COUNTY OF CHAUTAUQUA
INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT AGENCY
CONFLICT OF INTEREST POLICY
All Board Members and employees of County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency (the “Agency”) should be provided with this Conflict of Interest Policy upon commencement of employment or appointment and required to acknowledge that they have read, understand and are in compliance with the terms of this policy. Board members and employees should review on an ongoing basis circumstances that constitute a conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest, abide by this policy and seek guidance when necessary and appropriate.
SECTION 1. GOVERNING LAWS. (A) General. Under State law, the Agency is both an industrial development agency and a local public authority. Various sections of New York State law require local public authority board members and employees to examine conflicts of interest issues that may arise at their respective authority. For example, Section 2824(7) of Public Authorities Law stipulates that the Governance Committee of a local public authority is to examine ethical and conflict of interest issues. Article 18 of General Municipal Law (the “Conflict of Interest Law”) requires officers and employees of industrial development agencies to disclose conflicts of interest and specifies conflicts of interest that are prohibited.
(B) Purpose of Policy. This policy is intended to supplement, but not replace, any applicable state and federal laws governing conflicts of interest applicable to industrial development agencies and other local public authorities.
SECTION 2. COMPLIANCE WITH REQUIREMENTS OF THE CONFLICT OF INTEREST LAW. Board members and employees of the Agency shall at all times comply with the requirements of the Conflict of Interest Law. These requirements include the following:
(A) General Rule. Except as authorized by Section 802 of the Conflict of Interest Law:
(1) No member, officer or employee of the Agency shall have an interest in any contract with the Agency when such member, officer or employee, either individually or as a member of a board, has the power or duty to:
(a) negotiate, prepare, authorize or approve the contract or authorize or approve payment thereunder;
(b) audit bills or claims under the contract; or
(c) appoint an officer or employee who has any of the powers or duties set forth above.
(2) No chief fiscal officer, treasurer, or his or her deputy or employee, of the Agency shall have an interest in a bank or trust company that is designated as a depository, paying agent, registration agent or for investment of funds of the Agency.
(B) Disclosure. Except as provided in subsection (C) below, any member, officer or employee of the Agency who has, will have, or later acquires an interest in any actual or proposed contract with the Agency shall publicly disclose the nature and extent of such interest in writing to the members of the Agency as soon as he or she has knowledge of such actual or prospective interest. Such written disclosure shall be set forth in and made part of the official record of the proceedings of the Agency. Once disclosure has been made with respect to an interest in a contract with a particular person, firm, corporation or association, no further disclosures are required by such member, officer or employee with respect to additional contracts with the same party during the remainder of the fiscal year.
(C) Disclosure Not Required. Pursuant to Section 803(2) of the Conflict of Interest Law, the disclosure required in subsection (B) above is not required in the case of an interest in a contract described in Section 802(2) of the Conflict of Interest Law.
(D) Prohibited Actions. Pursuant to Section 805-a of the Conflict of Interest Law, no member, officer or employee of the Agency shall:
(1) either directly or indirectly, solicit, accept or receive any gift having a value of seventy-five (75) dollars or more, whether in the form of money, service, loan, travel, entertainment, hospitality, thing or promise, or in any other form, under circumstances in which it could reasonably be inferred that the gift was intended as a reward for any official action on his or her part, or that it was intended to or could reasonably be expected to influence him or her in the performance of his or her official duties;
(2) disclose confidential information acquired in the course of his or her official duties or use such information to further his or her personal interests;
(3) receive or enter into any express or implied agreement for compensation for services to be rendered in relation to any matter before the agency; or
(4) receive or enter into any express or implied agreement for compensation for service to be rendered in relation to any matter before the Agency whereby his or her compensation is to be dependent or contingent upon any action by such Agency with respect to that matter; provided, however, that this paragraph shall not prohibit the fixing at any time of fees based upon the reasonable value of the services rendered.
(E) Penalties for Violations.
(1) Pursuant to Section 805 of the Conflict of Interest Law, any officer or employee of the Agency who willfully and knowingly violates the certain provisions of the Conflict of Interest Law may be guilty of a misdemeanor.
(2) Pursuant to Section 805-a of the Conflict of Interest Law, any person who shall knowingly and intentionally violate the Conflict of Interest Law may be fined, suspended or removed from office or employment in the manner provided by law.
(3) Pursuant to Section 804 of the Conflict of Interest Law, any contract that is willfully entered into by or with the Agency in which there is an interest prohibited by the Conflict of Interest Law shall be null, void and wholly unenforceable.
(F) Posting. The Executive Director of the Agency shall have a copy of the Conflict of Interest Law and of this Part posted in the office of the Agency in a place which is conspicuous to the officers, members and employees of the Agency.
(G) Financial Disclosure. Pursuant to Section 810(3) of the Conflict of Interest Law, members, officers and employees of the Agency are deemed officers any employees of the Chautauqua County for purposes of Sections 811, 812 and 813 of the Conflict of Interest Law (said sections deal generally with financial disclosure).
SECTION 3. ADDITIONAL POLICIES RESPECTING CONFLICTS OF INTEREST. To ensure that its board members and employees act in the Agency’s best interest, the Agency expects that board members and employees shall comply with the following policies when a conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest arises:
(A) Conflict of Interest. For purposes of this Section 3, a conflict of interest is a situation in which the financial, familial, or personal interests of a director or employee come into actual or perceived conflict with their duties and responsibilities with the Agency.
(B) Perceived Conflict of Interest. For purposes of this Section 3, a “perceived conflict of interest” is a situation where there is the appearance that a board member and/or employee can personally benefit from an action or decision made in their official capacity, or where a board member or employee may be influenced to act in a manner that does not represent the best interests of the Agency. The perception of a conflict may occur if circumstances would suggest to a reasonable person that a board member may have a conflict. The appearance of a conflict and an actual conflict should be treated in the same manner for the purposes of this Section 3.
(C) Policy. Board members and employees must conduct themselves at all times in a manner that avoids any appearance that they can be improperly or unduly influenced, that they could be affected by the position of or relationship with any other party, or that they are acting in violation of their public trust. While it is not possible to describe or anticipate all the circumstances that might involve a conflict of interest, a conflict of interest typically arises whenever a director or employee has or will have:
- A financial or personal interest in any person, firm, corporation or association which has or will have a transaction, agreement or any other arrangement in which the Agency participates.
- The ability to use his or her position, confidential information or the assets of the Agency, to his or her personal advantage.
- Solicited or accepted a gift of any amount under circumstances in which it could reasonably be inferred that the gift was intended to influence him/her, or could reasonably be expected to influence him/her, in the performance of his/her official duties or was intended as a reward for any action on his/her part.
- Any other circumstance that may or appear to make it difficult for the board member or employee to exercise independent judgment and properly exercise his or her official duties.
(D) Outside Employment of Employees. No employee may engage in outside employment if such employment interferes with his/her ability to properly exercise his or her official duties with the Agency.
(E) Procedures. Whenever a potential conflict of interest shall be present, the following procedures shall be followed:
(1) Duty to Disclose: All material facts related to the conflict of interest (including the nature of the interest and information about the conflicting transaction) shall be disclosed in good faith and in writing to the Agency’s Governance Committee or the Agency’s Ethics Officer. Such written disclosure shall be made part of the official record of the proceedings of the Agency.
(2) Determining Whether a Conflict of Interest Exists: The Governance Committee and/or Ethics Officer shall advise the individual who appears to have a conflict of interest how to proceed. The Governance Committee and/or Ethics Officer should seek guidance from Agency Counsel or New York State agencies, such as the Authorities Budget Office or the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) when dealing with cases where they are unsure of what to do.
(3) Recusal and Abstention: No board member 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, 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 organization in which he or she is deemed to have an interest. Board members and employees must recuse themselves from deliberations, votes, or internal discussion on matters relating to any organization, entity or individual where their impartiality in the deliberation or vote might be reasonably questioned, and are prohibited from attempting to influence other board members or employees in the deliberation and voting on the matter.
(4) Records of Conflicts of Interest: The minutes of the Agency’s meetings during which a perceived or actual conflict of interest is disclosed or discussed shall reflect the name of the interested person, the nature of the conflict, and a description of how the conflict was resolved.
(5) Reporting of Violations: Board members and employees should promptly report any violations of this policy to his or her supervisor, or to the Agency’s Ethics Officer, general counsel or human resources representative in accordance with the Agency’s Whistleblower Policy and Procedures.
(6) Penalties: Any director or employee that fails to comply with this Section 3 may be penalized in the manner provided for in law, rules or regulations.