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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 3 - Case Studies on Conflicts of Interest

Discussion of Situation 2

A member of a town board is employed as a mechanic by a village. The town and the village have an agreement under which the village’s mechanics service town machinery and equipment if town employees are unable to do so. The individual in question is paid on an hourly basis and works a set number of hours per week, regardless of whether he performs any repairs on town equipment during that week.

Does the town board member have a prohibited interest in a contract between the town and the village? Why or why not? If he does not have a prohibited interest, are there any other issues with which the town should be concerned?

This arrangement between the two governments is an intermunicipal agreement and is not a “contract” within the meaning of Article 18; therefore, the interest is not prohibited.

Other Issues to Consider:

Once again, the town’s code of ethics should be examined for any pertinent provisions, such as a provision requiring disclosure or a provision requiring the town board member to recuse himself or abstain from voting on matters relating to the village that come before the town board. If the town’s code of ethics lacks such provisions, the town board member, to avoid even an appearance of impropriety, should disclose his interest and refrain from participating in town board discussions and decisions involving the village.

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