Filing Number: 03-02
Subject: Home Repair Loan/Grant
Keywords: appearance of impropriety, conflict, county grant, Department of Community Services, employee, federal government, grant, program, unwarranted privilege
Decision By: Commissioners: Dennis Clower, Loren Grober, Wendy Jamison, Stephanie McClellan, V. Eugene McCoy, John McMahon, Ernest Price
Contact Email: admin@nccethics.org
 
Status: Active

Question:

          May a County employee who whrks as a clerk typist in theoffice of the Clerk of the Peace apply for and, if qualified, receive a grant administered by the Department of Community Services under the Emergency Home Repair Program?

Conclusion:

          There is no violation of the New Castle County Ethics Code for an employee who works as a clerk typist in the office of the Clerk of the Peace to apply for and, if qualified, receive a County administered home repair grant.

Facts:

          The requesting party is a county employee, a clerk typist in the office of the Clerk of the Peace, who wishes to apply for an emergency home repair grant under the Emergency Home Repair Program. The administraor of the program, the Department of Community Services, has determined that the empoloyee has made a valid request for repairs.
 
          The Emergency Home Repair Program provides grants for home repairs to persons living in owner occupied homes in certain areas of New Castle County. The purpose of the program is to address emergency home repair needs that focus on the health, safety and security conditions of lwower income residents. The program is federally funded by a Community Development Block Grant and sponsored by New Castle County. The program applicatin requires verification of detailed financial information, age, ownership, and insurance status. If a grant is received, the repairs are performed by county approved contractors who are monitored for compliance with the contracts governing the repairs. Prior to permitting county officials or employees to complete an application, the Department of Community Services has established a policy of referring the applicants to the Ethics Commission for Advisory Opinions affirming the absence of an ethics violation in applying for or receiving a grant.
 
          The Commission contacted the Department and determined that the requesting employee has a valid repair, has not had and will not have any involvemetn inmaking a decision on the application, and that the employee does not have any supervisory authority over any employee involved in the Emergency Home Repair Program.

Code or Prior Opinion:

          In Advisory Opinion 92-08 (December 4, 1992), the Ethics Commission ruled that the New Castle County Department of Community Development and Housing, the predecessor agency to the Department of Community Services, could grant a home rehabilitation loan to a homeowner who satisfies all the requirements of an established loan program, but who is employed by the County.

Analysis:

           The Commission finds that the facts presented in the instant request are similar to the facts presented in Advisory Opinion 92-08, with no distinguishing facts which would remove them from the scope of the earlier opinion.

Finding:

          Therefore, the Commission finds there would be no conflict of interest or appearance of impropriety and, accordingly, no violation of the Ethics Code if the requesting party were to apply for and, if determined qualified, to accept an Emergency Home Repair grant.
 
BY AND FOR THE NEW CASTLE COUNTY ETHICS COMMISSION ON SEPTEMBER 10, 2003.
 
__________________________________
Dennis S. Clower, Esq., Chairperson
 
Decision: Unanimous