June 1, 2012
This responds to your inquiry (12-66) asking whether it is ethically permissible to continue to serve as the elected Fire Commissioner of a Fire District for a hamlet within the town where you were recently appointed town justice. The Board of Fire Commissioners, after holding public budget meetings in each hamlet, submits a fire district budget to the town clerk who includes it in the town’s annual budget for Town Board approval. You advise that no one attends the public budget meeting in your hamlet.
The Committee has previously advised that this non-judicial position is incompatible with judicial office. Specifically, the Committee advised that a judge may not continue to serve on the Board of Commissioners for a Fire District where the Fire Commissioner’s primary function is to submit the fire company’s budget for public hearing, modification and approval. The fact that no one attends the open budget meetings in your hamlet does not warrant a different result, as that situation can easily change.
Enclosed, for your convenience, is Opinion 11-22 which addresses this issue.
Very truly yours,
George D. Marlow, Assoc. Justice
Appellate Division, First Dept. (Ret.)