Covington recertified as City of Ethics by association

COVINGTON -- Covington has been recertified as a City of Ethics by the Georgia Municipal Association.

The city was first recognized with the designation in 2006. To qualify, officials passed an ethics ordinance to guide the conduct of employees, elected officials, board members and authority members of the city.

"It shows that we go the extra mile and place emphasis on ethical behavior for the utmost accountability, transparency, and fairness to our citizens. We strive to act impartially and responsibly to the community we serve," said Mayor Kim Carter.

GMA developed the City of Ethics program in 1999 to encourage cities to adopt and adhere to a set of key ethical principles and adopt a local ethics ordinance. The ordinance must contain definitions, prohibited conduct and due process for officials accused of violations in areas such as financial disclosures, conflicts of interest and outside employment, according to a GMA press release. The ordinance must also contain penalties for violators.

Cities are also required to adopt a resolution establishing five ethics principles for conduct of city officials. The 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.

This year, GMA began requiring that cities be recertified to maintain the designation. Each city will be required to apply for recertification every four years.

"There is a much stronger focus on ethics right now, and we're pleased that cities have led the way on this important issue," said GMA Executive Director Jim Higdon.

A panel of attorneys review ordinances to determine if they comply with GMA's criteria. Designated cities receive a plaque and are authorized to use a "Certified City of Ethics" logo on city stationary, road signs, city vehicles and for other purposes.