[HISTORY: Adopted by the Village Board of the Village of Osceola 5-10-2011 by Ord. No. 11-06. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Boards and commissions — See Ch. 6.
Officers and employees — See Ch. 40.
Village Board — See Ch. 59.
Editor's Note: This ordinance also repealed former Ch. 18, Ethics, Code of, adopted 8-10-1993 by Ord. No. 7-93 as Sec. 1.08 of the 1993 Code, as amended.
Where government is based on consent of the governed, every citizen is entitled to have complete confidence in the integrity of government. Officials and employees must help earn, preserve and honor that trust by their integrity and conduct. In recognition of these goals, there is hereby established a Code of Ethics for all Village officials and employees, whether elected or appointed, paid or unpaid, including members of all Village boards, commissions and committees.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- A corporation, partnership, proprietorship, franchise, association, organization, self-employed individual or any legal entity engaged in profit- or nonprofit activities.
- Any individual, other than an agency head and his or her designated deputy, who is employed by the Village and receives a salary or wages for work performed on either a part-time or full-time basis. The term shall apply to all individuals classified as temporary, probationary or permanent employees of the Village.
- FINANCIAL INTEREST
- Any interest which shall yield, directly or indirectly, a monetary or other material benefit to the officer or employee or to any person employing or retaining services of the officer or employee.
- Any individual, corporation, partnership or joint venture.
- PRIVATE INTEREST
- Any interest arising from blood or marital relationships or from personal, business or political associations, whether or not any financial interest is involved.
- A. Membership on or appointment or election to a Village board, committee, commission, agency, or similar Village association shall not constitute or be construed as a private interest under this chapter. Membership on or appointment or election to any other governmental (non-Village of Osceola) board, committee, commission, agency, or other association shall not constitute or be construed as a private interest under this chapter.
- B. Membership on or appointment to any quasi-governmental, or private nonprofit board, committee, commission, agency, or other association shall not constitute or be construed as a private interest under this chapter unless such membership or appointment includes a personal financial interest (for purposes of quasi-governmental functions, financial Interest does not include pay or compensation received solely for serving in such capacity as long as such pay or compensation is usual and ordinary for that position).
Sections 946.10 to 946.17 of the Wisconsin Statutes prohibit certain forms of conduct on the part of all officials and employees and provide for the imposition of criminal penalties upon conviction for engaging in prohibited forms of conduct. Each official and employee will be provided with a copy of these statutes by the Village Administrator upon taking office or entering employment.
Gifts and favors.
No official or employee shall accept:
Items or services offered because of public position: any item or service, including food, drink, and travel, of more than nominal value offered because of the person's holding a public office.
Items that could influence judgment: any item or service that could reasonably be expected to influence an official's vote, official actions or judgment.
Rewards for official action: any item or service that could reasonably be considered a reward for any official action or inaction.
Transportation or traveling accommodations: Discounted transportation, traveling accommodations, or communication services.
Official or employee may accept and retain:
Items and services unrelated to public position: food, drink, transportation, lodging, items, and services which are offered for a reason unrelated to the recipient's holding a public position and which could not reasonably be expected to influence any official's vote, official actions or judgment, nor reasonably be considered a reward for any official action or inaction.
Expenses provided by or for the benefit of the local governmental unit: food, drink, transportation, lodging, or payment or reimbursement of costs that are provided by or for the benefit of the local government unit, not for a private benefit.
Items of insubstantial value: mere tokens and items or services of only nominal, insignificant, or trivial value.
Representing private interests before Village boards, commissions, committees or agencies. No official or employee whose salary is paid in whole or in part by the Village shall appear on behalf of private interests before any board, commission, committee or agency of the Village or in any litigation to which the Village is a party, except when subpoenaed as a witness by a party involved in such litigation. A member of the Village Board may appear before a board, commission, committee or agency on behalf of constituents, provided that no compensation is paid or gratuity provided to that member contingent upon a specific outcome in a matter of interest to a constituent.
Disclosure of interests in contracts with the Village. Any official or employee having a substantial or controlling financial interest in any business entity seeking or securing a contract with the Village or in the sale of real estate, vehicles, equipment, supplies, materials or services to the Village shall make such interest known, in writing, to the Village Administrator. The Village Administrator shall make this information known to the Ethics Board, Village Board and agencies affected. A member of a Village board, commission, committee or agency with such an interest shall abstain from voting on or otherwise participating in the matter while it is before the Village Board or one of its committees.
Disclosure of interests in legislation. A member of the Village Board who has a financial or other private interest in any legislative matter introduced for consideration before the Village Board shall disclose such interest to the presiding officer and members of the Village Board at the time the matter is introduced and shall abstain from voting on or otherwise participating in the matter while it is before the Village Board or one of its committees.
Disclosure of interests in matters before Village boards, commissions and committees. A member of any Village board, commission or committee who has a financial or other private interest in a matter on which the body is expected to act shall disclose such interest to the body at the time the matter is introduced and shall abstain from voting on or otherwise participating in the matter while it is before the body.
Use of public property. No official or employee shall request or permit the use of Village-owned buildings, facilities, vehicles, equipment, materials or other Village property for personal convenience or profit, except when such services are available to the public generally and except where otherwise authorized by action of the Village Board.
Obligations to citizens. No official or employee shall grant any special consideration, treatment or advantage to any citizen beyond that which is available to every other citizen.
Use of information. No official or employee shall make use of or permit others to make use of, for the purpose of furthering a private interest, information not made available to the public.
Political activity. No employee shall, during the hours in which he or she is performing responsibilities and duties as a Village employee, engage in any activity calculated to benefit a political party, partisan or nonpartisan organization, campaign committee or candidate seeking to influence the outcome of an election or referendum.
Outside employment. No employee shall engage in any outside employment which might result in a conflict or the appearance of a conflict between the private interests of the employee and the employee's duties and responsibilities as a Village employee.
The members of the Village Ethics Board shall be appointed by the Village President, subject to confirmation by the Village Board.
Membership. The Ethics Board shall consist of five members: three citizen members, one member of the Village Board and one Village employee. The Ethics Board shall elect its own President, Vice President and Secretary. The Village Administrator shall provide staff assistance, and the Village Attorney shall provide legal assistance and advice as needed.
Terms of office. The term of the citizen members shall be three years, with appointments to be staggered so that no more than one member is appointed each year. The term of the member of the Village Board appointed to the Ethics Board shall expire with the member's term as a member of the Village Board. The term of the member representing Village employees shall expire with the member's termination of employment as a Village employee.
Rule-making authority. The Ethics Board shall develop and adopt reasonable rules of procedure.
Responsibilities and duties. The Ethics Board shall:
Administer and enforce the provisions of this chapter.
Issue advisory opinions regarding the propriety of any matter to which an individual subject to this chapter is or may become a party. An advisory opinion may be requested by the individual or by the appointing officer or authority with the consent of the prospective appointee, or, in the case of an individual under consideration for appointment as an official or employee, by the appointing officer or authority with the consent of the prospective appointee. Officials and employees shall be afforded an opportunity to appear before the Board and present facts at issue in the interpretation and administration of the Code of Ethics established by provisions in this chapter before an advisory opinion is issued.
Any person accused of or investigated for a violation of this chapter shall be given notice of such accusation or investigation and shall be given a hearing before the Ethics Board before any final determination is made or penalty is imposed. Any final determination of a violation of this chapter made by the Ethics Board shall be made in writing, and a party to the proceeding shall have 30 days from receipt of the written determination to appeal such determination pursuant to § 68.13, Wis. Stats.
Records closed. Records of the Board's investigations of alleged violations may, at the Board's discretion, be closed in whole or in part to public inspection.
The Village Ethics Board or any appointing officer or authority acting with the consent of a prospective appointee may request the Village Attorney or the County Corporation Counsel to issue an advisory opinion regarding the propriety of any matter to which an official, employee or prospective appointee is or may become a party. Such action will be taken pursuant to § 19.59(5), Wis. Stats.
When an official or employee has doubt as to the applicability of a provision of this chapter to a particular situation or definition of terms used, he should apply to the Ethics Board for an advisory opinion and will be guided by that opinion when given. The official or employee shall have the opportunity to present his or her interpretation of the facts at issue and of the applicability of provisions of this chapter before such advisory decision is made. This chapter shall be operative in all instances covered by its provisions except when superseded by an applicable statutory provision and statutory action is mandatory or when the application of a statutory provision is discretionary but determined by the Ethics Board to be more appropriate or desirable. Advisory requests and opinions shall be kept confidential, except when disclosure is authorized by the requestor, in which case the request and opinion may be made public.
Violation of the Code of Ethics created by this chapter may raise the question of whether the official or employee violating this chapter should voluntarily resign or other action should be taken in the best interests of the Village and its citizens. Violation of this chapter may constitute a cause for removal from office, termination of employment, suspension, censure, reprimand or other appropriate disciplinary action. As an alternative or in addition to sanctions imposed herein, any person violating this chapter may be subject to a nonreimbursable forfeiture of not less than $100 nor more than $1,000, as determined by the Village Ethics Board.
No appointing authority, agent of an appointing authority or trustee may initiate or administer or threaten to initiate or administer any retaliatory action against an employee following an employee's disclosure of information related to violation of any federal or state law, Village ordinance, rule or regulation, mismanagement or abuse of authority, substantial waste of public funds or danger to public health and safety. Nothing in this section restricts the right of the Village as an employer to take appropriate disciplinary action against an employee who knowingly makes an untrue statement or discloses information, the disclosure of which is specifically prohibited by federal or state law, rule or regulation.