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Effective mid-February, Guilford residents will have an updated, current version of the written set of guidelines known as the town's Code of Ethics. Important additions to the code include the addition of a whistleblower policy as well as an emphasis on information about nepotism and favoritism.
According to Board of Ethics Chairman Arthur Benson, the current version is very out-of-date and hard to follow. He pointed to some specific sections that the board felt might be confusing for residents to understand.
"The language and the structure of the present code is very confusing and very hard for people to understand. There was very little direction in it as to how people can use it, including what their approach should be and what steps they should go to to make a complaint or ask for an advisory opinion," Benson said. "We basically modernized it, we changed the language in it, and added items we felt needed to be added and made everything clearer by putting everything in steps so that it could be a more effective document."
The board has been working on amending the Code of Ethics for about a year and a half, comparing it to other towns in the state and seeking suggestions from officials including State Senator Edward Meyer.
"We worked a long time on it and we took our time. We looked at many, many other towns and what they were using," Benson said.
Board member Nancy Arnold was pleased by the reaction and subsequent approval from the Board of Selectmen (BOS) at its January meeting when Arnold and Benson presented the new code.
"The selectmen seemed...very pleased with it and now it has a 30-day period before the town accepts it," Arnold said.
First Selectman Joseph Mazza is excited to get the amended version officially approved in February, especially considering that state statutes have changed since the formation of the original code in the mid-1990s.
"It was reviewed because it hadn't been reviewed in some time and it was a little outdated so they felt it was necessary to clarify some technical issues," said Mazza. "I think the commission did an excellent job in its review and now we'll have a more up-to-date Code of Ethics. State statutes change and different situations arise, so it's important to keep the code current."
Benson said as long as no resident voices an issue with the updated version, the ordinance will automatically go into effect and replace the code that is currently being used. Once it is officially approved, Benson and the board will begin to publicize it.
To view the current code, head to www.ci.guilford.ct.us, and click on "Town Documents."