After months of town halls, workshops, and at-times heated discussions, the Wichita City Council on Tuesday approved a new code of ethics for elected officials.
The policy applies to City Council members, the mayor and members of the city’s advisory boards. Among its rules: Officials can’t use city property outside of work; interfere in the city hiring process, or receive gifts worth more than $150.
The code also sets up whistleblower protections and establishes an ethics advisory board and ethics officer position.
City Council members will appoint one advisory board member each. The board, which the ethics officer will chair, will investigate complaints and violations of the ethics policy.
The new policy expands on the previous code of ethics and includes a fine up to $1,000 for serious violations.
Council member Bryan Frye said though the city has had ethics codes in the past, it hasn't been able to build public trust. He said creating a new policy should be just the first step.
“This council’s going to have to continue to review it on an annual basis to make sure what’s working, what’s not working,” he said. “It can’t just be for show.”
The ethics policy will be reviewed annually along with the city’s code of conduct, campaign finance policy and a yet-to-be-adopted social media policy.
Council members voted 6-0 to approve the ethics code; member Jeff Blubaugh was absent.