance with this code or the enforcement of provisions thereof. The Village Mayor shall further cause a copy of this chapter to be kept posted conspicuously in each public building under the jurisdiction of the Village. Failure to so post this chapter shall have no effect on the duty of compliance herewith or the enforcement of provisions hereof. A copy of this chapter shall be included in the Village's Employee Manual.
Pursuant to § 806 of the General Municipal Law, within 30 days of the adoption of this chapter, the Village Clerk shall file a copy thereof with the Temporary State Commission on Local Government Ethics, as established by § 813 of the General Municipal Law.
The Village Board may appropriate moneys from the general Village funds for the maintenance of and personal services to the Ethics Committee established hereunder, but such Ethics Committee may not commit the expenditure of Village moneys except within the appropriations provided herein.
If any clause, sentence, paragraph, word or section or part of this Village Code of Ethics shall be adjudged by any court of competent jurisdiction to be unconstitutional, illegal or invalid, such judgment shall not affect, impair or invalidate the remainder thereof but shall be confined in its operation to the clause, sentence, paragraph, word, section or part thereof directly involved in the controversy in which such judgment shall have been rendered.