Supplements to an official's salary

Supplements to an official's salary Informal Opinions of the Attorney General, 98-16 A county Industrial Development Agency is authorized to issue bonds and grant tax exemptions as a means of providing financial assistance to business projects approved by the Agency. The employment contract between the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency [NCIDA] and its executive director provided that the director was to be paid an annual salary of $69,000 and, in addition, "would receive 1.5% of the agency fees" collected by NCIDA for "bond projects." There may have been some question concerning paying the director additional compensation based on a percentage of the fees received by NCIDA as the contract also provided that "in the event the additional payment was held unenforceable or in conflict with State Legislation, a minimum additional payment of $3,000 per year would be paid … in place of the percentage payment." When asked if either of these provisions violated State Law, the Attorney General advised the Niagara County Attorney's office that in his view, both provisions constituted violations of Section 858-a(1) of the General Municipal Law. The Attorney General first noted that the granting of the percentage of the agency fee collected by the Agency was "contingent upon the granting of financial assistance," and thus violated the statute. He then observed that the alternative formula for supplementing the director's salary — the additional payment of $3,000 per year — was unlawful for the same reason. The Attorney General viewed the supplement as being contingent on NCIDA's collecting fees for its financial assistance, commenting that "[p]resumably, if [such payment] was unrelated to financial assistance to clients of [NCIDA], it would be a fixed amount that is part of the base salary of the executive director." The County Attorney's office also wanted to know what NCIDA should consider doing if the Attorney General decided that its arrangement with its executive director violated the General Municipal Law. The Attorney General said that "contract provisions that are contrary to statutory requirements intended to protect the public and prevent fraud are void and unenforceable [and] [t]herefore the unlawful payments may be recoverable."

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