Section 1.17 CODE OF ETHICS.
(1) Declaration Of Policy. The proper operation of democratic government requires that public officials and employees be independent, impartial, and responsible to the people; that government decisions and policy be made in proper channels of the governmental structure; that public service not be used for personal gain; and that the public have confidence in the integrity of government. In recognition of these goals, there is hereby established a Code of Ethics for all Village of River Hills officials and employees, whether elected or appointed, paid or unpaid, including members of boards, committees, and commissions of the Village, as well as any individuals who are candidates for elective office as soon as such individuals file nomination papers with the Village. The purpose of this Code of Ethics is to establish guidelines for ethical standards of conduct for all such officials and employees by setting forth those acts or actions that are incompatible with the best interests of the Village of River Hills. The provisions and purpose of this Code of Ethics and such rules and regulations as may be established are hereby declared to be in the best interests of the Village of river Hills, and are promulgated under the authority granted to the Village of River Hills pursuant to Section 19.59(lm), Wisconsin Statutes.
(2) Statutory Standards of Conduct. There are certain provisions of the Wisconsin Statutes which should be considered by public officials and employees. Although not part of this Code of Ethics, they are listed below:
946.10 – Bribery of Public Officers and Employees
946.11 – Special Privileges from Public Utilities
946.12 – Misconduct in Public Office
946.13 – Private Interest in Public Contract Prohibited
(3) Responsibilities of Public Office. Public officials and employees are agents of public purpose and hold office for the benefit of the public. They are bound to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the constitution of this state, to carry out impartially the laws of the nation, state, and municipality, to observe in their official acts the highest standards of morality, and to discharge faithfully the duties of their office regardless of personal considerations.
(4) Dedicated Service. All officials and employees of the Village of River Hills should be loyal to the objectives expressed by the electorate and the programs developed to attain these objectives. Appointive officials and employees should adhere to the rules of work and performance established as the standard for their position by the appropriate authority.
Officials and employees should not exceed their authority, or breach the law or ask others to do so, and they should work in full cooperation with other public officials and employees unless prohibited from doing so by law or by officially recognized confidentiality of their work.
(5) Standards of Conduct. Certain provisions of the Wisconsin Statutes, while not set forth herein, should be considered an integral part of this Code of Ethics. The provisions of the following sections of the Wisconsin Statutes are incorporated herein by reference and are made a part of this Code and shall apply to all officials and employees whenever applicable:
Wisconsin Code of Ethics for Local Government Employees
(6) Use of Public Property. No public official or employee shall request, use, or permit the use of Village-owned vehicles, equipment, materials, or property for personal convenience or profit, except when such services are available to the public generally or are provided for the use of such official or employee in the conduct of official business, or under the terms of employment.
(7) Conflict of Interest. No official or employee whether paid or unpaid shall engage in any business of transaction or shall act in regard to financial or other personal direct or indirect interest which is incompatible with the proper discharge of official duties in the public interest contrary to the provisions of this ordinance or which would tend to impair independence or judgement or action in the performance of official duties.
(8) Advisory Opinion. Any questions as to the interpretation or application of any provision of the Code of Ethics shall be referred to the Ethics Board. The Ethics Board may issue advisory opinions in accordance with Section 19.59 Wis. Stats., or may authorize the Village Attorney to act in its place where delay would be of substantial inconvenience or detrimental to the requesting party.
(9) Creation of Ethics Board. There is hereby created an Ethics Board to consist of 3 members. The membership of the Ethics Board shall consist of 3 citizens. The Village Manager shall provide necessary staff assistance to the Ethics Board and shall serve as its secretary, but shall not vote. The Village Attorney shall furnish the Ethics Board whatever legal assistance is necessary to carry out its functions.
The members of the Ethics Board shall be appointed by the Village President subject to confirmation by the Village Board. Terms of office of the members shall be 3 years except that when the initial appointments are made, 1 member shall be appointed for 1 year, 1 member for 2 years, and 1 for three years. Vacancies shall be filled by appointment to complete the term and shall be made in the same manner as the original appointment. Members of the Ethics Board shall be limited to serving two full three year terms. After an absence of one term, a member may be appointed for two additional terms. The members of the Ethics Board shall be residents of River Hills and shall not be elected officials, appointed officials, village employees, or concurrently serving on any other village board, committee, or commission.
In the event a member of the Ethics Board is allegedly involved in an Ethics Code violation, the Village President, subject to confirmation by the Village Board, shall appoint another individual to replace temporarily the member of the Ethics Board who is under investigation.
(10) Jurisdiction of Ethics Board. The Ethics Board shall administer and enforce the provisions of this Code of Ethics except as enforced by the District Attorney under Chapter 19 of the Wisconsin Statutes.
The Ethics Board shall elect its own chairperson and vice-chairperson and shall develop written rules of procedure which shall be submitted to the Village Board for approval.
The Ethics Board may make recommendations concerning amendments to this Code of Ethics which shall be submitted to the Village Board for approval.
Either on its own motion or on sworn complaint of any person alleging facts which, if true, would constitute improper conduct under the provisions of this Code, the Ethics board shall conduct an investigation of the facts of such allegations. If the investigation indicates that no probable cause exists to believe that a violation of this Code has occurred, the complaint shall be dismissed and no further action taken. If the Ethics Board concludes that probable cause exists, it shall conduct a public hearing in accordance with the requirements of due process of law. The Ethics Board shall, in written findings of fact and conclusions, make a determination concerning the propriety of the conduct of the subject official or employee. If the Ethics Board determines that this Code has been violated, it shall make a determination of sanctions to be imposed, if any.
Records of the Ethic Board’s opinions, opinion requests, and investigations of violation of the Code of Ethics of the Village of River Hills may be closed to public inspection in whole or in part, except that the Ethics Board shall permit inspection of records that are made public in the course of a hearing held to determine if a violation of the Code of Ethics has occurred.
(11) Sanctions. A determination that an official’s or employee’s actions constitute improper conduct under the provisions of this Code of Ethics may constitute a cause for suspension, removal from office or employment, or other disciplinary action. As an alternative or an addition to the sanctions imposed herein, an official or employee may be subject to a forfeiture of not less than $25.00 nor more than $1,000.00 for each violation.
(12) Severability. If any provision of this Code of Ethics is invalid or unconstitutional, or if the application of this Code of Ethics to any person or circumstances is invalid or unconstitutional, as determined by a Court of Record, such invalidity or unconstitutionality shall not affect the other provisions or applications of this Code of Ethics which can be given effect without the invalid or unconstitutional provision or application.