September 30, 2010

Court approves county personnel officer’s payroll decertification of individuals not employed in accordance with the Civil Service Law

Court approves county personnel officer’s payroll decertification of individuals not employed in accordance with the Civil Service Law
North Greenbush v Director of Personnel, Supreme Court, [Not selected for publication in the Official Reports]

Section 100 of the Civil Service Law requires the responsible civil service commission to periodically certify the payroll of all of the public entities under its jurisdiction.

The responsible commission is required to examine the agency’s payroll at least once each year “to determine that all persons employed in such department, agency or authority are employed in accordance with law.” Section 101 of the Civil Service Law makes it a misdemeanor to pay an individual whom the responsible commission has refused to certify on the payroll.

On May 24, 1999, Rensselaer County Bureau of Personnel Director Christian K. Mahoney wrote to the Town of North Greenbush setting “52 conditions” that the Town had to meet in order for its payroll to be certified. The Town complied with 45 of these conditions. It, however, challenged Mahoney’s determination that seven police officers employed by the Town were not eligible to remain on the payroll.

According to Justice James B. Canfield’s decision, “these issues [involving the police officers] have been simmering for years in some cases.” He noted that North Greenbush and the affected police officers “merely ignored them” until the May 24, 1999 letter rather than “promptly challenge them administratively.”

Essentially, said the court, North Greenbush “failed to demonstrate that it was in compliance [with the Civil Service Law] or that either it or the officers pursued their administrative remedies prior to May 24, 1999.”

Ruling that North Greenbush failed to meet it burden of proving that Mahoney’s efforts “to enforce the civil service law by refusing to certify the payroll at this time is arbitrary, capricious or illegal,” Justice Canfield dismissed its petition.
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