Different towns, different rules

A March 31 decision by the New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division decision ruled the Colonie Commissioner of the Department of Public Works must be a resident of the town, but it is unclear what affect that would have on other municipalities the area.

Following the decision, Colonie officials passed a resolution on Thursday, April 7, that would extend the commissioner's residency out to Albany County, allowing Department of Public Works Commissioner Jack Cunningham, a resident of Bethlehem, to be reappointed that evening. Town Attorney Mike Magguilli said the town is relying on Municipal Home Rule law to amend a local law for municipal requirement. This requires the town to specifically cite in the local law the sections of the state law it intends to supersede.

There are some municipalities that have already made sure their town officials are residents, but others like Colonie, have had to amend some of their local laws to make sure their appointees are still valid.

The city of Albany has a local law in place that requires every commissioner-level and chief-level person to be a resident of the City of Albany, according to Bob VanAmburgh, executive assistant to Mayor Jerry Jennings.

They require confirmation by City Council, he said. "It does not apply to deputies or assistants."

According to Law 62-1, "all department heads subject to confirmation by the Common Council hired after the effective date of the law shall be residents of the city during such employment or become residents of the city within 180 days."

In the Town of Bethlehem, James Potter, the town's attorney, said there are certain residency requirements within the town law for some positions. For example, the town attorney, which is considered to be an officer's position, must be a resident of the town. This is bound by state law, which he said the town does not have the power to supersede. He said the town is allowed to supersede state law, however, if it is done in a specific way and the intentions are clear.

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