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NYS Comptroller


The Academy for New York State's Local Officials

Protecting the Public’s Interest: A Tutorial on Local Government Ethics and Transparency in New York State

Module 1 - Conflict of Interest of Municipal Officers and Employees

What Is a Contract?

A "contract" can either be an "agreement" with a municipality or a "claim, account or demand" against it. A contract may be express (i.e., directly or distinctly stated) or implied (i.e., inferred from the circumstances). Most contracts are written; however, a contract can also be an oral agreement. Most business dealings with a municipality involve a contract.

In addition, the law defines a contract as including the designation of a bank or trust company with which a municipality deposits public funds. A contract also includes the designation of newspapers used for publishing notices, resolutions, ordinances, or other proceedings.

The Comptroller’s Office has concluded that certain matters do not constitute or give rise to contracts under Article 18. For example, as a rule, land use actions such as zoning changes, variances, site plan and subdivision approvals, and the granting of building permits, are not contracts. Similarly, gifts generally do not fall into the statutory definition of a contract because a gift is a voluntary transfer of property from one party to another without consideration. In addition, intermunicipal agreements are not contracts within the meaning of Article 18.

Let's hear what Mark has to say about contracts.

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