Harlem has joined Augusta and Grovetown as a Georgia ''Certified City of Ethics.''
The Georgia Municipal Association recently announced that nine Georgia cities have been added to the list of certified cities of ethics. Cornelia, Grayson, Hartwell, Jesup, Patterson, Perry, Ray City and Ringgold also made the cut.
Augusta and Grovetown were awarded the honor in June 2000.
In order to be named a city of ethics, Harlem had to do two things. First, city officials developed a resolution that adopted five principles: to serve others; treat all people fairly; use power for the well-being of constituents; create an environment of honesty; and use resources with efficiency.
Once the resolution was created, officials adopted an ethics ordinance to meet minimum standards approved by the municipal association's board.
Harlem Mayor Pro Tem Robin Root said an ethics board of 10 residents was also created. Should an ethics question arise, Root said, the matter would be investigated and the ethics board would review the results.
''You should be able to trust the people who are making the decision for you,'' Root said. ''This lets the residents know that if any one of us do anything against the rules, there is a way they will know about it.''
The application process took four months, time that Root said was well spent. Along with the title, the city received a plaque that now hangs in City Hall. The city also can display the Certified City of Ethics logo on its stationery, road signs and vehicles.
''It makes people trust the council a little more and lets us know that these are the standards we have to work by,'' Root said.
Becoming a certified city of ethics is not automatic. According to Amy Henderson, public information manager for the municipal association, 85 cities have applied, but only 75 have received the honor.
A panel of attorneys reviews all ordinances adopted by the applying cities to see if they comply with criteria set by the association.
If the panel decides that not all requirements have been met, the city is allowed to update its application and resubmit it.
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