City of Schenectady, NY
Schenectady County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Council of the City of Schenectady 1-25-1971 by L.L. No. 2-1971; amended in its entirety 3-26-2012 by L.L. No. 1-2012. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Grievance procedures —  See Ch. 60.
Personnel policies — See Ch. 87.

§ 48-1 Purpose.

A. 
Officers and employees of the City of Schenectady hold their positions to serve and benefit the public and not for obtaining unwarranted personal or private gain in the exercise and performance of their official powers and duties. The City Council recognizes that, in furtherance of this fundamental principle, there is a need for clear and reasonable standards of ethical conduct. This Code of Ethics establishes those standards.
B. 
This Code of Ethics also regulates the completion and filing of annual statements of financial disclosure by municipal officers, employees and elected officials.

§ 48-2 Definitions.

As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
BOARD
The governing board of a municipality and any municipal administrative board (e.g., Planning Board), commission, or other agency or body comprised of two or more municipal officers or employees.
CODE
This Code of Ethics.
INTEREST
A direct or indirect financial or material benefit, but does not include any benefit arising from the provision or receipt of any services generally available to the residents or taxpayers of the municipality or an area of the municipality, or a lawful class of such residents or taxpayers. A municipal officer or employee is deemed to have an interest in any private organization when he or she, his or her spouse, or a member of his or her household is an owner, partner, member, director, officer, employee, or directly or indirectly owns or controls more than 5% of the organization's outstanding stock.
MUNICIPALITY
The City of Schenectady. The word "municipal" refers to the municipality.
MUNICIPAL OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE
A paid or unpaid officer or employee of the City of Schenectady, including, but not limited to, the members of any municipal board.
RELATIVE
A spouse, parent, stepparent, sibling, step-sibling, sibling's spouse, child, stepchild, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, first cousin, or household member of a municipal officer or employee, and individuals having any of these relationships to the spouse of the officer or employee.

§ 48-3 Applicability.

This Code of Ethics applies to the officers and employees of the City of Schenectady, and shall supersede any prior municipal Code of Ethics. The provisions of this Code of Ethics shall apply in addition to all applicable state and local laws relating to conflicts of interest and ethics, including, but not limited to, Article 18 of the General Municipal Law and all rules, regulations, policies and procedures of the City of Schenectady.

§ 48-4 Use of municipal position for personal or private gain prohibited.

No municipal officer or employee shall use his or her municipal position or official powers and duties to secure a financial or material benefit for himself or herself, a relative, or any private organization in which he or she is deemed to have an interest.

§ 48-5 Disclosure of interest in legislation, contracts and other matters.

A. 
Any municipal officer or employee (or spouse of such municipal officer or employee) who has, will have, or later acquires an interest in any actual or proposed contract, purchase agreement, lease agreement or other agreement, including oral agreements, with the municipality of which he/she is an officer or employee shall disclose, in writing, the nature and extent of such interest.
B. 
Whenever a matter requiring the exercise of discretion comes before a municipal officer or employee, either individually or as a member of a board, and the disposition of the matter could result in a direct or indirect financial or material benefit to himself or herself, a relative, or any private organization in which he or she is deemed to have an interest, the municipal officer or employee shall disclose, in writing, the nature of the interest.
C. 
The disclosure shall be made when the matter requiring disclosure first comes before the municipal officer or employee, or when the municipal officer or employee first acquires knowledge of the interest requiring disclosure, whichever is earlier.
D. 
In the case of a person serving in an elective office, the disclosure shall be filed with the City Clerk, who shall be the Clerk of the Ethics Board. In all other cases, the disclosure shall be filed with the person's supervisor, or, if the person does not have a supervisor, the disclosure shall be filed with the municipal officer, employee or board having the power to appoint to the person's position. In the case of a person serving on a municipal board, a copy of the disclosure shall be filed with the board. Any disclosure made to a board shall be made publicly at a meeting of the board and must be included in the minutes of the meeting.

§ 48-6 Recusal and abstention.

A. 
No municipal officer or employee may participate in any decision or take any official action with respect to any matter requiring the exercise of discretion, including discussing the matter and voting on it, when he or she knows or has reason to know that the action could confer a direct or indirect financial or material benefit on himself or herself, a relative, or any private organization in which he or she is deemed to have an interest.
B. 
In the event that this section prohibits a municipal officer or employee from exercising or performing a power or duty:
(1) 
If the power or duty is vested in a municipal officer as a member of a board, then the power or duty shall be exercised or performed by the other members of the board; or
(2) 
If the power or duty is vested in a municipal officer individually, then the power or duty shall be exercised or performed by his or her deputy, or, if the officer does not have a deputy, the power or duty shall be performed by another person to whom the officer may lawfully delegate the function.
(3) 
If the power or duty is vested in a municipal employee, he or she must refer the matter to his or her immediate supervisor, and the immediate supervisor shall designate another person to exercise or perform the power or duty.

§ 48-7 Exemptions from disclosure, recusal and abstention.

A. 
This Code of Ethics' disclosure, recusal and abstention requirements shall not apply with respect to the following matters:
(1) 
Adoption of the municipality's annual budget;
(2) 
Any matter requiring the exercise of discretion that directly affects all municipal officers or employees, all residents or taxpayers of the municipality or an area of the municipality; or the general public;
B. 
Recusal and abstention shall not be required with respect to any matter:
(1) 
Which comes before a board when a majority of the board's total membership would otherwise be prohibited from acting;
(2) 
Which comes before a municipal officer when the officer would be prohibited from acting, and the matter cannot be lawfully delegated to another person.

§ 48-8 Investments in conflict with official duties.

A. 
No municipal officer or employee may acquire the following investments:
(1) 
Investments that can be reasonably expected to require more than sporadic recusal and abstention; or
(2) 
Investments that would otherwise impair the person's independence of judgment in the exercise or performance of his or her official powers and duties.
B. 
This section does not prohibit a municipal officer or employee from acquiring any other investments or the following assets:
(1) 
Real property located within the municipality and used as his or her personal residence;
(2) 
Less than 5% of the stock of a publicly traded corporation; or
(3) 
Bonds or notes issued by the municipality and acquired more than one year after the date on which the bonds or notes were originally issued.

§ 48-9 Private employment in conflict with official duties.

No municipal officer or employee, during his or her tenure as a municipal officer or employee, may engage in any private employment, including the rendition of any business, commercial, professional or other types of services, when the employment:
A. 
Can be reasonably expected to require more than sporadic recusal and abstention;
B. 
Can be reasonably expected to require disclosure or use of confidential information gained by reason of serving as a municipal officer or employee;
C. 
Would require representation of a person or organization other than the municipality in connection with litigation, negotiations or any other matter to which the municipality is a party;
D. 
Would result in any other violation of Article 18 of the General Municipal Law not herein enumerated.

§ 48-10 Future employment.

A. 
No municipal officer or employee may ask for, pursue or accept a private post-government employment opportunity with any person or organization that has a matter requiring the exercise of discretion pending before the municipal officer or employee, either individually or as a member of a board, while the matter is pending or within the 30 days following final disposition of the matter.
B. 
No municipal officer or employee, for the two-year period after serving as a municipal officer or employee, may represent or render services to a private person or organization in connection with any matter involving the exercise of discretion before the municipal office, board, department or comparable organizational unit for which he or she serves.
C. 
No municipal officer or employee, at any time after serving as a municipal officer or employee, may represent or render services to a private person or organization in connection with any particular transaction in which he or she personally and substantially participated while serving as a municipal officer or employee.

§ 48-11 Personal representations and claims permitted.

This Code of Ethics shall not be construed as prohibiting a municipal officer or employee from:
A. 
Representing himself or herself, or his or her spouse or minor children, before the municipality; or
B. 
Asserting a claim against the municipality on his or her own behalf or on behalf of his or her spouse or minor children and dependents.

§ 48-12 Use of municipal resources.

A. 
Municipal resources shall be used for lawful municipal purposes. Municipal resources include, but are not limited to, municipal personnel and the municipality's money, vehicles, equipment, materials, supplies or other property.
B. 
No municipal officer or employee may use or permit the use of municipal resources for personal or private purposes. This provision shall not be construed as prohibiting:
(1) 
Any use of municipal resources authorized by law or municipal policy;
(2) 
The use of municipal resources for personal or private purposes when provided to a municipal officer or employee as part of his or her compensation; or
(3) 
The occasional and incidental use during the business day of municipal telephones and computers for necessary personal matters such as family care and changes in work schedule.
C. 
No municipal officer or employee shall cause the municipality to spend more than is reasonably necessary for transportation, meals or lodging in connection with official travel.

§ 48-13 Interests in contracts.

No municipal officer or employee may have an interest in a contract that is prohibited by § 801 of the General Municipal Law.

§ 48-14 Nepotism.

Except as otherwise required by law:
A. 
No municipal officer or employee, either individually or as a member of a board, may participate in any decision specifically to appoint, hire, promote, discipline or discharge a relative for any position at, for or within the municipality or a municipal board.
B. 
No municipal officer or employee may supervise a relative in the performance of the relative's official powers or duties.

§ 48-15 Political solicitations.

A. 
No municipal officer or employee shall directly or indirectly compel or induce a subordinate municipal officer or employee to make or promise to make any political contribution, whether by gift of money, service or other thing of value.
B. 
No municipal officer or employee may act or decline to act in relation to appointing, hiring or promoting, discharging, disciplining, or in any manner changing the official rank, status or compensation of any municipal officer or employee, or an applicant for a position as a municipal officer or employee, on the basis of the giving or withholding or neglecting to make any contribution of money or service or any other valuable thing for any political purpose.

§ 48-16 Confidential information.

No municipal officer or employee who acquires confidential information in the course of exercising or performing his or her official powers or duties may disclose or use such information unless the disclosure or use is required by law or in the course of exercising or performing his or her official powers and duties.

§ 48-17 Gifts.

A. 
No municipal officer or employee shall directly or indirectly solicit, accept or receive a gift in violation of § 805-a(1)(a) of the General Municipal Law. No municipal officer or employee may accept or receive any gift, or multiple gifts from the same donor, having an annual aggregate value of $75 or more when:
(1) 
The gift reasonably appears to be intended to influence the officer or employee in the exercise or performance of his or her official powers or duties;
(2) 
The gift could reasonably be expected to influence the officer or employee in the exercise or performance of his or her official powers or duties; or
(3) 
The gift is intended as a reward for any official action on the part of the officer or employee.
B. 
For purposes of this section, a "gift" includes anything of value, whether in the form of money, service, loan, travel, entertainment, hospitality, thing or promise, or in any other form. The value of a gift is the gift's fair market value, determined by the retail cost of the item or a comparable item. The fair market value of a ticket entitling the holder to food, refreshments, entertainment, or any other benefit is the face value of the ticket, or the actual cost to the donor, whichever is greater. Determination of whether multiple gifts from a single donor exceed $75 must be made by adding together the value of all gifts received from the donor by an officer or employee during the twelve-month period preceding the receipt of the most recent gift.
C. 
A gift to a municipal officer or employee is presumed to be intended to influence the exercise or performance of his or her official powers or duties when the gift is from a private person or organization that seeks municipal action involving the exercise of discretion by or with the participation of the officer or employee.
D. 
A gift to a municipal officer or employee is presumed to be intended as a reward for official action when the gift is from a private person or organization that has obtained municipal action involving the exercise of discretion by or with the participation of the officer or employee during the preceding 12 months.
E. 
This section does not prohibit any other gift, including:
(1) 
Gifts made to the municipality;
(2) 
Gifts from a person with a family or personal relationship with the officer or employee when the circumstances make it clear that the personal relationship, rather than the recipient's status as a municipal officer or employee, is the primary motivating factor for the gift;
(3) 
Gifts given on special occasions, such as marriage, illness, or retirement, which are modest, reasonable and customary;
(4) 
Unsolicited advertising or promotional material of little intrinsic value, such as pens, pencils, notepads, and calendars;
(5) 
Awards and plaques having a value of $75 or less which are publicly presented in recognition of service as a municipal officer or employee or other service to the community; or
(6) 
Meals and refreshments provided when a municipal officer or employee is a speaker or participant at a job-related professional or educational conference or program and the meals and refreshments are made available to all participants.

§ 48-18 Board of Ethics.

A. 
There is hereby established a Board of Ethics for the City of Schenectady. The Board shall be composed of five members.
(1) 
Members shall be appointed by the Mayor, subject to confirmation by the City Council. If the Mayor shall fail to appoint the members within 30 days after the establishment of the Board of Ethics or within 30 days after a vacancy occurs on the Board of Ethics, the City Council shall appoint such member or members, as the case may be.
(2) 
The members of the Board of Ethics shall serve five-year staggered terms of office, one such term expiring each year. In the event that a vacancy occurs prior to the expiration of the five-year term, such vacancy shall be filled for the balance of such term in the same manner as members are appointed to full terms.
(3) 
At least one member of the Board shall be an officer or employee of the City of Schenectady, but a majority of the Board may not consist of officers or employees of the City.
(4) 
All members shall reside within the City of Schenectady.
(5) 
No member shall be compensated for his/her Board-related activities.
(6) 
The members shall elect a Chairperson from among themselves and such other officers as may be deemed necessary from time to time.
B. 
A Board of Ethics member may be removed by the Mayor with the approving consent of not less than five members of the City Council after a finding of substantial neglect of duty, gross misconduct in office, inability to discharge the powers or duties of the office or violation of this chapter after written notice of the charges and an opportunity for reply.
C. 
The City Clerk shall be the Clerk of the Board of Ethics, and all documents filed with the City Clerk shall be deemed, for the purposes of this chapter, to be filings with the Board of Ethics.
D. 
The Board of Ethics shall have all the powers and duties as prescribed by Article 18 of the General Municipal Law. The Board of Ethics may adopt and amend such rules or procedures as are appropriate.
E. 
The Board of Ethics shall render advisory opinions to the officers and employees of the City of Schenectady with respect to Article 18 of the General Municipal Law and this Code of Ethics. Such advisory opinions must be rendered pursuant to the written request of any such officer or employee under such rules and regulations as the Board of Ethics may prescribe. The Board of Ethics shall have the advice of legal counsel employed by the Board or, if none, the municipality's legal counsel. In addition, the Board of Ethics may make recommendations with respect to the drafting and adoption of a Code of Ethics, or amendments thereto, upon the request of the City Council.
F. 
The Board of Ethics shall adopt rules governing the conduct of adjudicatory proceedings and appeals relating to the assessment of the civil penalties authorized by law. Assessment of a civil penalty shall be final unless modified, suspended or vacated within 30 days of imposition and upon becoming final shall be subject to review at the instance of the affected reporting individual in a proceeding commenced against the appropriate body pursuant to Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules.

§ 48-19 Disclosure of financial status.

Pursuant to Article 18 of the New York State General Municipal Law, the City of Schenectady hereby adopts the following financial disclosure policy:
A. 
The Mayor of the City of Schenectady shall file with the City Clerk, on or before January 1 of each year, a list of the names or the office, title or job classification of those officers and employees who shall be required to file the annual financial disclosure statement.
B. 
Time of filing. All financial statements shall be filed on or before April 30 of every year following enactment of this subsection during the term of the city official's office. The time for filing such statement may be extended pursuant to the Board of Ethics, for justifiable cause and for undue hardship upon application to the Board of Ethics pursuant to the rules and regulation set forth in the law.
C. 
Place and manner of filing. Financial disclosure statements are to be completed and filed with the Schenectady City Clerk. Said statements shall be confidential and shall be made accessible to the general public and to other members of the city officers and employees and City Council by formal Freedom of Information Law[1] request through the City Clerk's office.
[1]:
Editor's Note: See Public Officers Law § 84 et seq.
D. 
The Board of Ethics shall have all necessary authority to enforce the filing requirements of this chapter, including the authority to promulgate such rules and regulations as the Board of Ethics determines are necessary to implement this chapter. The Board of Ethics shall be authorized to review requests for exceptions with respect to complying with timely filing of such disclosure statements due to justifiable cause or undue hardship. The Board of Ethics shall inspect all financial disclosure statements filed with the Board of Ethics to ascertain whether any person subject to the reporting requirements of this chapter, a Code of Ethics, local law, ordinance or resolution has failed to file such a statement, has filed a deficient statement or has filed a statement which reveals a possible violation of the law.
E. 
Failure to file a timely disclosure. If a person required to file a financial disclosure statement with the Board of Ethics has failed to file a disclosure statement or has filed a deficient statement, the Board of Ethics shall notify the reporting person in writing, state the failure to file or detail the deficiency, provide the person with a fifteen-day period to cure the deficiency and advise the person of the penalties for failure to comply with the reporting requirements. If the person fails to make such filing or fails to cure the deficiency within the specified time period, the Board of Ethics shall send a notice of delinquency to the reporting person and to the appointing authority for such person.
F. 
Opportunity to be heard. If a reporting person has filed a statement which reveals a possible violation of a duly adopted Code of Ethics of the City of Schenectady, local law, ordinance or resolution or if the Board of Ethics receives a sworn complaint alleging such a violation or if the Board of Ethics determines on its own initiative to investigate a possible violation, the Board of Ethics shall notify the reporting person in writing, describe the possible or alleged violation of such Code of Ethics, local law, ordinance or resolution or of this chapter and provide the person with a fifteen-day period in which to submit a written response setting forth information relating to the activities cited as a possible or alleged violation of law. If the Board of Ethics thereafter makes a determination that further inquiry is justified, it shall give the reporting person an opportunity to be heard. The Board shall also inform the reporting individual of its rules regarding the conduct of adjudicatory proceedings and appeals and the due process procedural mechanisms available to such individual.
(1) 
If the Board determines at any stage of the proceeding that there is no violation or that any potential conflict of interest violation has been rectified, it shall so advise the reporting person and the complainant, if any. All of the foregoing proceedings shall be confidential.
(2) 
If the Board determines that there is reasonable cause to believe that a violation has occurred, it shall send a notice of reasonable cause to the reporting person, to the complainant, if any, and to the City Council of the City of Schenectady.

§ 48-20 Enforcement; penalties.

A. 
Any municipal officer or employee who violates this Code of Ethics may be censured, fined, suspended or removed from office or employment in the manner provided by law.
B. 
A reporting individual who knowingly and willfully fails to file an annual statement of financial disclosure or who knowingly and willfully with intent to deceive makes a false statement or gives information which such individual knows to be false on such statement of financial disclosure filed pursuant to this section shall be assessed a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed $10,000. Assessment of a civil penalty hereunder shall be made by the Board of Ethics.
C. 
For a violation of this chapter, the Board of Ethics of the political subdivision or other municipality may, in lieu of a civil penalty, refer a violation to the appropriate prosecutor and upon such conviction, but only after such referral, such violation shall be punishable as a Class A misdemeanor. This excludes conduct which constitutes a violation of Subdivision 12 of § 73 of the Public Officers Law.
D. 
A civil penalty for false filing may not be imposed hereunder in the event a category of "value" or "amount" reported hereunder is incorrect unless such reported information is falsely understated.
E. 
Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, no other penalty, civil or criminal, may be imposed for a failure to file, or for a false filing, of such statement, except that the appointing authority may impose disciplinary action as otherwise provided by law.

§ 48-21 Posting and distribution.

A. 
The Mayor must promptly cause a copy of this Code of Ethics, and a copy of any amendment to this Code of Ethics, to be posted publicly and conspicuously in each building under the municipality's control. The Code of Ethics must be posted within 10 days following the date on which the Code of Ethics takes effect. Any amendment to the Code of Ethics must be posted within 10 days following the date on which the amendment takes effect.
B. 
The Mayor must promptly cause a copy of this Code of Ethics, including any amendments to the Code of Ethics, to be distributed to every person who is or becomes an officer and employee of the City of Schenectady.
C. 
Every municipal officer or employee who receives a copy of this Code of Ethics or an amendment to the Code of Ethics must acknowledge such receipt in writing. Such acknowledgments must be filed with the Clerk of the municipality, who must maintain such acknowledgments as a public record.
D. 
The failure to post this Code of Ethics or an amendment to the Code of Ethics does not affect either the applicability or enforceability of the Code of Ethics or the amendment. The failure of a municipal officer or employee to receive a copy of this Code of Ethics or an amendment to the Code of Ethics or to acknowledge receipt thereof in writing does not affect either the applicability or enforceability of the Code of Ethics or amendment to the Code of Ethics.

§ 48-22 Whistleblower protection.

The City of Schenectady hereby recognizes the prohibition against retaliatory personnel action provided in Article 20-C of the New York State Labor Law and shall enforce the provisions of the law.

§ 48-23 When effective.

This Code of Ethics takes effect immediately.