The by-laws were drafted by the TCC Officers and reviewed with the Interim TCC Solicitor, Geoffrey Beauchamp, Esq.
The draft by-laws were developed using the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) model. The 4 officers also reviewed other sample by-law documents and the by-laws of other counties, and have made suggested revisions based on some good ideas we found there.
The proposed by-laws provide for all of the required provisions of Act 32, including a method for counting votes, what constitutes a quorum, meeting dates, reorganization, election of officers, public notices, and appointment of a Tax Appeals Board.
The proposed by-laws include two options for counting votes as follows:
Weighted voting determined by a formula that includes 50% of proportional population of each Taxing Authority in proportion to the total population of the Tax Collection District (TCD), and 50% to the proportional income tax revenues collected in proportion to the total income tax collection in the TCD.
Non-Weighted voting where each Delegate will have one equally weighted vote for each Taxing Authority
The Board of Delegates must decide which voting system will be used in the by-laws.
Given the size of the Bucks County TCC, the Executive Officers believe the best way to provide for the day to day operations of the TCC is to appoint a Management Committee consisting of the elected Officers and five other appointed delegates with specific powers granted to it by the Board. The proposed by-laws provide for the appointment of a Management Committee. The Management Committee will generally meet monthly to review TCC operations and make any necessary decisions for the efficient operation of the TCC within the authority limits granted to it by the Board. The Management Committee will report to the Board on a quarterly basis.
One key provision in the by-laws is the requirement for a 2/3 super majority vote of all delegate votes to merge with another TCC, purchase or sell real estate, incur debt not included in a budget, and to create a tax bureau to collect taxes.
The by-laws also provide for the appointment of an Executive Director by the Board. I understand that we talked about not having this in the bylaws at the last meeting. While the Executive Officers believe that the Bucks TCC can operate without an Executive director at this time, we also think the TCC may want to consider the appointment of an Executive Director in the future, on a part time basis. We have learned, for example, that the Northampton County TCC has hired the Meyner Center at Lafayette College as its Executive Director at $65 per hour, for an estimated $12,000 per year. The duties include preparing and sending all required TCC notices and correspondence, preparing minutes, processing invoices, facilitating meetings, preparing monthly financial statements, preparing RFP’s, and performing other duties as determined by the Board. We don’t see the harm in having this provision in the bylaws, even if it is not our intention to use an Executive director at this time.
The by-laws require that the TCC meet quarterly. The Board must establish its regular meeting dates, and the date for the annual reorganization meeting. All Officers and members of the Management Committee serve for a one year term and must be re-elected by the Board at the annual organization meeting.
The by-laws provide that the TCC fiscal year will be January 1 through December 31. It also provides that the allocation of TCC expense will be based on the proportionate share of Earned Income Taxes collected by each Taxing Authority in the TCD to the total Earned Income Taxes collected by all of the Taxing Authorities in the TCD.
The bylaws provide for appropriate bonds and insurance to protect the TCC from adverse litigation, and include provisions for the addition of a Taxing Authority to the TCC.
The Executive Officers believe these bylaws are an appropriate document to guide the organization and operation of the Bucks County TCC, and recommend approval by the Board of Delegates.
The Bucks County Tax Collection Committee (“TCC”), duly organized and formed under the Local Tax Enabling Act, 53 P.S. § 6924.101 et seq., as may be amended from time to time, is committed to maintaining the highest ethical standards to promote and preserve the good repute of the TCC, its delegates and constituent taxing authorities. Accordingly, the purpose of this Code of Ethics is to protect the TCC from the actuality and appearance of impropriety and to foster public confidence in the performance of the TCC’s statutory duties.
All TCC delegates, officers, employees and agents shall, at all times:
A. Uphold the integrity and independence of the TCC, and shall perform the duties of their public office impartially and diligently free of any conflicts of interest;
B. Avoid situations in which their personal interests, activities or financial affairs are, or are likely to be perceived as being, in conflict with the interests or policies of the TCC and its constituent taxing authorities;
C. Avoid having interests that may reasonably bring into question their ability to carry out their public duties in a fair, impartial and objective manner;
D. Not use or attempt to use their position with the TCC to obtain unwarranted privileges or advantages for themselves or others;
E. Not be swayed by partisan interests, public clamor, or fear of criticism;
F. Not convey or permit other persons to convey the impression that any persons are in a position to influence them;
G. Avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety;
H. Observe standards and conduct that promote public confidence; and
I. Serve as fiduciaries of the TCC and perform their official duties in compliance with this Code of Ethics.
A. Conflicts of Interest
1. All TCC delegates, officers, employees and agents shall avoid situations in which their personal interests, activities or financial affairs are, or are likely to be perceived as being, in conflict with the (a) policies, interests and obligations of the TCC or (b) those of the TCC’s constituent taxing authorities, including the school districts and municipalities they represent as delegates.
2. All TCC delegates, officers, employees and agents shall not actively participate in any Executive Sessions or internal pre-decisional deliberations pertaining to any matter in which they have a conflict of interest in the subject matter thereof, including, without limitation, any matter:
a. Involving the employment, appointment, termination of employment, terms and conditions of employment, evaluation of performance, promotion or disciplining of any prospective public officer or employee or agent, or current public officer or employee or agent employed or appointed by the TCC;
b. Involving confidential consultations with any attorney for the TCC about policies, procedures and any actual or potential litigation involving the TCC or any of its constituent taxing authorities;
c. Involving the consideration of TCC business which, if conducted in public, would violate a lawful privilege or lead to the disclosure of confidential information protected by law, including, but not limited to, any communications or matters protected by the attorney/client privilege.
B. Duty to Disclose
1. Any TCC delegate, officer, employee or agent who has a conflict or interest, a potential conflict of interest, or knowledge of or reason to believe that there has been a violation of this Code of Ethics, shall immediately notify the Chairperson of the TCC in writing. In addition, they shall have the continuing duty to:
a. Review and assess their conduct in light of this Code of Ethics;
b. Report any conflicts that may arise throughout the year; and
c. Fully cooperate with the TCC and its Solicitor in all matters relating to the operation and enforcement of this Code of Ethics.
2. All TCC delegates, officers, employees or agents are encouraged to seek advice from the TCC Solicitor when they have questions regarding their obligations or those of anyone else under this Code of Ethics or the applicability or meaning of any provision of this Code of Ethics.
3. Any TCC delegate, officer, employee or agent with a potential conflict of interest may make a presentation to the TCC advocating for his or her participation in internal pre-decisional deliberations or Executive Sessions despite having a conflict of interest. After the presentation, they shall leave the Executive Session or internal pre-decisional deliberations during the discussion of their possible conflict of interest.
4. After exercising due diligence, the TCC shall determine by majority vote whether a conflict of interest exists and whether the person with the conflict of interest may participate in Executive Sessions and internal pre-decisional deliberations to which the conflict of interest pertains.
1. Any TCC delegate, officer, employee or agent shall disqualify himself or herself and abstain from participating in any internal pre-decisional deliberations or Executive Sessions in which his or her objectivity, impartiality, integrity or independence of judgment may be reasonably questioned, including, but not limited to, instances where they know that they or any of their business or professional clients or customers or any organizations to which they belong has any financial interest whatsoever that conflicts with any interest or policy of the TCC or any of its constituent taxing authorities.
2. They have a continuing obligation to consider carefully and assess whether they have an interest that, pursuant to the requirements of this Code of Ethics, requires them to abstain from participating in any internal pre-decisional deliberations or Executive Sessions.
D. Violations of the Conflicts of Interest Policy
1. If the TCC has reasonable cause to believe a TCC delegate, officer, employee or agent has failed to disclose actual or possible conflicts of interest, it shall inform that person of the basis for such belief and afford them an opportunity to explain their alleged failure to disclose any such actual or potential conflicts of interest.
2. If, after hearing that person’s response and after making further investigation as warranted by the circumstances, the TCC determines they have failed to disclose an actual or possible conflict of interest or has otherwise violated this Code of Ethics, it shall, in the case of a delegate, inform the taxing authority they represent in writing the violation committed by that delegate.
3. Employees and agents who commit such violations shall be subject to discharge by the TCC.
Any TCC delegate, officer, employee or agent may only use or permit the use of any confidential information which he/she receives or to which he/she has access by virtue of his/her official duties, solely for the purpose of carrying out such official duties, and for no other purpose whatsoever. Under no circumstances may they use that confidential information in any way adverse to the interests or policies of the TCC or its constituent taxing authorities. When appropriate, the Management Committee may, by a simple majority vote, require a delegate, employee or agent to sign a non-disclosure agreement with respect to certain confidential matters where it reasonably appears that they have an actual or potential conflict of interest.
It is the duty of each TCC delegate, officer, employee and agent to refrain at all times from any criminal conduct and to cooperate with law enforcement officers in the proper performance of their official duties.
Pennsylvania State Ethics Act
This Code incorporates the requirements of the Pennsylvania State Ethics Act, 65 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 1101 et seq., except in those situations where this Code of Ethics is more restrictive.