Lowell weighs costs of joining ethics commission

2013-03-31T18:36:00Z 2013-03-31T21:27:06Z Lowell weighs costs of joining ethics commissionMelanie Csepiga Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
March 31, 2013 6:36 pm  • 

LOWELL | The Town Council will wait a bit to decide if the town will join the Shared Ethics Advisory Commission.

The council's decision last week was based on questions regarding the cost. In a presentation earlier this year, Commission President Cal Bellamy had quoted a $750 cost to join; however, the agreement received showed $1,500.

Some councilmen had earlier expressed concern on how the code of shared ethics and values, which must be adopted to join, would mesh with existing town policies and procedures.

Councilman Robert Philpot, R-2nd, a big proponent of joining, said the code is aimed at recognizing situations involving ethics and helping staff avoid unethical actions.

"We're in the midst of ethical issues right now with the Police Department. We're spending money investigating. We can avoid this for the future," Philpot said.

The town retained an outside investigator about a month ago to investigate internal issues at the Police Department.

Since that time, John Shelhart resigned as police chief, Cpl. Erik Matson was appointed interim police chief and Assistant Police Chief Scott Tokach moved down to sergeant. The full cost of the investigation, which continues, is not yet known.

Should the council choose membership in the Shared Ethics Commission, Lowell Public Works Director Greg Shook and Director of Administration Sue Peterson would be in charge of implementing it.

Shook said he believes ethics is the way people conduct themselves based on their parents' teachings, church and other influences.

Spending money to remind employees to consider ethics and be certain all are on the same page is worth $750, but not more, he said. He noted, too, the town could withdraw from the commission with a 90-day notice.

Peterson said she sees membership as a means of creating an ethical atmosphere or culture, but not a tool for discipline.

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