City Council to review ethics ordinance

2012-11-08T00:00:00Z City Council to review ethics ordinanceJoyce Russell joyce.russell@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2222 nwitimes.com

PORTAGE | The City Council will review potential changes to Portage's ethics ordinance.

An proposed ordinance outlining three changes to was presented to the City Council on Wednesday night, but was referred to the council's ordinance committee.

The look at the ethics guidelines was a result of recent concerns over Mayor James Snyder's trip to Florida, where he stayed in the home of a local contractor who has done business with Portage. Snyder has said he does not believe his actions are in violation of city or state ethics guidelines.

Clerk-treasurer Chris Stidham suggested the changes to the ordinance.

"This whole issue caused us to look at the ordinance. There are some issues that are not clear," he said.

One suggested change is lowering the amount of allowable gifts from $500 a year to $50. Stidham said most other municipalities or companies set lower limits than what Portage allows. A second change would include in the definition of a gift as the use of real or personal property. A third proposed change would add language prohibiting the acceptance of food or refreshments in excess of $50 per day.

Council chairperson Sue Lynch suggested the ordinance committee give those changes and other potential changes a review before the full council takes action.

"It needs to be tweaked and it needs to be discussed. There needs to be a tightening up of the old ordinance," Lynch said.

In other business, the City Council also referred to the ordinance committee a proposal giving department heads and assistant department heads four weeks of vacation each year.

Snyder said he was concerned however, that if the ordinance committee didn't meet or if the council did not move to approve that change at its regular December meeting, the change would not be effective beginning next year.

Council members agreed they would, if necessary, call a special meeting to act on the vacation change.

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