Opinion 97 - 8

This opinion represents the views of the Office of the State Comptroller at the time it was rendered. The opinion may no longer represent those views if, among other things, there have been subsequent court cases or statutory amendments that bear on the issues discussed in the opinion.

CITIES -- Powers and Duties (requirement that claims be certified)

CLAIMS -- Certification of (necessity for in city)

LOCAL LAWS -- Claims (certification requirement)

SECOND CLASS CITIES LAW, §64; MUNICIPAL HOME RULE LAW, §10(l)(ii)(a)(5): A city is not required by general State statute to accept only vouchers which have been certified.

You ask whether a city is required by State law to accept only vouchers which have been certified by the claimant.

There is no State statute applicable to cities generally which requires certification or verification of claims against a city (see 12 Opns St Comp, 1956, p 442). In this regard, we note that Second Class Cities Law, §64 prescribes the audit of claims procedures for most claims against cities governed by that provision (see Second Class Cities Law, §4). That section provides, in pertinent part, that "[t]he common council, by resolution, may require that claims be certified or that they be verified ...". The quoted language was added by chapter 550 of the Laws of 1983 for the express purpose of making vendor certification or verification "optional with the [city] governing board" (Memorandum of the State Comptroller in Support of the bill which became L 1983, ch 550, 1983 Legislative Annual, p 239; 1990 Opns St Comp No. 90-9, p 21). Prior to this amendment, section 64 required that claims be verified.

Accordingly, a city is not required by general State statute to accept only vouchers which have been certified. We note, however, that a city charter may provide a certification or verification requirement (see Municipal Home Rule Law, §10[1][ii][a][5]; Second Class Cities Law, §4). It is our opinion that such a charter provision may be amended by local law to eliminate that requirement (see 12 Opns St Comp, 1956, supra; Municipal Home Rule Law, §10[l][i], [ii][a][5]).

February 21, 1997
Terrence M. Hammill, Mayor
City of Oswego