Taxpayers Do Not Have Standing To Challenge Compensation Paid To Police Chief

A group of taxpayers brought a lawsuit to void employment contracts between the Town of Stony Point, New York and its past and present Police Chiefs. The taxpayers alleged that the contracts provided excessive compensation. The taxpayers argued that the Town violated the New York State Constitution, the Municipal Home Rule Law, and the Open Meetings Law by approving the contracts after a secret executive session, by adopting a resolution rather than by passing an ordinance.

A New York appellate court dismissed the lawsuit on the basis that the taxpayers did not have “standing” to bring the claim. To have standing, an individual must show that he or she will suffer an injury that is distinct from that of the general public. As the Court reasoned, “a private citizen who does not show any special rights or interests in the matter in controversy, other than those common to all taxpayers and citizens, has no standing to sue. It cannot be said that the taxpayers have a special right or interest in the Police Chiefs’ employment contracts that is different than that of all taxpayers in the Town of Stony Point.”

Concerned Taxpayers of Stony Point v. Town of Stony Point, 813 N.Y.S.2d 227 (A.D. 2006).

This article appears in the August 2006 issue