Borough of Closter, NJ
Bergen County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Closter 9-11-1991 by Ord. No. 1991:615. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Officers and employees — See Ch. 43.
Personnel policies — See Ch. 48.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
AGENCY
Any agency, board, governing body, including the chief executive officer, office, commission or other instrumentality within the Borough of Closter and any independent local authority created by or appointed under the authority of the Borough of Closter which performs function other than of a purely advisory nature.
BUSINESS ORGANIZATION
Any corporation, partnership, firm, enterprise, franchise, association, trust, sole proprietorship, union or other legal entity.
[Amended 1-3-1994 by Ord. No. 1993:663]
EMPLOYEE
Any person, whether compensated or not, whether part-time or full-time, employed by or serving on a Borough agency who is not an officer.
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.
MEMBER OF IMMEDIATE FAMILY
The spouse or dependent child of an officer or employee residing in the same household.
OFFICER
[Amended 7-22-1992 by Ord. No. 1992:626]
Any person, whether compensated or not, whether part-time or full-time:
A. 
Elected to any office of a Borough agency;
B. 
Serving on a Borough agency which has the authority to enact ordinances, approve development applications or grant zoning variances;
C. 
Who is a member of an independent municipal authority;
D. 
Who formulates management policies and practices and who is charged with the responsibility of directing the effectuation of such management policies and practices; or
E. 
Whose functional responsibilities or knowledge in connection with the issue involved in the collective negotiations process would make his or her membership in any appropriate negotiating unit incompatible with his or her official duties, and shall include but not be limited to the Mayor, members of the Borough Council, the Borough Administrator, the Superintendent of Public Works, the Director of the Department of Recreation, the Chief of Police, members of the Police Department who hold the rank of Captain or above, the Tax Assessor, the Borough Clerk, the Borough Attorney, the Borough Engineer, the Borough Planning Consultant, the Borough Auditor, the Municipal Prosecutor, the Public Defender, Planning Board members, the Planning Board Attorney, Zoning Board of Adjustment members, Zoning Board of Adjustment Attorneys, Local Assistance Board members, the Director of Public Assistance, the Fire Chief, Library Board members, the Library Director, the Tax Collector/Treasurer, members of the Board of Health, the Health Officer/Sanitarian, the Shade Tree Commission members, all Borough Deputies, the Construction Code Official/Zoning Officer, the Borough Fire Official, members of the Board of Ethics and the Attorney to the Board of Ethics.
OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE
An officer or employee of the Borough of Closter or of an agency under the authority of or appointed by the Borough of Closter.
[Amended 9-23-1992 by Ord. No. 1992:260]
Officers and employees of the Borough of Closter shall comply with the following provisions:
A. 
No officer or employee of the Borough of Closter or member of his or her immediate family shall have an interest in any 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. 
Independent local authorities.
(1) 
No independent local authority shall for a period of one year 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 Annotated 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 officer or employee shall use or attempt to use his or her official position to secure unwarranted privileges or advantages for himself or herself or others.
D. 
No officer or employee shall act in his or her official capacity in any manner where he or she, 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, members 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 contribution 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 use, allow to be used or disclose 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 Borough in connection with any cause, proceeding, application or other matter pending before any Borough agency. 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, nor shall this provision be applicable to the Borough Public Defender with respect to representation of defendants in the Municipal Court.
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, professional 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 member of his or her immediate family, whether directly or indirectly, in return therefor.
K. 
No officer or employee of the Borough or any of its agencies shall direct or cause any employee of the Borough to do or perform any service or work outside of public work or employment, nor shall any officer or employee of the Borough perform any such service or work for such officer or employee.
L. 
Nothing shall prohibit any officer or employee of the Borough of Closter 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.
M. 
No officer or employee shall approve or disapprove or in any way recommend the payment of any bill, voucher or indebtedness owed or allegedly owed by the Borough in which he or she has a direct or indirect interest.
N. 
No officer or employee elected or appointed in the Borough shall request, use or permit the use of any public property, vehicle, equipment, material, labor or service for personal convenience or the private advantage of himself or herself or any other person. This prohibition shall not be deemed to prohibit an official or employee from requesting, using or permitting the use of such public property, vehicle, equipment, material, labor or service, which it is the general practice to make available to the public at large or which is provided as a matter of stated public policy for the use of officers and employees in the conduct of official business.
A. 
All officers and employees of the Borough of Closter shall annually file a financial disclosure statement.
B. 
All financial disclosure statements shall include the following information which shall specify, where applicable, the name and address of each source, the officer's or employee's name, residence address and job title:
(1) 
Each source of income, earned or unearned, exceeding $2,000, received by the officer or employer 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 officer or employee or member of his or her immediate family has a financial 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 writing received by the officer or employee 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 officer or employee 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 officer or employee or a member of his or her immediate family had any interest, including a personal interest, during the preceding calendar year.
(5) 
The address and brief description of all real property in this state in which the officer or employee or a member of his or her immediate family held a financial or personal interest during the preceding calendar year. As to any interest in real property in his or her own name or in conjunction with another person, the officer or employee shall set forth the nature of his or her interest and the identity of the other person having another interest in the property.
(6) 
Whether or not he or she, his or her spouse, to his or her knowledge, or any business association in which he or she has an interest at present or in the past 12 months has had any interest, directly or indirectly, in any application to the Borough or any Borough agencies or in any license, bid, contract, transaction or matter involving the Borough or any of its agencies or requiring any official action by the Borough or any of its officers or public bodies. If the officer, employee, spouse or business association in which he or she has an interest had such interest, the officer or employee shall fully set forth and describe the matter, including in his or her description the names of the persons involved, the name of the Borough agency or public body involved, whether or not the matter is still pending, if concluded, the outcome of the matter, and the name of each person who handled the matter for the Borough or any of its agencies or public bodies.
C. 
Financial disclosure shall be made on the financial disclosure statement forms promulgated by the New Jersey Local Finance Board in accordance with the New Jersey Local Government Ethics Law[1] and addenda to such forms, as required. The Borough Clerk shall make the forms available to the officers and employees required to file a financial disclosure statement. All statements shall be filed on or before April 30 each year, except that each local government officer shall file a financial disclosure statement within 30 days of taking office. The original statement shall be filed with the Borough Clerk. A copy of the statement shall be filed with the Local Finance Board and with the Borough of Closter Board of Ethics.
[Amended 5-25-2011 by Ord. No. 2011:1087]
[1]
Editor's Note: See N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.1 et seq.
D. 
All financial disclosure statements shall be public records.
A. 
Organization.
[Amended 7-22-1992 by Ord. No. 1992:626]
(1) 
Appointment and membership.
[Amended 5-25-2011 by Ord. No. 2011:1087]
(a) 
There is hereby established the Borough of Closter Board of Ethics consisting of six members who are residents of the Borough who shall hold no other office or employment with any public body in the Borough. The members of the Board shall be appointed by the Mayor and Council in the manner set forth in Subsection A(1)(b) of this section. 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 following Borough organizations shall be requested by the Mayor and Council at least 30 days prior to appointment to recommend to the Mayor and Council the names of two candidates for appointment to the Board of Ethics: Library Trustees, Recreation Committee, Shade Tree Commission, Environmental Commission, Improvement Commission and Historic Preservation Commission. The two candidates recommended by each organization shall not be of the same political party. The candidates selected shall not be members of the aforesaid organizations. Each Board has 30 days from the date the Chairman receives the request to respond. In the event none of the above-mentioned Borough organizations make the requested recommendations within 30 days of receipt, the Mayor and Council shall nominate and/or appoint members without obtaining the recommendation(s).
(2) 
The members of the Borough of Closter Board of Ethics shall annually elect a Chairperson from among the membership.
(3) 
The members shall serve for a term 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.
(4) 
Members of the Board shall serve without compensation but shall be reimbursed for necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties under this section.
(5) 
All hearings required pursuant to this section 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.
(6) 
In the event that a hearing is to be held, the officer or employee charged with any violation hereof shall be accorded due process of law, including but not limited to the following:
(a) 
Right to counsel.
(b) 
Prehearing discovery.
(c) 
Right to take sworn oral and written testimony from any person.
(d) 
Reasonable notice of hearing.
(e) 
Right to subpoena persons and documents.
(f) 
Right to make stenographic record of the hearing.
(g) 
Right of examination and cross-examination.
B. 
Facilities and staff.
(1) 
The Mayor and Council shall provide the Borough of Closter Board of Ethics 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.
(2) 
All necessary expenses incurred by the Borough of Closter Board of Ethics and its members shall be paid, upon certification of the Chairperson of the Board, by the Borough Treasurer within the limits of funds appropriated in the annual budget or by emergency appropriations for those purposes.
[Amended 1-3-1994 by Ord. No. 1993:663]
(3) 
The Borough of Closter Board of Ethics may request and receive assistance from Borough officers and employees, including the Borough Clerk and Borough 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 Mayor and Council for those purposes in the annual budget.
C. 
Adoption of the Code of Ethics.
(1) 
Within 90 days after the appointment of the Borough of Closter Board of Ethics, the Board shall promulgate by resolution a Code of Ethics for all officers and employees serving the Borough.[1] Officers and employees serving an independent Borough authority shall be deemed to be serving the Borough for the purposes of this section. Until such time as the Borough of Closter Board of Ethics shall have adopted a Code of Ethics, the provisions set forth in § 18-2 shall serve as the Code of Ethics. The Code of Ethics promulgated by the Board of Ethics shall be either identical to the provisions set forth in § 18-2 or more restrictive but shall not be less restrictive.
[1]
Editor's Note: The Board of Ethics has adopted a formal Code of Ethics, which is on file in the office of the Borough Clerk.
(2) 
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 Borough and shall be distributed to the Borough Clerk for circulation among the officers and employees serving the Borough.
(3) 
The Borough of Closter Board of Ethics 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 Borough or any other person wishing to be heard shall be permitted to testify.
(4) 
As a result of the hearing, the Board of Ethics may amend or supplement the Code of Ethics as it deems necessary.
(5) 
If the Code of Ethics is not identical to the provisions set forth in § 18-2, the Borough of Closter Board of Ethics shall, as required by law, submit the Code of Ethics to the New Jersey Local Finance Board for approval.
(6) 
If the Local Finance Board fails to act within 60 days of the submission, the Code of Ethics shall be deemed approved.
(7) 
A Code of Ethics identical to the provisions set forth in § 18-2 shall take effect 10 days after the public hearing.
(8) 
The Borough of Closter Board of Ethics shall forward a copy of the Code of Ethics to the Borough Clerk and shall make copies available to officers and employees serving the Borough.
D. 
Powers and duties of the Board of Ethics.
(1) 
The Borough of Closter Board of Ethics shall have the following powers:
(a) 
To initiate, receive, hear and review complaints and hold hearings with regard to possible violations of the Borough Code of Ethics or financial disclosure requirements by Borough officers or employees.
(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 Borough which may warrant the institution of other legal proceedings by the County Prosecutor or Attorney General.
(d) 
To render advisory opinions to officers or employees serving the Borough 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 and employees serving the Borough and to impose penalties for the violations thereof as are authorized by this section.
(f) 
To adopt rules and regulations and to do other things as are necessary to implement the purposes of this section.
(2) 
The Board of Ethics shall report to the Mayor and Council by May 15 of each year the name of any officer or employee who has failed to file an annual disclosure statement.
(3) 
The Board shall file an annual report of its activities with the Mayor and Council by December 15 of each year.
E. 
Advisory opinions.
(1) 
An officer or employee of the Borough may request and obtain from the Borough of Closter Board of Ethics 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.
(2) 
Advisory opinions shall not be made public except when the Board, by a vote of 2/3 of all of its members, directs that the opinion be made public.
(3) 
Public advisory opinions shall not disclose the name of the officer or employee unless the Board of Ethics, in directing that the opinion be made public, so determines.
F. 
Complaints.
(1) 
The Borough of Closter Board of Ethics, upon receipt of a signed written complaint by any person alleging that the conduct of any officer or employee serving the Borough 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.
(2) 
The Board shall make a determination as to whether the complaint is within its jurisdiction or frivolous or without any reasonable factual basis.
(3) 
If the Board shall conclude that the complaint is outside its jurisdiction, frivolous or without actual basis, it shall reduce that conclusion to writing and shall transmit a copy thereof to the complainant and to the officer or employee of the Borough of Closter against whom the complaint was filed.
(4) 
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 the Borough of Closter against whom the complaint was filed of the nature of the complaint and the facts and circumstance set forth therein.
(5) 
The officer or employee shall have the opportunity to present the Board of Ethics with any statement or information concerning the complaint which he or she wishes.
(6) 
If the Board of Ethics determines that a reasonable doubt exists as to whether the officer or employee of the Borough of Closter is in conflict with the Borough Code of Ethics or any financial disclosure requirements, the Board of Ethics shall conduct a hearing concerning the possible violation and any other facts and circumstances which may have come to the attention of the Board of Ethics with respect to the conduct of the officer or employee.
(7) 
The Board of Ethics 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. This decision shall be made by no fewer than 2/3 of all members of the Board.
(8) 
If the Board of Ethics 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 chapter.
(9) 
Upon the conclusion of any hearing pursuant to this section, the Board of Ethics shall make a written report to the Mayor and Council.
G. 
Enforcement and penalties.
(1) 
An appointed officer or employee of the Borough of Closter found guilty by the Borough of Closter Board of Ethics 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 or 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. The Borough of Closter Board of Ethics shall report its finding 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.
(2) 
An elected officer or employee of the Borough of Closter found guilty by the Borough of Closter Board of Ethics 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.
(3) 
The finding of the Borough of Closter Board of Ethics that an appointed officer or employee of the Borough of Closter 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. When a person who is in the career service is found to have violated the provisions of 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 Annotated and the rules promulgated pursuant thereto.
H. 
Records of the Board of Ethics. All statements, complaints, requests or other written materials filed pursuant to this chapter 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.