June 20, 2018
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Financial disclosures recommended for Bangor school board members

By Andrew Neff, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — Addressing a longtime omission that was discovered only recently, the Bangor City Council’s government operations committee unanimously recommended that the council approve including school committee members among those required to file financial disclosure forms.

The city’s code of ordinances requires anyone elected to the City Council or appointed to boards, commissions or committees to provide financial disclosure forms.

The intent of the filing requirement is to identify or avoid any potential conflicts of interest a councilor or committee member might have when dealing with outside agencies as a representative of the city or school system, according to Bangor City Manager Cathy Conlow.

“I don’t know why they [school committee members] were never required to do the same thing as well,” said Norm Heitmann, Bangor’s city solicitor. “My understanding is a citizen asked for the info and that’s how we found out about it.”

City Clerk Lisa Goodwin said a person asked to see the disclosures for current school committee members but discovered a page missing.

“I think it’s just an oversight,” said Goodwin. “Someone had asked to see them and there was a page missing.

“I went back to look it up, but since I always read ordinances, I decided to check to be sure what we needed to provide for information and found out they aren’t required to provide them at all.”

Heitmann said that while many school committee members have filed forms anyway, the oversight needed to be addressed so the code would be brought into alignment with current practice.

“We have been following the disclosure expectation for many years now as it is because we thought we were subject to it anyway,” said Betsy Webb, Bangor’s school superintendent.

Webb said she has no problem with the amendment to the ordinance code.

“I think it just provides transparency, which I think is the whole intent,” Webb said Tuesday. “I think it rarely impacts a school board member because they’re rarely doing business with the school department.”

Heitmann said the amendment to the code of ethics within the code of ordinances covers anyone who is elected or appointed.

“It doesn’t apply to candidates,” Heitmann said.

Bangor’s city councilors can take it up as early as Monday night and are expected to approve the amendment.

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