Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Integrity in Local Legislation

Integrity in local legislation involves city ordnances that are generated to assure the needs of the residents and that the government functions are adequately addressed. Sometimes these documents display content that do not comply with the principles of integrity or ethics. While there are many city governments that responsibly generate these ordnances, others do not. Local governments must act responsibly to generate legislation through whatever document is necessary to provide for the operation of necessary services that residents expect.

Ordnances or laws dependant upon the term used must be generated with great care and only be initiated to meet governmental needs or the needs expressed or expected by city residents. The subjects must be carefully decided and the requirements must be identified before any document should be created. There should also be a process for the public to comment on any proposed legislation. Some local governments have this option and it is usually part of a regular council meeting. Communication between the residents and their government is important if the people are to have faith in the decisions that are made.

Many times situations occur that force changes to be made. When the changes are decided upon the implementation should be delayed, where possible, to allow community input. Communities are also made up of businesses and any legislation that affects the operations of businesses in the community should be carefully considered. Local governments want an environment in which businesses can flourish and they need to be careful in not generating legislation or requirements that will affect this environment.

This is necessary especially where new requirements are being imposed based on needs identified. Also any governmental document must be written clearly so the public understands them. These requirements must be communicated to the public through monthly meetings, town meetings and/or documents mailed to residents. This communication is necessary for two reasons. The first is to inform the residents of any new or revised changes. The second is to inform the residents of how their elected officials are managing their responsibilities.

City ordnances and policies upon which the government operates must be accomplished through principles of integrity. Integrity today in all levels of government appears to be lacking to some extent. While this statement is not a reflection on all participants or representatives, the perception must change. I know there are people in government that perform their responsibilities under the principles of integrity. This article is not a reflection upon those individuals. People have a right, especially at the local level of government, to have their elected officials make decisions according to principles of integrity.

Many decisions must be made in running a local government. Some decisions involve tax rates to pay for government programs and expenses. Some expenses involve the maintenance of roads and providing snow removal during the winter months. Some cities, depending upon their size, have higher expenses than others and must assure they have the income to support the needs of the residents. It is also important to maintain integrity principles in conducting city council meetings and allow for input from residents into decisions being made or considered.


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