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Code of Ethics

Chapter 16. Ethics, Code of

[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Council of the Town of West Hartford 9-12-1972 (Secs. 2-75 through 2-89 of the 1972 Code). Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Political activity of employees — See Charter Ch. VIII, Sec. 4.
Personal interest in contracts with Town — See Charter, Ch. XIV, Sec. 1.
Boards and commissions — See Ch. 5.
Departments — See Ch. 12.
 

§ 16-1. Establishment; purpose.

The proper operation of the Town government requires that public officers, officials and employees be independent, impartial and responsible to the people, that governmental decisions and policies be made in the proper channels of the governmental structure, that public office and employment not be used for personal gain and that the public has confidence in the integrity of its government. The purpose of this code is to set forth standards of ethical conduct; to assist public officers, officials and employees in establishing guidelines for their conduct; and to develop and maintain a tradition of responsible and effective public service. In recognition of these goals, there is hereby established for the Town the following Code of Ethics.
 

§ 16-2. Definitions.

As used in this chapter, the following words or phrases, unless a different meaning is required by the context or is specifically prescribed, shall have the meanings indicated:
AGENCY
Includes all departments, boards, commissions, committees and the Town Council of the Town.
OFFICER, OFFICIAL OR EMPLOYEE OF THE TOWN
Members of the Town Council, boards, commissions, committees, departments or other agencies, whether the officers, officials and members are elected or appointed, and all employees of the Town Board of Education, whether paid or unpaid, but shall not mean Justices of the Peace.
PERSONAL INTEREST
As distinguished from private financial interest, includes an interest arising from a blood or marriage relationship or close business association.
PRIVATE FINANCIAL INTEREST
Includes the private financial interest of a spouse or minor child of an officer, official or employee of the Town.
 

§ 16-3. Standard of service.

All officers, officials and employees of the Town should be loyal to the objectives and purposes of the Town as expressed by the electorate, the Charter and the ordinances and the programs developed to attain those objectives. All should adhere to the rules and regulations of performance and work established as the standards for their positions by the appropriate authority. They should not exceed their authority nor seek to have others do so, and they shall work in full cooperation with other public officers, officials and employees unless prevented from so doing by law, by good conscience or by the officially recognized confidential nature of their work.
 

§ 16-4. Use of public property by Town personnel restricted.

No officer, official or employee shall request or permit himself or herself or others the use of Town-owned or -leased vehicles, equipment, materials or property for personal convenience or profit, except when such services are available to the public generally or are provided in conformance with established Town policies for the use of such officers, officials or employees in the conduct of Town business.
 

§ 16-5. Special consideration prohibited.

No officer, official or employee shall grant any special consideration, treatment or advantage to any citizen beyond that which is available to every other citizen.
 

§ 16-6. Conflict of interest prohibited.

No officer, official or employee of the Town shall engage in any business or transaction or shall have a private financial interest or personal interest, direct or indirect, which is incompatible or in conflict with the proper discharge of his or her official duties in the public interest or would tend to impair the independence of judgment or action in the performance of the official duties of the officer, official or employee of the Town.
[1]
Editor's Note: See C.G.S. § 7-479.

§ 16-7. Financial interest restricted.

No member of the Council or any other officer or employee of the Town shall be financially interested, directly or indirectly, either as principal, surety, officer, partner or otherwise, except as a minority stockholder or except as a director in a corporation, in any contract with sales to, purchases from or compensable services made with or rendered to the Town. The provisions of this section shall not apply to any contract awarded to the lowest responsible bidder after public advertisement.
 

§ 16-8. Confidential information.

Except as may be required by law, no officer, official or employee of the Town shall disclose any confidential information concerning the property, government business or affairs of the Town, and neither shall such officer, official or employee use such information to advance the private financial interest of himself or herself or others.
 

§ 16-9. Acceptance of gifts, gratuities and favors restricted.

No officer, official or employee shall accept or solicit any valuable gift, whether in the form of service, loan, thing, promise or any other form, from any person who, to his or her knowledge, is interested, directly or indirectly, in any manner whatsoever, in business dealings with the Town, or which gift may tend to influence such officer, official or employee in the discharge of his or her official duties, in granting any improper favor, service or thing of value.
 

§ 16-10. Appearance on behalf of private interests.

No officer, official or employee shall appear in behalf of private interests before any agency of the Town, nor shall such officer, official or employee represent private interests in any action or proceeding against the Town in any litigation when said appearance or representation would be in conflict with or would tend to impair his or her independence of judgment and action in the performance of official duties as such officer, official or employee. An elected officer or official shall not appear before a Town agency except on behalf of constituents in the course of performing his or her duties as a representative of the electorate. An officer, official or employee may appear before a Town agency in the performance of official, public or civic obligations.
 

§ 16-11. Disclosure of interests required.

[Amended 5-24-1977]
A.  Any officer, official or employee who has a private financial interest in any action, legislative or otherwise, by any Town agency and who is a member of, participates in discussion with or gives an official opinion to such Town agency shall disclose on the written records of such agency the true nature and extent of such interest. This section shall not apply to:
(1)  Contracts awarded to the lowest responsible bidder after public advertisement.
 
(2)  Unpaid appointed officials during a declared state of emergency.
 
(3)  Matters requiring disclosure to or approval by a court.
 
(4)  Interests by virtue of ownership of stock in a publicly held corporation in an amount less than 10% of all issued and outstanding stock.
 
 
B.  Every elected official, excluding Justices of the Peace and Selectmen, shall, on or before January 1 each year, file with the Town Clerk, on a form to be prepared by the Corporation Counsel, a statement, under oath, containing the following information:
(1)  All real estate located within the Town of West Hartford owned by such elected official or held under a lease for a term exceeding five years, excluding, however, his or her principal residence. The foregoing shall also apply to real estate owned or leased, as aforesaid, by a corporation, trust or partnership in which any such elected official is the legal or equitable holder of at least 5% of the legal or equitable interests in said corporation, trust or partnership.
 
(2)  The names of any firm, proprietorship, partnership or corporation of which said elected official is an employee or in which such elected official holds at least a five-percent interest and which firm, proprietorship, partnership or corporation has sold or supplied goods or services in excess of $10,000 per annum to the Town of West Hartford during the two years immediately preceding such official's election to office.
 
(3)  Any income, fees, salary or wages directly or indirectly received by such elected official from the Town of West Hartford or its political subdivisions during the two years immediately preceding such official's election to public office.
 
 
C.  Every member of the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Town Plan and Zoning Commission shall file a statement containing the information required in Subsection B(1) above on or before January 1 each year.
 
 

§ 16-12. Political activities by Town personnel restricted.

A.  No paid officer, official or employee appointed by the Town Manager or by the Board of Education shall use the prestige of his or her position in behalf of any political party.
 
B.  No officer, official or employee shall promise an appointment to any paid position under the Town Manager or the Board of Education as a reward for any political activity.
 

§ 16-13. Commission on Ethics.

[Amended 5-11-1982]
A.  There is hereby established a Commission on Ethics consisting of five members, to be appointed by the Town Council for a term of two years, such term to start 60 days after each new Town Council takes office. Two members of the Commission shall be resident electors of the Town of West Hartford not members of the same political party, neither of whom shall be a Town officer, official or employee and one of whom shall be an attorney at law. Three members of the Commission shall be Councilors, not more than two of whom shall be members of the same political party. The Town Manager shall be a nonvoting member of the Commission for employee matters only.
 
B.  If a vacancy occurs before the end of a term, a member shall be appointed by the Town Council for the unexpired portion of the term.
 
C.  When an officer, official or employee has doubt as to the applicability of a provision of this chapter to any specific situation, he or she may apply to the Commission on Ethics for an advisory opinion and shall be guided thereby. Such officer, official or employee shall have an opportunity to present his or her interpretation of the facts at issue and the applicable provision or provisions of this chapter, as requested by him or her, before such advisory opinion is made.
 
 

§ 16-14. Powers and duties of Commission.

The Commission on Ethics established by this chapter shall have the power and duty of enforcing §§ 16-1 through 16-12. The Commission shall adopt and promulgate reasonable rules and regulations for the administration of this chapter, which shall be available to any elector of the Town upon request to the Commission. The Commission shall render advisory opinions to any agency of the Town and to officers, officials and employees pursuant to written request or upon its own initiative. All requests for opinions and opinions rendered therein shall be confidential and shall not be open to public inspection or disclosure. The Commission may, in its discretion, make public opinions which it believes will be in the public interest, but no such opinion shall be made public until deletions as may be necessary have been made to prevent disclosure of the identity of the officer, official or employee involved.
 

§ 16-15. Violations and penalties.

A.  If any elected official, except a member of the Board of Education, shall be found by the Town Council to have knowingly violated the provisions of this chapter, the fact of such violation shall be noted upon the official records of the Town Council.
 
B.  All other persons who shall be subject to this chapter and who shall knowingly violate its provisions shall be subject to removal from office in accordance with the provisions of Chapter XIV, Section 6, of the Charter of the Town.