The City of Claxton is one step closer to adopting a new ethics ordinance.
Council members heard the first reading of the proposed ethics ordinance that would allow the City to be certified as a ‘City of Ethics’ by the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) – an organization to which municipalities pay dues in exchange for leadership, tools and services that assist municipal governments in “becoming more innovative, effective and responsive.”
According to GMA, certifying as a City of Ethics is “an attempt to raise awareness about ethics issues at the local level and provide a local forum for the airing and resolution of legitimate concerns. The use of a local ethics ordinance allows citizens to raise their concerns and participate in the ethics investigation process at the local level, where the voice and influence of the individual citizen is strongest.”
The ordinance drafted by City Attorney Bill Callaway is the same ordinance proposed on the GMA website. Though the program has been in existence for decades, this is the first time the City of Claxton has moved to participate.
Specifically, Claxton’s ordinance would:
- encourage high ethical standards of official conduct;
- establish guidelines for ethical standards of conduct for every official by setting forth which actions are incompatible with the interest of the city;
- require disclosure by such officials of private financial or other interest in matters affecting the city; and
- serve as a basis for disciplining those who refuse to abide by its terms.
The ordinance also calls for the establishment of a citizen-led ethics committee, creates a process for filing complaints against elected officials, and outlines penalties for elected officials found to be in violation of the ordinance.
During the council meeting, Mayor Terry asked if any member of council had any questions about the proposed ordinance and to also bring any concerns to the second reading.
Councilman Scott Lynn said, “Well, we have to read it, right? For the First Reading?”
The Mayor said he deferred to the city attorney who said, “No you don’t have to actually read it.” Branch said he’d be happy to read it or not read it and to which City Attorney Bill Callaway said, “Everyone here can read. You just have to advertise it.”
Councilman Lynn again said, “Well, I just really want to do it right. So if we need to read it, let’s read it.”
Councilwoman Lisa Perry, “Yeah, me too.”
Ultimately, Mayor Branch read the ordinance section by section.
You can read the ordinance in its entirety below.Claxton Ethics Ordinance