Mineola Village Hall

Mineola Village Hall Credit: Amy Onorato, 2012

The Village of Mineola has had an ethics board for two decades and now it has an ethics code to go with it.

Mayor Scott Strauss said there have been no known ethics violations among employees in the past that he is aware of, but he said the new code can now serve as a guide for the five-member appointed ethics board should an issue arise in the future.

The code was unanimously adopted last month by the board of trustees after acting village attorney, John Gibbons realized that the village had no ethics code though one is required by state municipal law. Strauss said it was a matter of "housekeeping" that the village had not adopted an ethics code up to now.

Strauss said the new code prohibits municipal officers or employees from making decisions "that could result in a direct or indirect financial or material benefit, to himself or herself" or to benefit a relative or interested private organization.

The code also requires a municipal officer to disclose whether an action he or she took could "result in a direct or indirect financial or material benefit" on a matter brought before the board. It also prohibits investments that "would otherwise impair the person's independence of judgment" in performing his or her duties.

"The code closely mirrors the New York State version," Strauss said. "We've always had an ethics board. I can't speak to experiences because we have not had any ethical issues come up. We're tasking the ethics board to do a little bit more than they have done in the past."

If a village trustee is uncertain about taking a certain action regarding a municipal officer or employee, the trustee can ask the ethics board for an opinion. Members of the public can also approach trustees about initiating an inquiry about a municipal officer or employee or they can approach the ethics board directly to initiate an inquiry, officials said.

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