This is a copy of the job description for a Saratoga Springs City Attorney placed on the Saratoga County Bar Association Website
Mayor Ron Kim has posted the position of City Attorney on the Saratoga County Bar Association website (see above). This ad is quite troubling in a number of ways.
The Residency Issue
The job description contains no residency requirement.
As recently as the January 18, 2022, City Council meeting, Mayor Kim has continued to insist that the City Attorney is not a public officer. It is on this basis that he has claimed that they are not subject to a residency requirement. In support of his assertion at that meeting, he declared that our city attorneys do not take an oath of office. He stated:
“So we [JK: We?] think it’s very clear the City Attorney is not a public officer. The criteria that this case goes through so to set that out [sic]. They don’t take an oath like a district attorney.”Mayor Kim, January 18, 2022 Council Meeting.
Unfortunately for Mayor Kim, the facts do not bear him out. At the bottom of this post, the reader will find the oaths of office taken by all the City Attorneys in Saratoga Springs for the last twenty years.
Evidence shows beyond a doubt that the position is a “public officer”. To allow a non-resident to hold the position would require action by the City Council either requesting the NY State Legislature to pass a Home Rule law (the preferred method) or adopting a local law allowing the city to waive the residency requirement.
Even if the exception were to be established, state law would still require that candidates would need to be a resident of the county, so one way or the other, a proper job description would have to address a residency requirement. Without Council action (which could take from weeks to months) the job at this point requires the applicant to be a city resident.
The Lack of Council Action Regarding the City Attorney Position’s Terms of Employment
As readers may recall, Mayor Kim drafted a resolution for the last City Council meeting proposing terms of employment for the City Attorney position. These included a reduction in hours for the position and a salary range. Previously the City Attorney was a full-time position requiring forty hours and the city employed an Assistant City Attorney to work up to 29 hours. Kim’s resolution proposed only a single City Attorney who would work “an average of thirty hours a week.” [JK: The concept of “average” for calculating a salary is problematic and I am deeply troubled by the radical reduction of in-house counsel time but that will have to wait for a separate post.]
That resolution was withdrawn before the Council meeting. Nevertheless, the terms of employment now appear in the job posting for a City Attorney even though they were never approved by the City Council as required. The Mayor is not authorized to make these offers of terms of employment on his own. It would seem to be improper and unfair to applicants to offer them conditions of employment before those terms have been appropriately authorized by the Council.
One has to wonder what his Democratic colleagues on the Council think of this. But then, they have no one to turn to for legal advice…….
Note: The attorneys serve two-year terms unless they are filling out a term that a previous attorney had vacated. In browsing these oaths the reader will find multiple entries for the same attorney in some cases because they were required to take an oath for each new term.