Canton Town Board sets Wednesday hearing on ethics code proposal
Monday, January 13, 2020 - 9:23 am

BY ADAM ATKINSON
North Country This Week

CANTON – The town board will host a public hearing concerning its new proposed ethics code in the municipal building, 60 Main St., at 5:45 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 15.

The board is expected to consider passing a local law adopting the new code during its regular meeting following the hearing.

During the meeting, town officials will also discuss appointing an ethics board to review potential breaches of the code.

Town Supervisor Mary Ann Ashley said the code is now in its final form as a town law, and will provide “a revised legal standard on the expected integrity and conduct of public servants supported by taxpayers.”

It has been a long road toward establishing a new policy to replace the 1975-vintage ethics code for town officials and employees. Both the village and town board began work on a new code as far back as 2017. The two boards appointed a committee in 2018 headed by former County Legislator Tedra Cobb and Kate Murphy tasked with crafting a new version.

Last year, draft versions of the policy were reviewed for several months and public hearings were held on the issue. The Canton village board officially approved their version of the new code of ethics, adding it to the village code, following a public hearing Monday, Nov. 18. Copies of the code can be viewed online at https://bit.ly/332Do7n, and are available at the village clerk’s office.

The town held off on approving the new code last month.

"The Town and Village of Canton worked together on revising Code of Ethics law language. The town took additional time to research any possible impact on the Justice Court due to it being a separate branch of government," said Ashley. "After further due diligence and legal counsel opinion, the board decided that no additional language was necessary."

The 14-page code includes a 3-page disclosure statement, and provisions for handling conflicts of interest for elected and appointed officials and village employees.

It also sets down a process for appointing a 5-member Board of Ethics.

Other business

Additional agenda items for the regular board meeting Jan. 15 include discussion on the state grant for the Miner Street Trail Connector and Willow Island Park enhancements and purchase of a new highway department truck and dump box.

A consultant firm to handle the Oswegatchie River LWRP will be considered.

The board will also review the appointment of the 2020 dog kennel contract and the part time deputy clerk appointment.

A resolution concerning the North Country Sustainability Day and Green Living Fair is also on the agenda.

The town board will also conduct a reorganizational meeting session on Jan. 15 after the hearing. Supervisor appointments for the deputy supervisor, historian, fire wardens and board committees will be considered. The board as a whole will appoint a town tax collector/registrar of vital statistics and marriage officer. Meeting times will be set, an official newspaper and depository will be designated and the mileage allowance established.