Opinion 93-10

This opinion represents the views of the Office of the State Comptroller at the time it was rendered. The opinion may no longer represent those views if, among other things, there have been subsequent court cases or statutory amendments that bear on the issues discussed in the opinion.

COUNTIES -- Powers and Duties (designating holidays for closing of county offices)

LOCAL LAWS -- Public Holidays (determining day to celebrate)

COUNTY LAW, §206-a; GENERAL CONSTRUCTION LAW, §24; MUNICIPAL HOME RULE LAW, §10(1)(ii)(a)(3): A non-charter county must keep its offices open on the day after Thanksgiving and may not adopt a local law authorizing the closing of county offices on such day. Although the determination of the particular personnel to be present on that day is, in the first instance, to be made at local level, subject to terms and conditions of any collective bargaining agreement, it would appear that sufficient staff must be available to reasonably permit the transaction of ordinary business at county offices.

You ask whether the offices of a non-charter county are required to be kept open for the transaction of business on the Friday immediately following Thanksgiving and, if so, what particular support staff is required to report to work on that day. You also ask whether the governing board of the county may enact a local law pursuant to Municipal Home Rule Law, §10 providing for the closing of particular county offices on that day.

County Law, §206-a(1) provides, in part, that on all days except Sundays, county offices shall be kept open for the transaction of business. That subdivision further provides that, notwithstanding any general or special law, holidays and Saturdays shall be considered as Sunday for this purpose (see also Public Officers Law, §62; cf County Law, §206[3], authorizing certain offices to close on the day before a holiday which falls on a Saturday).

General Construction Law, §24, which defines the term "public holiday", provides that "[t]he term public holiday includes ... the fourth Thursday in November, known as Thanksgiving day". Section 24 does not, however, list the day after Thanksgiving as a holiday. The word "holiday", as used in County Law, §206-a, includes only those public holidays enumerated in section 24 (see General Construction Law, §110; 1985 Opns St Comp No. 85-33, p 47; 1983 Opns St Comp No. 83-193, p 245; 1979 Opns St Comp No. 79-77, unreported). Therefore, pursuant to County Law, §206-a, the county must keep its offices open on the day after Thanksgiving (see also 1993 Atty Gen [Inf Opns] No. I93-4).

With respect to whether a county may adopt a local law pursuant to Municipal Home Rule Law, §10 authorizing the closing of a county office on that day, we note that counties may adopt local laws not inconsistent with any general law or the constitution relating to, among other things, its property, affairs or government and, whether or not it relates to property, affairs or government, to the transaction of its business (Municipal Home Rule Law, §10[1],[i],[ii],[a][3]). A "general law" is defined, in pertinent part, as a state statute which in terms and in effect applies alike to all counties (Municipal Home Rule Law, §2[5]; NY Const, art IX, §3). General Construction Law, §24 and County Law, §206-a are general laws as they apply to counties (see 1991 Opns St Comp No. 91-27, p 79; 1990 Opns St Comp No. 90-31, p 73). A local law providing either that the day after Thanksgiving is a holiday or that county offices need not be kept open on that day would be inconsistent with the provisions of those statutes (see Opn No. 83-193, supra). Accordingly, a county may not, by local law adopted pursuant to Municipal Home Rule Law, §10, authorize the closing of county offices on the day after Thanksgiving.

With respect to what particular personnel must be present on the day after Thanksgiving, we believe that is a matter, in the first instance, to be determined at the local level, subject, of course, to the terms and conditions of any collective bargaining agreements (cf. Westchester County v Westchester County CSEA, 85 Misc 2d 251, 378 NYS2d 952). We note, however, that County Law, §206-a requires that county offices be kept open "for the transaction of business ..." Thus, it would appear that county officials are obligated to ensure that sufficient staff is available to reasonably permit ordinary business to be transacted at county offices.

March 11, 1993
Alan O. Minsker, Esq., County Attorney
County of Cattaraugus