Malta ethics panel rebukes supervisor

At long last the investigation of alleged ethics violations by Malta Town Supervisor Paul Sausville has come to a close. The town's ethics committee has submitted its findings to the Town Board, and the board voted to revise the ethics code and personnel manual but not accept the committee's findings at its Monday, July 7, meeting.

The committee found that one of the three complaints leveled against Sausville had merit. The supervisor contacted Joel Bargmann, an architect working on plans for the David R. Meager Community Center Expansion, about the possibility of installing a pool instead of a gymnasium despite the fact the town board had decided against it. The town was billed $10,000 for the study, a bill that was later withdrawn because the Town Board didn't approve the work.

The report notes that "an individual board member may not unilaterally act on behalf of the town board." The committee also found the supervisor's contact with Bargmann "reflected an endeavor on the supervisor's part which tended to raise suspicion among members of the public that he was engaged in an act that was in violation of his trust."

The ethics committee recommended no penalty for the supervisor's violation.

Sausville continued to defend his actions in a press release, saying that town residents had inquired about the pool at public meetings.

"All citizen questions are fair questions and the responsible thing for the town to do is to provide good answers, even when individually some town officials may have already drawn their own conclusions," he said.

The committee studied a similar complaint regarding Sausville's disapproval with plans for Malta's downtown expansion. They found his conduct did not violate ethics laws.

The committee also cleared Sausville of charges that he violated the town's personnel manual by writing a letter to the editor supporting Tara Thomas' run for the Town Board. Their report stated that similar letters of support written by past and current members of the town board "is compelling evidence that the town board's referral of this matter was politically motivated."

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