By Scott Bolthouse—Hub Editor
The Huron Township Board of Trustees unanimously passed a new ethics ordinance at the Feb. 22 meeting.
The ordinance, which went into effect March 1, was spearheaded by Trustee Jeremy Cady.
Cady, who was elected to the board during last fall’s general election, said that during his campaign to be trustee, several residents told him that government integrity was an important issue to them.
“Since I announced that I would run for a position on the Township Board, residents have expressed sincere concern for the integrity of their township government,” Cady said.
“I have reached out to several legal advisers as well as other government entities to see how they ensured that government would be transparent and elected officials would uphold their Constitutional oaths. The number one answer I received was to ensure an ethics policy/ordinance was in place,” he said.
Cady said that even though there isn’t any suspected wrongdoing among the board, he felt that there needed to be some sort of rules established for elected officials, appointed officials, and certain public employees.
“I felt the township as a whole needed to have a mechanism that would provide for penalties should an employee/elected official violate the township taxpayers’ trust and confidence,” he said.
The township officials who the ordinance applies to includes all elected positions on the township board.
The deputy supervisor, deputy clerk, deputy treasurer and department heads are also required to abide by the ordinance.
In addition, the ordinance also applies to at-will employees of all township departments, members of the planning commission and the zoning board of appeals, and other township officials.
This includes employees and appointed commissioners who, in the ordinary course of their duties, regularly exercise significant discretion over the solicitation, negotiation, approval, awarding, amendment, performance, or renewal of township contracts.
“Like any law, this ordinance acts as a deterrent and also provides a mechanism to impose penalties for violating the ordinance. This now gives taxpayers legal standing to pursue charges against a township employee or elected official who violates public trust in a way described in the ordinance,” Cady said, on how this new ordinance benefits township residents.
Cady said that similar ordinances in Brownstown Township and in Wayne County government were used as models during the writing process of the Huron Township ordinance.
“Our ethics ordinance is a hybrid of Brownstown Charter Township and Wayne County’s ethical ordinances and the State of Michigan Attorney General’s ethical ordinance guidelines,” he said.
“I believe this ordinance is very strong and will protect the taxpayers well.”
So what happens if someone violates the ordinance?
“If probable cause of a violation of this ordinance is found valid, the township attorney shall issue the violator a citation and complaint for civil infraction, and the matter shall be referred to the local district court for prosecution,” Cady said.
“The Township Board shall, by separate resolution, create a fine schedule regarding violations, with fines not to exceed $500.”
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