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Code of Ethics / Code of Conduct

Public Process
At the July 8, 2014 Special Meeting, City Council directed staff to develop a Code of Conduct and a Code of Ethics to provide enforceable guidelines that further the public’s trust in democratic government and uphold the public interest. Precise standards of conduct expected by the City have not been codified to date in the City Charter, Ordinances or any policies adopted by the City Council. 

As part of this process, staff hosted two public workshops on Monday, July 28, 2014 and accepted public comment through the City’s website to solicit public input on the proposed Code of Conduct and Code of Ethics. The public input received from the fifteen members of the public who attended these sessions as well as the input that was received via email and Durango’s Voice was incorporated into the draft policy. City Council reviewed this policy at a Study Session on Tuesday, August 13, 2014. 

City Council accepted public comments on the document at a Public Hearing that was held at the regularly scheduled City Council meeting on Tuesday, September 2, 2014.

The policy was adopted on October 7, 2014 and went into effect on October 18, 2014. To view the adopted Code of Ethics / Code of Conduct policy please click here.

Upon adopting the policy in 2014, City Council acknowledged that living with the document would help shed light on areas for improvement, and agreed to revisit and revise the policy after it was in place for at least one year. Since that time and with the experience of several real-world examples, the Board of Ethics has evaluated the efficacy of the policy and identified several necessary changes.

City Council and the Board of Ethics discussed several of the Board’s policy recommendations their breakfast held on August 11, 2016. As part of that discussion, City Council asked the Board to explore options for adding a less formal process to the policy that would allow amicable parties to resolve a complaint prior to an investigation or a hearing. The Board agreed to bring their proposed changes back to City Council as part of Study Session after the first of the year.

The City Council and the Board of Ethics met in a Study Session on Tuesday, February 28, 2017 to review the Board’s proposed changes to the City’s Code of Conduct and Code of Ethics. In addition to the changes proposed by the Board of Ethics, City Council requested that the Board consider an additional preliminary process that would allow the parties to resolve a potential conflict prior to the Board’s initial screening. Following that discussion, City Council directed staff to review the final edits to the policy with the Board of Ethics at their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, March 82017 and proceed with the process to amend the ordinance.

The primary substantive changes that have been incorporated into the revised policy as follows:

1. Section 2-208(a)(5) was amended to include a process that would allow the subject of the complaint to submit, in writing to the Board of Ethics, a response to the alleged violation of the Codes.

2. Section 2-208(a)(6) allows the Board of Ethics to consider public records of the event where the alleged misconduct occurred as well as the written response from the subject of the complaint to provide context for their initial screening process, to be conducted in an executive session.

3. Section 2-208(a)(6) allows the Board of Ethics to recommend the parties pursue an alternative process for informally resolving the conflict. As part of this process, at the Board’s discretion, the Board may request that the parties participate in an executive session.

4. Section 2-208(a) (8) was revised to include an intermediary process that would allow the parties to participate in mediation as a method for resolving the conflict. The costs of such mediation would be to be split between the two parties.

5. Section 2-208(a) (10) which outlines the hearing procedures, was revised to simplify the process and make it easier for a member of the public to be represented pro se. The intent of this revision is to simplify the hearing process ensuring that any party may represent themselves at the hearing, or they may be represented by an attorney or any person of their choice other than a City Official.

6. The policy language was streamlined throughout Section 2-208, to eliminate references to “inquiry or complaint” and replace these references with “complaint”. This change was made as an effort to clarify and distinguish the concepts of a citizen inquiry (which is not permitted under the current policy), a formal complaint regarding an alleged violation, and an advisory opinion.

7. Additional edits and changes were made as an effort to clean-up, clarify, and streamline the policy.

A revised version of the policy, adopted as O-2017-9 is available here.

Board of Ethics
Pursuant to the recently adopted Code of Conduct and Code of Ethics, the Board of Ethics is comprised of five (5) at large community members. The purpose of the Board of Ethics is to issue advisory opinions on ethical issues arising under the Code of Conduct and Code of Ethics; to hear inquires or complaints; and to issue finding and recommendations regarding alleged violations of the Code. Interested applicants shall have expertise in ethic acquired through education or experience.

For more information on the Board of Ethics please click here.


Policy Processes
The policy outlines several processes by which City Officials and the public may identify and resolve conduct and ethical issues. Forms can be obtained using the below links or in the City Clerk’s Office located at 949 E 2nd Ave.

Complaint Process
Any person covered by the City of Durango’s Code of Conduct and Code of Ethics or any member of the public may submit a complaint to the Board of Ethics regarding alleged violations of the City’s Code of Conduct or Code of Ethics Policy. Click here for a copy of the complaint form.

Advisory Opinion Process
Any City Officer or Board or Commission member who is covered by the City of Durango’s Code of Conduct and Code of Ethics may submit a written request to the Board of Ethics for an advisory opinion.  Advisory opinion requests should outline specific actions or conduct that are relevant to the individuals’ official duties and the Code of Conduct or Code of Ethics. Advisory opinion requests must be submitted to the Board of Ethics in advance of any official action. The Board of Ethics may publish advisory opinions to provide general guidance for City Officers and Boards and Commission members.