A. If the borough clerk determines the complaint is sufficient and there is probable cause that the mayor may have violated this chapter, then the borough attorney shall select an independent hearing officer to preside over the investigation. The hearing officer shall be a private attorney or an individual trained as an administrative hearing officer. The hearing officer shall not be an employee of the Fairbanks North Star Borough.
B. The hearing officer shall conduct an investigation so as to be completed within 60 days of receipt of the complaint from the borough clerk. The hearing officer can, for good cause shown by any person, including the hearing officer, extend the time limit by 30 days.
C. The hearing officer has the power to:
1. Consider any timely challenge to the sufficiency of the complaint or probable cause determination raised by the mayor and dismiss the complaint if appropriate. If dismissed, both the complainant and mayor shall receive written notice of the dismissal and the reasons for the dismissal;
2. Administer oaths, hold hearings and take testimony;
3. Upon application by a party to the hearing or upon their own order, issue subpoenas in the manner prescribed by Rule 45 of the Alaska Rules of Civil Procedure, to require the presence of witnesses and the production of records, books and papers at the hearing;
4. Order testimony to be taken in person or by deposition; and
5. Require any person to submit in writing such reports and answers to questions relevant to the proceedings conducted and the hearing officer may prescribe that such submission be made within a certain period of time, under oath or otherwise.
D. Failure or refusal to obey a subpoena issued under this chapter is punishable as contempt in the manner provided by law and court rule. The superior court may compel obedience to the subpoena in the same manner as prescribed for obedience to a subpoena issued by the court.
E. The hearing officer may convene a prehearing conference for the following:
1. To set a time and place for the hearing;
2. For stipulation as to matters of fact;
3. To simplify issues;
4. To identify and schedule prehearing matters including any pretrial discovery procedure usually available in civil actions; and
5. To resolve other similar matters before the hearing.
F. The complainant or their representative or private counsel may participate in the hearing process and may introduce testimony or additional evidence.
1. Challenge the sufficiency of the complaint;
3. Bring witnesses;
4. Establish all pertinent facts and circumstances;
5. Question or refute testimony or evidence including the opportunity to confront and cross-examine adverse witnesses; and
6. Exercise, to the extent the hearing officer in their discretion determines to be just and reasonable, any pretrial discovery procedure usually available in civil actions.
H. The Alaska Rules of Evidence do not apply to the admission of evidence in a hearing; however, the hearing officer’s findings must be based upon reliable and relevant evidence. All testimony and written evidence taken at the hearing must be preserved. Upon request, a copy of the testimony and written evidence must be furnished to the respondent.
I. After the hearing officer has completed the investigation, the hearing officer shall make a written findings of facts and conclusions of law. The hearing officer may take any action or combination of actions which the hearing officer deems appropriate including, but not limited to, the following:
1. Dismiss the complaint for insufficiency or other grounds;
2. Determine that no violation of this chapter has occurred; or
3. Determine that there are facts sufficient to constitute a violation of the chapter.
1. Public censure;
2. A civil fine of not more than $500.00.
K. The hearing officer’s determination is final and shall be delivered to the mayor and mailed to the complainant within 10 working days of the final decision. An appeal from a decision of the hearing officer may be taken to the superior court in accordance with the Alaska Rules of Appellate Procedure. (Ord. 2019-09 § 2, 2019; Ord. 2003-07 § 5, 2003. 2004 Code § 2.25.196.)