New ethics standards will affect planning commission | VailDaily.com

New ethics standards will affect planning commission

AVON — The council is expected to pass an ordinance soon revising the qualification standards for council members and planning commissioners. Chief among the revisions is a standard stating that employer-employee or supervisor-subordinate relationships disqualify candidates from being eligible for the boards they are seeking.

Recently, two Avon planning commission members disclosed their employer-employee relationship, and they could be affected by the new qualification standards. Commissioner Chris Lubbers was hired as the ECO Transit & Trails director on Aug. 31, making him a supervisor to fellow planning commission member Jared Barnes, a planner with ECO Transit & Trails.

“I commend you guys for bringing this up,” Planning Commission Chairman Jim Clancy told Lubbers and Barnes at their Oct. 20 regular meeting. “I don’t know that it would have come up had you not have brought it up.”

Town attorney Eric Heil says he’s currently in the process of drafting an ordinance that would change the qualification standards.

“I haven’t really seen that restriction elsewhere, so I don’t have any examples of how it works or how it would get applied,” Heil said.

The discussion of employer-employee relationships came up a few months ago as Avon was revising its code of ethics, an item the current council said it wanted to make a priority after being elected in November 2014.

The previous council had an employer-employee relationship between Evans-Chaffee Construction Group employees Chris Evans and Todd Goulding, which was among the subjects examined in an independent investigation of those council members by attorney Scotty Krob. Krob found no wrongdoing or appearance of impropriety, but the investigation prompted the new council to take measures to avoid a similar circumstance in the future. Among the changes to the ethics code, business owners who sit on the Town Council can’t do any business with the town.

The employer-employee relationship issue, it would seem, would have been another change pertinent to the town’s code of ethics. Not so, says Heil.

“The code of ethics is really about specific circumstances, and if you’re talking about a relationship where you’re never going to be qualified to vote on anything, then that’s really more of a qualification issue, not a conflict of interest issue,” Heil said.

Barnes said he agrees with the council’s point of view.

“I think it’s a pretty reasonable request,” he said.

Upon passage of the ordinance, which is expected to come before the end of the year, either Barnes or Lubbers will likely have to resign or they will both be disqualified from the commission.

“That’s my thinking, to keep it simple, rather than choose between two people as to who stays on or goes off, if you’re both on, and there’s this relationship that disqualifies you, then you’re both off,” Heil said. “If they want to figure out between them, who’s going to be on or off, then the issue goes away.”