Newport Information drafts guidelines, ethics information after council bank card abuse – The Virginian-Pilot

The Newport Information Metropolis Council quickly plans to undertake a handbook that features a code of conduct and can information council conduct and codify roles and duties.

The booklet was proposed by Mayor Philip Jones this summer time after considerations had been raised about council members misusing city-issued bank cards earlier within the 12 months. Jones mentioned the handbook will assist make clear what spending is permissible and what’s not.

On Tuesday, the council reviewed and mentioned a 40-page draft coverage, which Performing Metropolis Supervisor Alan Archer mentioned is “very near completion.” The Council intends to undertake the ultimate draft throughout its common assembly in December. Archer mentioned he used brochures from close by areas, together with Williamsburg, as inspiration.

“I believe at a really excessive degree what we’re in search of with this information is to supply the council with readability,” Archer mentioned. “So, as we work on completely different variations of the draft, we wish to make it possible for we use a standard language that may be simply interpreted.”

The information particulars the construction and features of the Metropolis Council, explains assembly guidelines and procedures, and offers an in depth code of ethics. Ethics contains requiring Board Members to adjust to all relevant legal guidelines relating to actions taken as a Board Member, abstaining from voting on a matter wherein the Board Member has a private curiosity – besides as permitted by legislation after full disclosure of such curiosity – and refusing to simply accept items or favors once they have an effect on Official duties.

A number of pages of the information clarify the expense guidelines. One part explains how metropolis funds could also be used to reimburse council members or their workers for bills incurred on official metropolis enterprise, supplied that the prices are detailed and documented to the best extent doable. The information additionally features a record of purchases of products and providers that may be bought with a metropolis credit score or ID card by council members or their workers.

The booklet offers an in depth record of prohibited bills. They embody:

  • Alcoholic drinks and tobacco merchandise
  • Non-work-related private leisure reminiscent of premium cable charges, fitness center entry charges, spa providers, and private sightseeing or buying
  • Private objects reminiscent of clothes, toiletries, drugs, studying supplies, and barber or salon providers
  • Childcare, aged care, babysitting or pet sitting
  • Repairing, towing, parking, or transporting private automobiles. Violation fines, bail, or authorized charges
  • Presents or donations
  • Medical bills

The handbook says enterprise meals and journey prices must be restricted to allowable bills inside the metropolis’s journey coverage. It additionally requires a majority vote by the Council for sure bills, together with charitable donations permitted by state legislation, together with desk sponsorships in extra of $1,000, contractual providers associated to Metropolis Council enterprise, and journey prices for official occasions exterior the US.

To make sure management of Council expenditures, the Metropolis Clerk should submit quarterly studies on finances to precise spending to the Metropolis Council. As a physique, the Council will overview the studies and handle any obvious considerations as a gaggle, with Council workers and one another. Any Council member who makes use of Metropolis funds for unauthorized functions could also be topic to civil fines, Metropolis restitution, and/or legal prosecution.

Earlier this 12 months, town lawyer reviewed fees made by council members on city-issued bank cards and decided that a number of had made inappropriate fees that violated state legislation and town’s journey coverage. 4 council members had been requested to repay the cash after town reviewed the accusations.

The information additionally incorporates steering regarding constituent service representatives – part-time workers who act as liaisons between council members and the neighborhood. Earlier this 12 months, the council added part-time aides to the finances for every of the six council members, excluding the mayor.

The handbook states that no member of the rapid household of any council member could also be eligible for the place. The guide permits representatives to have interaction in political actions exterior of labor hours, however prohibits them from utilizing their official authority to coerce subordinate workers to contribute to a political marketing campaign or to discriminate within the provision of public providers on the premise of political affiliations. Representatives are additionally prohibited from attending political marketing campaign occasions with or on behalf of any Metropolis Council member throughout their compensable work hours.

Metropolis Council members might not delegate their authority to vote on any matter to a constituent service consultant. Moreover, they’re prohibited from serving as members of any metropolis advisory board, committee or fee charged with making suggestions on which their council members can vote.

A number of council members mentioned they appreciated the rules within the information. Jones mentioned the handbook may very well be up to date sooner or later if needed.

Josh Janney, joshua.janney@virginiamedia.com.

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