Have You Heard About The Orleans County Ethics Board?

In April 2008, the County Legislature passed Local Law 3 of 2008. This law established the Orleans County Ethics Board. Four County residents and one County employee were selected from applications and appointed by the Legislature to comprise the Board. The Board met for the first time in July 2008 and has been meeting on a regular basis to establish its understanding of responsibilities and role within the local government and to be available to identified entities specified within the Local Law. The following is a brief summary.

The Board is available to assist the Legislature in making determinations of any ethical and/or related matters referred to us by the County Legislature. Also, the Board is available to act as an Ethics Board to any municipality located within the County, at its request, via the Legislature, as well as, other entities as listed in Local Law 3 Section 6, paragraph 3, in establishing rules and regulations relating to possible conflicts between private interests and official duties of present and former local elected officials, officers and employees.

Upon written request, the Board is also available to render advisory opinions to County officers and employees with respect to Article 18 of the General Municipal Law (outlines what an Ethics Board is and its role) and the County Code of Ethics. It should be noted that advisory opinions concerning particular officers, employees or officials shall not be made public or disclosed unless so required by the Freedom of Information Law or required for use in a disciplinary proceeding, or proceeding under Local Law 3 involving the officer, employee or appointed official who requests the advisory opinion. The Ethics Board will maintain as much confidentiality as possible when dealing with presented issues. Whenever a request for access to an advisory opinion is received, the officer, employee or appointed official who requested the opinion shall be notified within forty-eight (48) hours of the receipt of the request. If the request is not an issue that should be addressed by the Ethics Board, the requester will be notified of such and advised of other venues that maybe more appropriate to address the particular issue(s).

The Board does not see itself as an enforcement agent but as an advisory one and does not possess powers of sanction. Therefore, any matters that may relate to disciplinary action or criminal proceeding shall be referred to the appropriate authorities.

Request submission forms may be obtained from the Clerk of the Legislature or printed from this link:  submission form.

The completed submission form should be addressed to The Ethics Board on the front, and returned to the Clerk of the Legislature via an interoffice mail envelope. If the submitter is requesting the submission to be treated as confidential, please mark the sealed envelope as “Confidential”. The submission shall be delivered unopened to the County Board of Ethics Chair or Vice-Chair.

Please follow this link to the text of the Local Law No. 3 of 2008 establishing the Orleans County Ethics Board, and this link to the General Municipal Law establishing the requirements for posting.