Cities of Ethics

At-a-Glance

GMA's Cities of Ethics program is not in any way approval of past or present conduct by the city or any city official. Instead, it is an attempt to raise awareness about ethics issues at the local level and provide a local forum for the airing and resolution of legitimate concerns. The use of a local ethics ordinance allows citizens to raise their concerns and participate in the ethics investigation process at the local level, where the voice and influence of the individual citizen is strongest.

Submission Deadlines

Mayors' Day Conference (held January of each year)
Cities that would like their ordinance reviewed in time to be recognized during GMA's annual Mayors' Day Conference must submit all materials by November 30 of each year.

Annual Convention (held in June of each year) Cities that would like their ordinance reviewed in time to be recognized during GMA's Annual Convention must submit all materials by April 30 of each year.

 

Becoming a City of Ethics

To earn a "Certified City of Ethics" designation, a city must take two actions.

Adopt a resolution establishing the five ethics principles for the conduct of your city's officials.

These principles are designed to guide the elected officials as individuals and as a governing body. These principles are:
 
  • Serve others, not ourselves
  • Use resources with efficiency and economy
  • Treat all people fairly
  • Use the power of our position for the well being of our constituents
  • Create an environment of honesty, openness and integrity
The adopted resolution must include or at least reference the definitions of these principles. A sample resolution is available from GMA. A majority of the city’s elected governing body must sign the resolution.

Adopt an ethics ordinance that meets minimum standards approved by the GMA Board.

The ordinance must contain definitions, an enumeration of permissible and impermissible activities by elected officials, due process procedures for elected officials charged with a violation of the ordinance and punishment provisions for those elected officials found in violation of the ordinance.

City officials should consult GMA's Sample Ethics Ordinance (see link at right) when considering provisions to include in a comprehensive codes of ethics. This document is the most recent and most accurately reflects the types of provisions essential to a local ethics ordinance. For general guidance in facing ethical dilemmas on a day-to-day basis and on state ethics laws, see GMA's publication "Ethics in Government: Charting the Right Course."

Following their adoption, the resolution, ordinance and a $85 application fee (only for cities applying for the first time) should be mailed to:
 
Georgia Municipal Association
Attention: Gina Shirley
201 Pryor Street, SW
Atlanta, Georgia 30303

The resolution and ordinance will be forwarded to the GMA Ethics Certification Committee, which is comprised of the Executive Committee of the GMA City Attorneys Section, for their review. If this panel of attorneys determines that both items meet the established requirements, the city will be designated as a "Certified City of Ethics."
 

Recognition for Certified Cities of Ethics

Each city designated as a Certified City of Ethics will receive a plaque and a logo which can be incorporated into city stationery, road signs and other materials at the city's discretion. In addition, GMA will send press releases to the local media notifying them that the city has earned this designation.