Borough of Palisades Park, NJ
Bergen County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Palisades Park 9-26-1991 by Ord. No. 1138. (This ordinance also repealed former Ch. 32, Ethics, Code of, adopted 7-8-1976 as Section 2-17 of the Revised General Ordinances of 1975.) Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Administration of government — See Ch. 4.
Officers and employees — See Ch. 48.
This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Borough of Palisades Park Code of Ethics."
The Borough Council of the Borough of Palisades Park finds and declares that:
A. 
Public office and employment are a public trust.
B. 
The vitality and stability of representative democracy depend upon the public's confidence in the integrity of its elected 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.
A. 
It is the purpose of this chapter to provide a method of assuring that standards of ethical conduct and financial disclosure requirements for officers and employees of the Borough of Palisades Park shall be clear, consistent, uniform in their application and enforceable and to provide those officers or employees with advice and information concerning the 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.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See 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,[2] and under the further authority granted to the Borough of Palisades Park under the provisions of Titles 40 and 40A of the New Jersey Statutes.
[2]
Editor's Note: See N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.1 et seq.
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 Palisades Park and any independent local authority created by or appointed under the authority of the Borough of Palisades Park which performs functions other than of a purely advisory nature.
BUSINESS ORGANIZATION
Any corporation, partnership, firm, enterprise, franchise, association, trust, sole proprietorship, union or other legal entity.
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.
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.
MEMBER OF IMMEDIATE FAMILY
The spouse or dependent child of an officer or employee residing in the same household.
OFFICER
Any person, whether compensated or not, whether part-time or full-time, who is one of the following:
A. 
Elected or Appointed Mayor.
B. 
Elected or Appointed Member of the Borough Council.
C. 
Director, Department of Public Works.
D. 
Director, Department of Recreation.
E. 
Chief of Police.
F. 
Tax Assessor.
G. 
Borough Clerk and Deputy Borough Clerk.
H. 
Borough Attorney.
I. 
Borough Engineer.
J. 
Borough Planning Consultant.
K. 
Borough Auditor.
L. 
Municipal Judge.
M. 
Borough Prosecutor.
N. 
Borough Public Defender.
O. 
Planning Board Member.
P. 
Planning Board Attorney.
Q. 
Zoning Board of Adjustment Member.
R. 
Zoning Board of Adjustment Attorney.
S. 
Local Assistance Board Member.
T. 
Director of Public Assistance.
U. 
Fire Chief.
V. 
Rent Leveling Board Member.
W. 
Rent Leveling Board Secretary/Investigator.
X. 
Environmental Commission Member.
Y. 
Parking Commission Member.
Z. 
Library Board of Trustees Member.
AA. 
Chief Financial Officer.
BB. 
Treasurer.
CC. 
Director, Palisades Park Free Public Library.
DD. 
Tax Collector.
EE. 
Any other person who is a managerial executive or confidential employee, as defined in Section 3 of the New Jersey Employer-Employee Relations Act, N.J.S.A. 34:13A-3, of the Borough of Palisades Park or of an agency created under the authority of or appointed by the Borough of Palisades Park.
OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE
An officer or employee of the Borough of Palisades Park or of an agency under the authority of or appointed by the Borough of Palisades Park but shall not include any employee of the Board of Education.
PUBLIC MEMBER
Any individual who is not personally, nor are any members of his or her immediate family, an officer, employee or the holder of any position or title, whether compensated or not, within the Borough of Palisades Park.
Officers and employees of the Borough of Palisades Park shall comply with the following provisions:
A. 
No officer or employee of the Borough of Palisades Park or member of his or her 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 or her duties in the public interest.
B. 
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.
C. 
No officer or employee shall act in his or her official capacity in any matter where he, 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 or judgment.
D. 
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.
E. 
No officer or employee, member 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 contributions 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.
F. 
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 agency of the Borough of Palisades Park. 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.
G. 
No officer shall be deemed in conflict with those 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.
H. 
No elected officer shall be prohibited from making an inquiry for information on behalf of a constituent, provided that no fee, reward or other thing of value is promised to, given to or accepted by the officer or a member of his or her immediate family, whether directly or indirectly, in return therefor.
I. 
Nothing shall prohibit any officer or employee of the Borough of Palisades Park 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.
J. 
No officer or employee elected or appointed in the borough shall, without receiving formal written authorization from the appropriate person or body, disclose any confidential information concerning any other officer or employee or any other person or any property or governmental affairs of the borough.
K. 
No officer or employee elected or appointed in the Borough Hall 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 personal, pecuniary or private interest.
L. 
No officer or employee elected or appointed in the borough shall request, use or permit the use of any public property, vehicle, equipment, 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 are provided as a matter of stated public policy for the use of officials and employees in the conduct of official business.
A. 
Officers of the borough shall annually file a financial disclosure statement with the Borough Clerk on or before August 19 of this year and thereafter on or before April 20 of each year. All financial disclosure statements shall include the following information which shall specify, where applicable, the name and address of each source and the officer's job title:
(1) 
Each source of income, earned or unearned, exceeding $2,000 received by the 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 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 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 local government officer 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 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 interest during the preceding calendar year.
B. 
The Palisades Park 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 Borough Clerk shall make the forms available to the officers and employees required to file a financial disclosure statement.
[1]
Editor's Note: See N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.1 et seq.
C. 
All financial disclosure statements filed shall be public records.
[Amended 1-14-1992 by Ord. No. 1144]
The Mayor and Council of the Borough of Palisades Park has determined that it would be in the best interests of the residents of the Borough of Palisades Park to provide the jurisdiction for the administration of the Local Government Ethics Law with the State of New Jersey. Specifically, 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 and the act pursuant to which it has been enacted.
A. 
The Borough Council shall provide the Palisades Park 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.
B. 
All necessary expenses incurred by the Palisades Park Ethical Standards Board 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.
C. 
The Palisades Park Ethical Standards Board may request and receive assistance from borough officers and employees, including the Borough Clerk and the 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 Borough Council for those purposes in the annual budget.
A. 
Within 90 days after the appointment of the Palisades Park Ethical Standards Board, the Board shall promulgate by resolution a Code of Ethics for all officers and employees serving the borough. Officers and employees serving a borough independent authority shall be deemed to be serving the borough for the purposes of this section.
B. 
The Code of Ethics promulgated by the Board shall be either identical to the provisions set forth in P.L. 1991, c. 29,[1] or more restrictive but shall not be less restrictive.
[1]
Editor's Note: See N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.1 et seq.
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 borough and shall be distributed to the Borough Clerk for circulation among all officers and employees serving the borough.
D. 
The Palisades Park Ethical Standards Board 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 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 P.L. 1991, c. 29,[2] the Palisades Park Ethical Standards Board shall, as required by law, submit the Code of Ethics to the New Jersey Local Finance Board for approval.
[2]
Editor's Note: See N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.1 et seq.
G. 
If the Commission fails to act within 60 days of the submission, the Code of Ethics shall be deemed approved.
H. 
A Code of Ethics identical to the provisions set forth in P.L. 1991, c. 29,[3] shall take effect 10 days after the public hearing.
[3]
Editor's Note: See N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.1 et seq.
I. 
The Board 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.
The Palisades Park 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 borough.
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 Attorney General.
D. 
To render advisory opinions to local 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 or employees serving the borough and to impose penalties for the violation thereof as are authorized by this chapter.
F. 
To adopt rules and regulations and do other things as are necessary to implement the purposes of this chapter.
A. 
An officer or employee of the Borough of Palisades Park may request and obtain from the Palisades Park 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 officer or employee unless the Board in directing that the opinion be made public so determines.
A. 
The Palisades Park Ethical Standards Board, upon receipt of a signed written complaint by any person alleging that the conduct of any officer or employee of the Borough of Palisades Park 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.
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 officer or employee of the Borough of Palisades Park 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 officer or employee of the Borough of Palisades Park against whom the complaint was filed of the nature of the complaint and the facts and circumstances set forth herein.
E. 
The 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 officer or employee of the Borough of Palisades Park 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 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 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.
A. 
An appointed officer or employee of the Borough of Palisades Park found guilty by the Palisades Park 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 Palisades Park Ethical Standards Board shall report its findings 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.
[1]
Editor's Note: N.J.S.A. 2A:58-1 was repealed by the Laws of 1999, Chapter 274, § 4. See now N.J.S.A. 2A:58-10 et seq.
B. 
An elected officer or employee of the Borough of Palisades Park found guilty by the Palisades Park 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 finding by the Palisades Park Ethical Standards Board that an appointed officer or employee of the Borough of Palisades Park is guilty of the violation of the provisions of 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.
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.