It is the policy of the city that its officials, employees, appointees, and volunteers conducting official city business:
Serve others and not themselves;
Be independent, impartial and responsible;
Use resources with efficiency and economy;
Treat all people fairly;
Use the power of their position for the wellbeing of their constituents;
and Create an environment of honesty, openness and integrity.
How to file an Ethics Complaint:
- All complaints against city officials shall be filed with the city clerk, who will give it to the Mayor and Council. The Mayor and Council may require that oral complaints, and complaints illegibly or informally drawn, be reduced to a memorandum of complaint in such form as may be prescribed by the city council. Upon receipt of a complaint in proper form, the city clerk or the clerk's designee shall forward a copy of the complaint to the city official or officials charged in the complaint within no more than seven (7) calendar days.
- All complaints shall be submitted and signed under oath, shall be legibly drawn and shall clearly address matters within the scope of this ordinance.
- Upon receipt of a complaint in proper form, the Board shall review it to determine whether the complaint is unjustified, frivolous, patently unfounded or fails to state facts sufficient to invoke the disciplinary jurisdiction of the City Council. The Board of Ethics is empowered to dismiss in writing complaints that it determines are unjustified, frivolous, patently unfounded or fail to state facts sufficient to invoke the disciplinaty jurisdiction of the City Council; provided, however, that a rejection of such complaint by the Board of Ethics shall not deprive the complaining party of any action such party might otherwise have at law or in equity against the city official. For complaints that are not dismissed, the Board of Ethics is empowered to collect evidence and information concerning any complaint and add the findings and results of its investigations to the file containing such complaint.
- Upon completion of its investigation of a complaint, the Board of Ethics is empowered to dismiss in writing those complaints which it determines are unjustified, frivolous, patently unfounded or which fail to state facts sufficient to invoke the disciplinary jurisdiction of the City Council; provided, however, that a rejection of such complaint by the Board of Ethics shall not deprive the complaining party of any action such party might otherwise have at law or inequity against the city official.
- The Board of Ethics is impowered to conduct investigations, to take evidence, and to hold hearings to address the subject matter of a complaint.
- The Board of Ethics is empowered to adopt forms for formal complaints, notices, and any other necessary or desirable documents within its jurisdiction where the city council has not prescribed such forms.
- Findings of the Board of Ethics shall be submitted to the City Council for action.
SERVICE OF COMPLAINT
The city clerk or Board of Ethics as appointed herein set forth shall cause the complaint to be served on the city official charged as soon as practicable but in no event later than seven (7) calendar days after receipt of a proper, verified complaint. Service may be personal service, by certified mail, return receipt requested or by statutory overnight delivery. A hearing shall be held within sixty (60) calendar days after filing of the complaint. The Board of Ethics shall conduct hearings in accordance with the procedures and regulations it establishes but, in all circumstances, at least one hearing shall include the taking of testimony and the cross-examination of available witnesses. The decision of the Board of Ethics shall be rendered to the Mayor and Council within seven (7) calendar days after completion of the final hearing. At any hearing held by the Board of Ethics, the city official who is the subject of inquilY shall have the right to written notice of the hearing and the allegations at least seven (7) calendar days before the first hearing, to be represented by counsel, to hear and examine the evidence and witnesses and, to oppose or try to mitigate the allegations. The city official subject to the inquiry shall have the right but not the obligation of submitting evidence and calling witnesses. Failure to comply with any of time deadlines in this section of the ordinance shall not invalidate any otherwise valid complaint or in any way affect the power or jurisdiction of the Board of Ethics or the city council to act upon any complaint.
RIGHT TO APPEAL
- Any city official or complainant adversely affected by the findings or recommendations of the Board of Ethics may obtain judicial review of such decision as provided in this Section.
- Any action for judicial review may be commenced by filing an application for a writ of certiorari in the Superior Court of Effingham County within thirty (30) days after the decision of the Board of Ethics. The filing of such application shall act as supersedeas.
Any person violating any provision of this article is subject to:
(a) Public reprimand or censure by the city council; or (b) Request for resignation by the city council.