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|Code of Ethics|
MAAO Code of Ethics
Adopted: October 8, 2002
The functions of the assessing officer and other members of the M.A.A.O. are professional in character. The purpose of the Code of Ethics is twofold. Its primary purpose is to establish clear, precise, ethical and professional guidelines for the assessing officer and other members of the Massachusetts Association of Assessing Officers (MAAO) who earnestly seek to discharge their duty to the public and their profession. Its secondary purpose is to provide minimum standards by which to judge M.A.A.O. members whose conduct is in question. Each member of the M.A.A.O. agrees that he or she will:
1. FAITH AND ALLEGIANCE
Give full faith and allegiance to such oaths of office as the member may take, obey all applicable laws and regulations and apply the law to all individuals alike as may be required of the member in his or her employment.
Perform all appraisal/assessment duties in a manner consistent with statutory requirements without advocacy for, or accommodation of, any particular interests. Be factual, objective, unbiased, and honest in all conclusions.
3. CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION
Treat as confidential all information obtained in any official capacity by the member concerning persons or their property, permitting and making only those uses of such information that are authorized by law, such as the exchange of factual information concerning persons or their property, for the sole purpose of assisting in the assessment of property legally subject to taxation.
Conduct all duties and activities in a manner that will reflect credit upon themselves and their profession.
5. APPEARANCE OF IMPROPRIETY
Use caution to avoid the appearance of impropriety, even though, in fact, no impropriety exists or is intended.
6. REPRESENTATION OF QUALIFICATIONS
Use no M.A.A.O. professional designation unless duly authorized to do so by the association and claim no qualifications in reports, testimony or elsewhere, which are not factual, or which may by subject to erroneous interpretation.
Give full credit to the source of any materials quoted or cited in writings and speeches.
8. PROHIBITED ASSIGNMENTS
Accept no fee appraisal or other assignment in which the member has an unrevealed personal interest or bias, or which cannot be completed without placing the member's personal integrity or that of the assessing profession in jeopardy.
Accept no specific assessment or appraisal engagement for which the amount of the member's compensation is contingent upon reporting a predetermined value or upon the amount of the value estimate; or upon reporting a predetermined opinion, conclusion or recommendation; or upon the amount of the tax reduction obtained by a client using the member's services; or upon any other result, value or subsequent transaction that might impair the member's objectivity and professionalism in rendering an opinion based on actual property values.
10. ADVERTISING AND/OR SOLICITATION
Use no advertising or promotion to solicit appraisals or assessment-related assignments that are not totally accurate and truthful and avoid using misleading claims or promises of relief that could lead to loss of confidence in appraisal or assessment professionals by the public.
11. REPORTING UN-ETHICAL PRACTICES
Report to M.A.A.O. any un-ethical practices or other actions by M.A.A.O. members that could reflect discredit upon M.A.A.O. or upon the appraisal or assessment profession.
12. M.A.A.O. AND ITS OFFICERS
Co-operate with the Executive Board and Ethics Committee in all matters related to the enforcement of this code.
13. NOTICE OF POSITION
Any assessor acting in a private capacity, who is scheduled to appear or submit written testimony or a report, on a subject matter before any assessing jurisdiction, will give advanced written notice to such jurisdiction, that he/she is an official and/or employee of the assessing office of a particular city or town.
14. UNWARRANTED PRIVILEGES
That no member shall use his/her official position to secure unwarranted privileges for him/herself, family, business associates, or any other person wherein said member benefits directly or indirectly.
15. REFRAIN FROM PARTICIPATION
If an assessor, or an assessing department employee, finds that in his/her own assessing district, a matter arises in which he/she or their family have a financial interest, they must advise the Board of Assessors and refrain from any participation in the matter.
Conform in all respects to this Code of Ethics and the Constitution of the M.A.A.O. as the same may be amended from time to time.
MAAO Ethics Committee Rules and Procedures
I. Establishment of the Ethics Committee – Composition – Organization
A. There shall be a standing committee within the organizational structure of the Massachusetts Association of Assessing Officers known as the Ethics Committee.
B. The committee shall consist of a chairman and four other committee members, all of whom shall be regular members of M.A.A.O. in good standing. The executive board shall appoint all members for a one-year term. At least one member shall be re-appointed each year to maintain continuity.
C. All committee decisions, with the exception of expulsion, shall be reached by majority vote of the committee. Any vote for expulsion shall require a 2/3rds majority of the voting members.
II. Responsibility and Authority
A. The committee shall receive and investigate all complaints referred to it concerning alleged violations of the M.A.A.O. By-Laws and Code of Ethics. The committee shall have the authority and responsibility for issuing letters of charge, conducting hearings, and imposing appropriate disciplinary action.
A. The committee shall meet on the call of the chairman or a petition of a majority of the committee members. A majority of the members shall constitute a quorum.
B. The Ethics Committee shall go into executive session for the purpose of discussing any alleged conduct by any member, which could be considered an alleged ethical violation.
A. The Ethics Committee, and all other persons who may be privy to any proceedings concerning alleged ethical violations, shall be prohibited from revealing the names of any individual involved or any content of any material included in a complaint to anyone other than members of the committee, any participants in the hearing process and, after appeal, the members of the Executive Board.
A. All complaints must be in writing on an approved form and signed by the complainant. Complaints may be received from any source including non-members. Complaints should be sent to the chairman of the Ethics Committee who will forward a copy to the respondent requesting a written reply.
B. If, upon investigation, which shall include the respondents’ reply in writing, the committee determines that a complaint has merit, the chairman shall issue a letter of charge to the respondent.
C. If the committee determines that the complaint is without merit, the complainant and/or respondent shall be so notified in writing by the chairman of the committee.
VI. Letter of Charge
A. A letter shall be sent to the respondent stating the charges and offering a hearing in order to give the individual the opportunity to respond to the charges.
A. Within thirty days of the issuance of a letter of charge, the chairman shall schedule a hearing with the respondent. The committee may issue summons to the complainant and any member of the Association that it feels may contribute to its decision.
B. This hearing will be for the purpose of allowing the complainant to offer proof of his allegations and to allow the respondent to answer the alleged violations.
C. Proceedings of the hearing shall be tape-recorded.
D. At the conclusion of the hearing the committee shall review the charges, the respondent’s reply and all evidence and testimony presented and within 30 days from the conclusion of the hearing shall issue its decision to (a) acquit, (b) reprimand, (c) suspend, or (d) expel. The chairman shall mail copies of the decision to the complainant and the respondent by certified mail. The decision shall include notice that the complainant and the respondent have thirty (30) days to appeal to the Executive Board. The decision shall also advise the respondent that discipline, if any, will be imposed after the appeal process has expired.
E. A copy of the decision shall be mailed to the President of M.A.A.O.
F. Included in the mailing will be a reminder of the confidentiality required in Paragraph IV.
VIII. Appeal to the Executive Board
A. Appeal may be made to the Executive Board within thirty days of receipt of the committee’s decision.
B. The purpose of the appeal is to review the decision of the Ethics Committee to ensure that the decision of the Ethics Committee complied with all pertinent rules and regulations and that it’s decision is supported by substantial evidence.
C. The appeal shall be in writing and shall be mailed to the president of the association. The appeal shall contain a succinct statement of the alleged errors and reasons why the decision of the Ethics Committee is claimed to be incorrect. If the full context of the hearing, as recorded, is requested to be entered as evidence by the appellant, the cost of transcription shall be borne by the appellant. The president will mail copies of the appeal to each member of the Ethics Committee.
D. If any member of the Executive Board is directly involved in matters of the complaint, he or she shall be disqualified from hearing the appeal. The president may name a replacement, which shall be a regular member of the association.
E. The Executive Board shall meet as soon as is practical to hear the appeal. The chairman of the Ethics Committee shall attend the hearing to present and defend its decision but shall not participate in any vote of the E-Board. Notice of the scheduled hearing shall be sent to the respondent and complainant at least twenty (20) days prior to the hearing date.
F. At the conclusion of the hearing the Executive Board shall vote, in executive session, to affirm, reject or modify the decision of the Ethics Committee. The decision shall be determined by simple majority vote unless the decision is to expel. If the vote is to expel that vote shall be a two-thirds majority of the voting members. Notice of the decision shall be mailed to the respondent or the complainant by certified mail within twenty days of the decision, and members of the Ethics Committee shall be notified by regular mail.
G. All decisions of the Executive Board shall be the final action on the matter by M.A.A.O.
IX. Disciplinary Action
A. For purposes of these rules, the words reprimand, suspend and expel shall have the following meanings:
(1) Reprimand – A personal and confidential letter will be sent to the respondent by the chairman of the Ethics Committee expressing disapproval or concern with his or her conduct. The letter will be kept on file with the chairman of the committee for the period of one year. If no other action is taken during the year, the record will be destroyed. The respondent will retain all rights and privileges of membership during this year.
(2) Suspend – The respondent shall be denied the right to vote, serve on any M.A.A.O. committees, participate as an instructor or speaker in any M.A.A.O. programs, or publicly represent M.A.A.O. in any manner for a period of not more than one year. The respondent will retain all other rights and privileges of membership during this time.
(3) Expel – The respondent shall have all rights and privileges of membership revoked as well as those restrictions mentioned in paragraph 2 of “A”, section IX, “Disciplinary Action”. After a period of five years, the expelled member may re-apply for membership subject to approval by the Executive Board.
In the case of any action taken under either (2) or (3), notice shall be published in the MAAO Newsletter.
X. Self-executing Provisions for Membership Suspension or Expulsion
A. Where any member has been convicted of a felony or a crime of office, which reflects on his, or her professional or ethical conduct as outlined in the Code of Ethics, that member shall be suspended or expelled from M.A.A.O. membership. The suspension or expulsion shall be made after determination by the committee that the conviction “reflects on his or her professional or ethical conduct”. Notice of such action shall be sent to the member by certified mail.
Revised April 3, 2002
M.A.A.O. Code of Ethics Complaint Form
Complaint must be sent to the current Chairperson of the Ethics Committee of the Massachusetts Association of Assessing Officers
Complainant (person making charge)
Respondent (person against whom charge is made)
Statement of alleged violation (plain & concise, include paragraph number of guideline)
Include any other information deemed relevant on separate sheet(s).
Signature of Complainant
MAAO Ethics Policy and Complaint Procedure