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Conflict of interest

Polk County enacts new conflict of interest policy

COLUMBUS—Polk County has a new conflict of interest policy in place for employees and elected officials. 

The Polk County Board of Commissioners met Monday and unanimously approved the new policy. 

Polk County Chairman Tommy Melton said anyone who thinks they may have a conflict of interest should contact county attorney Jana Berg or county manager Marche Pittman. 

“If you think you have a conflict of interest I suggest you get in contact with Mrs. Berg or Mr. Pittman and make sure we don’t have to cross this bridge because that’s not a happy bridge to cross,” Melton said. 

The policy states that its purpose is to protect Polk County’s interest when any of its employees, officials or other guests acting on the county’s behalf are contemplating entering into a transaction or arrangement that might benefit or be perceived as benefitting the private interest of one of its county officials, employees or agents or otherwise engage in any other activity or conduct that might pose an actual or perceived conflict of interest. 

A conflict of interest refers to a situation in which private interests or personal considerations may affect or be perceived as affecting any county official, employee’s or agent’s judgment in acting in the best interest of Polk County, including using or being perceived as using their position, confidential information or corporate time, material or facilities for private gain or advancement or the expectation of private gain or advancement. 

“A conflict may occur when such actual or perceived interest benefits any member of the county official’s family, an employee’s family, an agent’s family or their friends or business associates,” states the new policy. 

Violations of the policy may result in disciplinary action, up to and including censure, reprimand or termination, the policy states.