Franklin County to start ethics board

MALONE – A renewed ethics policy and a new ethics board are in the works in Franklin County.

The county’s last code of ethics was adopted Dec. 31, 1970. It outlines the guidelines county officials and employees are to follow regarding matters such as the handling of information, accepting gifts, and investments in conflict with official duties.

Last week, the Franklin County Board of Legislators discussed how to move forward with updating the ethics policy and starting an ethics board.

“Two or three years ago, when I was mayor of Chateaugay, we got something from the attorney general saying they wanted to see our ethics policy,” board Chairman Billy Jones, D-Chateaugay, said. “If you don’t have one, you just refer to the county ethics board, and the county doesn’t have an ethics board.”

A county ethics board would be separate from the Board of Legislators and would vote on ethical issues involving the actions of the county’s elected officials and all county employees, whether paid or unpaid, or whether serving in a full-time, part-time or advisory capacity.

Jones said the first step in forming the board is to determine how to ethically select and appoint its members.

“I really don’t want politics involved in it at all,” Jones said. “I think how you appoint a board is crucial to that.”

Jones tasked county attorney Jonathan Miller with answering questions on the number of members the board should have, how they’re appointed and who appoints them.

“I’m going to ask county attorneys statewide, number one, if they have a more current ethics policy than 1970 that we can look at, and two, how they go about appointing their boards,” Miller said.

The Board of Legislators will have a work session at 10 a.m. Thursday to further discuss Miller’s findings.