Saratoga County, NY
 
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[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Supervisors of Saratoga County 1-20-1998 by L.L. No. 1-1998. Amendments noted where applicable.]

§ 42-1
Purpose; title. 

§ 42-2
Definitions. 

§ 42-3
Prohibited activities; disclosure of interest; annual review. 

§ 42-4
Attestation and financial disclosure statement. 

§ 42-5
Public access. 

§ 42-6
Ethics Advisory Council. 

§ 42-7
Ethics Board. 

§ 42-8
Enforcement; penalties for offenses. 

§ 42-9
Filing. 

042a Code of Ethics Attestation 042b Code of Ethics Financial Disclosure Statement 042c Attachment A

The Board of Supervisors of the County of Saratoga hereby adopts a Code of Ethics for the guidance of its officers, employees, appointees and volunteers setting forth standards of conduct reasonably expected of them and, pursuant to Subdivision 3 of § 812 of the General Municipal Law, requiring those officers, employees, appointees and volunteers classified or designated in Attachment A hereto

Editor's Note: Attachment A is included at the end of this chapter.
to annually file an Attestation and a completed Financial Disclosure Statement. This chapter shall hereafter be referred to as the "Saratoga County Code of Ethics."

As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:

INTEREST
A direct or indirect pecuniary or material benefit accruing to a municipal officer or employee as the result of a contract with the municipality which such officer or employee serves. For the purposes of this chapter, a municipal officer or employee shall be deemed to have an interest in the contract of:
Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I).
A. 

His spouse, minor children and dependents, except a contract of employment with the municipality which such officer or employee serves;

B. 

A firm, partnership or association of which such officer or employee is a member or employee;

C. 

A corporation of which such officer or employee is an officer, director or employee; and

D. 

A corporation any stock of which is owned or controlled directly or indirectly by such officer or employee.

OFFICIAL or EMPLOYEE
An official, employee, appointee or volunteer of the County of Saratoga, whether paid or unpaid, who is a member of one or more of the boards, commissions, departments or agencies which serve the County, as listed in Attachment A.
Editor's Note: Attachment A is included at the end of this chapter.
The Board of Supervisors is hereby authorized to add by resolution such other individuals or entities as it deems appropriate.
SPOUSE
The husband or wife of the official, employee, appointee or volunteer unless living separate and apart from the spouse with the intention of terminating the marriage, providing for permanent separation or unless separated pursuant to a judicial order, decree or judgment or a legally binding separation agreement.
UNEMANCIPATED CHILD
Any son, daughter, stepson or stepdaughter who is less than 18 years of age, unmarried, and living in the household of the official, appointee or volunteer.
A. 

Prohibited activities. All County officials, employees, appointees and volunteers must avoid conflicts of interest or potential conflicts of interest. A conflict or potential conflict exists whenever such person has knowledge, actual or constructive, that he or she has or will foreseeably have any interest, direct or indirect, which conflicts with his or her duty to the County or which could adversely affect the individual's judgment in the discharge of his or her County responsibilities. No official, employee, appointee or volunteer shall:

(1) 

Take any action in his or her official capacity in the discussion, negotiation or the awarding of any contract or in any business or professional dealings with the County of Saratoga or any agency thereof in which he or she had, has or will have any interest, direct or indirect, in such transaction.

(2) 

Engage in, solicit, negotiate for or promise to accept private employment or render services for his or her personal benefit when such employment or service creates a conflict of interest or impairs the proper discharge of his or her official duties.

(3) 

Solicit, directly or indirectly, any gift, or receive or accept any gift having the value of $75 or more, whether in the form of money, services, loan, travel, entertainment, hospitality, thing or promise, or in any other form, under such circumstances that it could be reasonably inferred that the gift was intended or expected to influence him or her in the performance of official duties or was intended as a reward for any official action or inaction on his or her part.

(4) 

Disclose confidential information acquired in the course of his or her official duties or use such information to further his or her personal interest.

(5) 

Accept employment or engage in any business or activity which will require him or her to disclose confidential information which he or she has gained by reason of his or her County position.

(6) 

Take action or fail to act on a matter before the County or any board, department, agency or instrumentality thereof when, to his or her knowledge, the performance of that action or failure to act would provide a pecuniary or material benefit to himself or herself.

B. 

Disclosure of interest.

(1) 

Any official, employee, appointee or volunteer who at any time during the last two years had or now has, or who will have or intends to acquire a direct or indirect interest in any matter being considered by the County of Saratoga or by any official, board, agency, officer or employee of the County of Saratoga, and who participates in any discussion with or gives an opinion or advice to any board, agency or individual considering the same, shall publicly disclose forthwith on the official record the nature and the extent of such interest.

(2) 

Any person who, in his or her County capacity or function, is involved in making any decision with respect to a matter in which he or she has a conflict of interest or a potential conflict of interest may, following disclosure of such interest, recuse himself or herself forthwith from any further deliberation and decision making with respect to the subject matter of the conflict.

C. 

Annual review.

(1) 

Every County official, employee, appointee and volunteer shall, annually, attest that he or she has reviewed this Code of Ethics and shall file an Attestation with the office of the County Attorney by February 1.

(2) 

The penalties for the failure to comply herewith are set out in § 42-8 hereof.

A. 

County officials, employees, appointees and volunteers shall annually file an Attestation and a Financial Disclosure Statement containing the information required therein. Each shall be filed in the office of the County Attorney by February 1 and shall cover the preceding calendar year. Newly appointed or elected officials, employees, appointees or volunteers whose duties commence on or after January 1 shall file the forms within 30 days after the commencement of their duties. Within 30 days of any material change in his or her filed statement, each individual shall file a duly signed amendment disclosing such change. The County Attorney shall monitor the status of the filings for all individuals and shall notify the Ethics Advisory Council of any failure to file.

B. 

The form of the Attestation shall be as set forth at the end of this chapter.

C. 

The form of the Financial Disclosure Statement shall be as set forth at the end of this chapter.

D. 

These forms shall be retained by the County Attorney for at least seven years from the date of filing or as prescribed by the State Commissioner of Education.

The Board of Supervisors recognizes that public access to filed Financial Disclosure Statements enhances public confidence, deters the existence or creation of conflicts of interest and assists in the avoidance of such.

A. 

Any person, organization or news media desiring to review a filed Financial Disclosure Statement shall submit a written request to the County Ethics Advisory Council which shall include the following:

(1) 

Applicant's name and address.

(2) 

Name and address of person or organization on whose behalf the Statement is being requested.

(3) 

A form of identification to verify accuracy of name and address of the applicant.

(4) 

The payment of a fee of $0.25 per page when a copy of the statement is requested.

Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I).

B. 

Any official, employee, appointee or volunteer whose Financial Disclosure Statement has been inspected or copied shall be notified by the office of the County Attorney as soon as practicable of the name and the address of the applicant and/or the person or organization represented.

C. 

It shall be unlawful for any person or organization to inspect or copy a Financial Disclosure Statement for:

(1) 

Any unlawful purpose.

(2) 

The use, directly or indirectly, in the solicitation of a County official, employee, appointee or volunteer for political, charitable or business purposes.

D. 

A civil action may be brought by the County Ethics Board against any person or organization that violates the provisions of above Subsection C.

A. 

The Ethics Advisory Council shall consist of five members, one only of whom shall be an official or employee of Saratoga County or a municipality located within the County and all of whom shall be appointed by the Board of Supervisors. Each member shall be a County resident. The Chair of the Ethics Advisory Council shall be selected by the Chair of the Board of Supervisors for a term of one year. Appointment and tenure of the Council members and Chair shall be deemed to be continuing absent resignation by such member or Chair or removal by the Board of Supervisors.

B. 

Except as provided in Subsection A above, none of the Council's members may be an employee of the County of Saratoga or hold any elected public office, other than as an officer of a fire, fire alarm or fire protection district.

C. 

Each member shall be appointed for a term of four years; however, two of the original appointees shall be appointed to serve an initial term of two years.

D. 

Four members of the Ethics Advisory Council shall constitute a quorum and the affirmative vote of at least three members shall be required for action by the Council.

E. 

The members of the Council shall not be compensated; however, they may be reimbursed for reasonable expenses incurred in the performance of their duties.

F. 

Responsibilities.

(1) 

The Ethics Advisory Council shall meet at the County Complex each April and at such other times and places subject to the call of the chair. At each meeting, an opportunity shall be provided for receipt of complaints of unethical practices or other Ethics Code violations which may be brought by any citizen. Any complaint must be written and mailed or delivered on any business day during business hours to the office of the County Attorney. No anonymous complaints will be investigated. At its meeting in April, the Council shall review all filed Attestations and Financial Disclosure Statements and determine which employees, officials, appointees or volunteers have not complied with the filing provisions herein and shall make a report of its findings to the County Attorney.

(2) 

The Council shall hear and determine upon the evidence presented to it whether a conflict of interest, any impropriety or other violation of this Ethics Code exists between the public duties of the official or employee, appointee or volunteer and his or her private activities.

(3) 

When the Council deems that a conflict of interest, any impropriety or appearance thereof or other violation of this Code exists it shall cause and direct that the relevant documents, information, and decision or opinion of the Council pertaining to such alleged conflict or impropriety of a particular individual shall be filed with the Ethics Board but only after compliance with provisions of Subsection F(4) herein. The Ethics Board shall accept such documents and information and maintain separate, appropriate files for each matter. Such files shall be kept in the office of the County Attorney for seven years or such time as prescribed by regulation of the Commissioner of Education.

(4) 

Prior to such disclosure and transfer of the matter to the Ethics Board, the Council shall specify, by written opinion, its findings of facts and its conclusions and set forth reasons which justify notification and transfer of the matter to the Ethics Board. Prior to the filing of the opinion with the Ethics Board, a copy shall be mailed to the individual by certified mail, return receipt requested. The individual may respond, rebut or otherwise refute the opinion of the Council, either in writing, personally, by counsel or any combination thereof before the Council at a time and place which shall be specified by the Council. The failure to respond within 21 days from the date the opinion is mailed to him or her shall constitute a waiver by the individual of the opportunity for such response. The Council then may, in its discretion, amend, revise or rewrite its opinion or rescind such opinion by a majority vote of the entire membership.

(5) 

In addition to its other powers, the Council may recommend in writing to the individual a manner of resolution of such conflict of interest or appearance of impropriety. An affidavit by the individual detailing compliance with those recommendations may provide sufficient reason for the Council's rescission of its prior actions, including a decision to transfer the matter to the Ethics Board. The affidavit of compliance must be delivered to the Council in care of the County Attorney at the time and place specified in the Council's certified, return receipt requested letter to such individual. Any recommendation and failure by an individual to comply with it shall be disclosed to the Ethics Board. Nothing herein shall be construed to impose upon the Council a duty to make any recommendation to any individual.

(6) 

The Council may accept and consider written requests from officials, employees, appointees or volunteers for advisory opinions regarding conflicts of interests or the appearance thereof. If the Council renders an advisory opinion, it shall be in writing and directed to the official, employee, appointee or volunteer making such request with copies thereof to be sent to the County Administrator and the County Personnel Officer. Such advisory opinions shall be deemed to be in the nature of personnel matters and shall remain confidential except as provided for herein.

(7) 

The Council may extend the filing date of a Financial Disclosure Statement upon written request addressed to the Council care of the County Attorney's office setting forth facts showing justifiable cause or undue hardship. The Council, by majority vote, may grant additional extensions of time to file and shall impose time limitations upon such extensions.

(8) 

The Council may permit an official, employee, appointee or volunteer to delete from his or her Financial Disclosure Statement one or more items of information upon a finding by a majority of the Council that the information which would otherwise be required to be disclosed has no material bearing on the discharge of the duties of the individual. In this connection, when requested, the Council may issue advisory opinions.

(9) 

Notwithstanding the provisions of Article VI of the Public Officers Law, the only records of the Ethics Advisory Council available for public inspection are Attestation and Financial Disclosure Statements filed pursuant to this Ethics Code.

A. 

The Ethics Board of the County of Saratoga shall consist of five members, one only of whom shall be an elected or appointed official or employee of Saratoga County or a municipality located within the County and all of whom shall be appointed by the Board of Supervisors. Each appointee must be a County resident. The Chair of the Ethics Board shall be selected by the Chair of the Board of Supervisors for a term of one year. Appointment and tenure of the Board members and the Board Chair shall be deemed to be continuing absent resignation by such member or Chair or removal by the Board of Supervisors.

B. 

Except as provided in Subsection A above, none of the members of the Ethics Board may be an employee of the County of Saratoga or hold any elected public office other than as an officer of a fire, fire alarm or fire protection district.

C. 

Each member shall be appointed for a term of four years; however, two of the original appointees shall be appointed to serve an initial term of two years.

D. 

Four members of the Ethics Board shall constitute a quorum and an affirmative vote of at least three members shall be required for action by the Board.

E. 

The members of the Ethics Board shall not be compensated; however, they may be reimbursed for reasonable expenses incurred in the performance of their duties.

F. 

Responsibilities.

(1) 

The Ethics Board shall meet upon the call of the chair, or to organize, or when a matter is transferred to it by the Council together with all documentation and written opinion. In any event, the Ethics Board shall meet annually in April. At its meetings, the Ethics Board shall receive and consider Financial Disclosure Statements, complaints and other matters transferred to it by the Ethics Advisory Council.

(2) 

The Ethics Board shall hear and determine upon the evidence presented to it whether a violation of this Ethics Code has been established by a fair preponderance of the evidence. An audio tape record of all proceedings before the Ethics Board shall be maintained and a transcript of such record may be requested at the discretion of the Board. The recording requirements shall not apply to the deliberations of the Board. The Board shall specify, by written opinion, its findings of fact and conclusions as to whether there has been a violation and/or misconduct in accordance with the provisions of this subsection. Upon such a finding, the Board shall direct that all relevant information be filed with the Board of Supervisors but only after compliance with Subsection F(3) herein. The findings and conclusions will constitute a public record available to anyone who makes proper application to examine such record. The Board of Supervisors shall receive such information and shall maintain separate files for each matter and take such action as it deems appropriate.

[Amended 12-15-1998 by L.L. No. 3-1998]

(3) 

Prior to the filing of such findings of fact and conclusions, a copy of such shall be mailed to the official, employee, appointee or volunteer by certified mail, return receipt requested. The individual may respond, rebut or otherwise refute the decision and/or opinion, the findings of fact and conclusions of the Ethics Board, either in writing, personally, by counsel or any combination thereof, at a time and place specified by the Board. The failure of the individual to respond within 21 days from the mailing to him or her of the Ethics Board's decision and/or opinion shall constitute a waiver by the individual of the opportunity for response. The Ethics Board then may, in its discretion, amend, revise, or rescind its decision and/or opinion, findings of fact and conclusions, by a majority vote of its entire membership.

(4) 

In addition to its other powers, the Ethics Board may recommend in writing to the individual a manner in which the conflict of interest, impropriety, or appearance thereof, or other violations of this code, may be resolved. An affidavit by the individual, detailing compliance with those recommendations, may provide sufficient reason for the Ethics Board to rescind its decision to file the matter with the Board of Supervisors. The affidavit must be delivered to the Ethics Board in care of the office of the County Attorney at a time and place set forth in the Board's certified, return receipt requested letter to such individual. Any recommendation and the failure of the individual to comply therewith shall be disclosed to the Board of Supervisors.

(5) 

Pending the response of the individual and of the final resolution pursuant to either Subsection F(3) or (4) above, the Ethics Board shall not disclose any information to the Board of Supervisors or to the public.

(6) 

In addition to any other powers and duties specified by this Ethics Code, the Ethics Board is hereby granted the power and duty to conduct any investigations necessary to carry out its responsibilities. Pursuant to this power and duty, the Ethics Board may administer oaths or affirmations, subpoena witnesses and compel the attendance of witnesses and require the production of any books or records which the Ethics Board deems relevant or material.

(7) 

Notwithstanding the provisions of Article VI of the Public Officers Law, the only Ethics Board records available for public inspection are:

(a) 

The information set forth in the annual Attestation and Financial Disclosure Statements filed pursuant to this Ethics Code.

(b) 

Notices of reasonable cause pursuant to § 42-8A of this Ethics Code.

(c) 

Notices of civil assessments imposed pursuant to this Ethics Code.

A. 

Grounds for suspension or dismissal.

(1) 

If any official, employee, appointee or volunteer refuses or fails to file a Financial Disclosure Statement required by this Ethics Code, the Ethics Board shall notify the Board of Supervisors of such refusal or failure. Upon such notification, the Board of Supervisors may suspend the individual with or without pay. The individual shall be given notice of suspension by certified mail return receipt requested and a copy of such notice shall be provided to the Ethics Board. Such notice shall also inform the individual that the required Financial Disclosure Statement is not on file with the Ethics Board in care of the County Attorney and must be filed forthwith. Once filed, the Ethics Board shall promptly so notify the Board of Supervisors which may then reinstate the individual and may release any monies withheld pursuant to this section.

(2) 

Notwithstanding any other possible penalties imposed by this section, the following shall be deemed violations of this Ethics Code and/or misconduct in office and grounds for suspension and/or dismissal by the appropriate authority:

(a) 

The failure of any individual to file the required Financial Disclosure Statement within 15 days of the mailing of written notice, by certified mail, return receipt requested, that such individual has failed to file such statement;

(b) 

A determination by the Ethics Board, after a hearing, that an official, employee, appointee or volunteer has filed a Financial Disclosure Statement with intent to deceive or intentionally misrepresent the information contained therein; or

[Amended 12-15-1998 by L.L. No. 3-1998]

(c) 

The false answering of any information demanded by the Financial Disclosure Statement, including but not limited to intentional failure to disclose such information.

(3) 

Upon receipt of findings and conclusions of the Ethics Board that there is reasonable cause to believe that a violation and/or misconduct in accordance with the provisions of § 42-7F(2) has occurred, the Board of Supervisors may then take any action it deems appropriate, including suspension or dismissal of the offending individual.

[Amended 12-15-1998 by L.L. No. 3-1998]

B. 

If the Ethics Board determines after a hearing that an official or employee has filed a statement with intent to deceive or has intentionally misrepresented, otherwise fraudulently answered any questions set forth in the Financial Disclosure Statement, or has intentionally withheld any information required by the Statement, and if such deception or misrepresentation is found to be both intentional and material, then such individual may be assessed a civil penalty of not more than $10,000 by the Ethics Board. An assessment of a civil penalty will be final unless suspended or vacated within 30 days of imposition by the Ethics Board.

C. 

It is a violation of this Ethics Code for any individual, except the individual who files such Financial Disclosure Statement, to disclose any information contained on a Financial Disclosure Statement except as authorized by this Ethics Code. A civil action may be brought by the Ethics Board against any organization or individual who or which violates this subsection.

D. 

Nothing in this Section shall be construed to preclude the prosecution of officials, employees, appointees or volunteers for any violation of law or any offense, criminal or civil, pursuant to the laws of the State of New York.

A copy of this Saratoga County Ethics Code shall be filed as required by General Municipal Law § 806.