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Hamilton County Code of Ethics may be amended

Monday, April 08, 2013 - Updated: 11:04 AM


Express News Staff

LAKE PLEASANT - A public hearing will be held May 2 on amending the Hamilton County Code of Ethics.

The proposed amendment is the result of numerous meetings between the Hamilton County Board of Ethics and County Attorney Charles R. Getty Jr. over the past year. The Board of Ethics has determined the 1995 Code of Ethics is more restrictive than Article 18 of General Municipal Law, which at times creates undue hardship.

Article 18 is New York state's conflicts of interest law for municipal officials.

The Board of Ethics has recommended the Hamilton County Board of Supervisors amend the Code of Ethics to allow the Board of Ethics to grant waivers under certain circumstances.

The possible need for an amendment arose in early 2012, when James Curry, who retired as district attorney at the end of December 2011, asked the Board of Ethics if it would be a violation of the Code of Ethics if he worked as a public defender in the county court system.

The Code of Ethics currently prohibits former employees from working for the county for at least one year.

After much discussion with Getty, the Board of Ethics resolved that it would not be a violation and that it had no objection to Curry being appointed to the list of public defenders. The Board of Supervisors subsequently appointed Curry to the list.


The proposed amendment would allow the Board of Ethics to grant waivers from restrictions that exceed Article 18 of General Municipal Law.

Specifically, it would allow the Board of Ethics to grant a waiver from any of the provisions of the Code of Ethics where doing so would not conflict with the purposes and interests of the county, so long as the waiver does not permit any conduct or interest prohibited by Article 18.

Waivers could not be granted pertaining to gifts, appearances by a county official's private employer or business, and transactional disclosures.

Anyone seeking a waiver would be required to obtain written approval with justification for a waiver from the applicable department head.

Waivers granted by the Board of Ethics would have to be in writing, state the grounds upon which they are granted, and be made part of the public record.

The public hearing will be held Thursday, May 2, starting at 11 a.m. at the county courthouse.


In other business when the Board of Supervisors met Thursday, April 4:

• The Hamilton County Board of Elections Office was authorized to upgrade its computer systems to accommodate Election Management System updates and pay Prism Technology and Support, Whitesboro, $2,000 for the needed computer equipment.

• The board authorized paying $22,193 to Van Bortel Ford Inc., East Rochester, for a 2013 Ford E-350 12-passenger van for the Community Services Department.

• The board authorized paying $17,786 to Hoselton Auto Mall, East Rochester, for a 2013 Chevrolet Impala for the Public Health Department.

• The board authorized paying $60,000 to Tracey Road Equipment Inc., East Syracuse, for two used Ti-Brook Dump Trailers.

• Hamilton County has applied for and received Tourism Matching Funds of $143,990 through I Love New York to be used by the Adirondack Regional Tourism Council for summer, fall, fishing, snowmobiling and birding promotions.

• The board authorized signing a grant application by the Hamilton County Public Health Nursing Service and to the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee for $2,400 to cover the purchase of child safety seats and materials for the low-income distribution program, for Oct. 1, 2013 through Sept. 31, 2014.


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