COLONIE — Kelly Mateja, the Democratic Party candidate for town supervisor, said she would completely overhaul the town’s enforcement of the state Ethics Law.
“A recent audit by the Office of State Comptroller makes it clear that the Town of Colonie is not following New York state Ethics Laws,” she said in a statement. “The town must take immediate action to address findings in the audit and follow the law.”
The audit, by the Comptroller’s Division of Local Government and School Accountability, found the town did not compel a number of employees to file financial disclosure statements to ensure there are not conflicts between personal and town interests.
According to the audit, released at the end of last year and covered 2017 to 2018, there were 113 employees and officers, 9 percent, who were supposed to file but did not, and 21 positions associated with the town, or 32 percent, who were required to file but did not file. In addition, two board members did not file, 71 officers or employees and 25 others filed the required disclosure statements late or they filed incomplete forms.
“Cost-effective, responsible government starts with open government, and responsible government starts now,” Mateja said. “As a candidate, I will continue to fight for transparency; as Colonie’s next town supervisor, I will put a plan in place to make sure our town government complies with all ethics laws.”
Monitoring disclosure statements is left to the Ethics Board, and the audit faulted the town for not having an active, engaged, fully trained board to fulfill that mission. Mateja said it is not clear to the public who is on the Ethics Board or who to contact if they have concerns about the ethics of town employees. To remedy that, she said, she would utilize the town website to list board members, post meeting schedules, agendas and minutes, a process for lodging complaints and instructions for Freedom of Information Law requests.
“Everyone should know who serves on the Ethics Board, how to contact the Ethics Board, and have access to every agenda and minutes produced by the Ethics Board,” Mateja said. “As of now, none of that information is available.”
She would also require the board to maintain a list of the outside interests of Colonie employees required to file financial disclosures and provide that list to the Purchasing Department to ensure there are no conflicts as per General Municipal Law. She would also implement sanctions for employees who do not file disclosure statements in a timely fashion.
She would also provide more training for Ethics Board members and have a “checks and balance” system to ensure members are fulfilling their duties.
“The Comptroller’s audit also makes clear that the Colonie Ethics Board has functioned too loosely for too long,” Mateja declared. “My plan will mandate stricter internal controls, higher standards and will assure the people of Colonie their town is dedicated to uncompromising compliance and transparency.”
Mateja is running against Republican Peter Crummey for the right to take over for retiring Supervisor Paula Mahan.