Q&A: Training session can be closed


From the New Palestine Press:

Q: The town of New Palestine is holding a training session with its lawyer and a few county officials to discuss tax abatement. The town council is having the session to learn about tax abatement, which they are considering for a development. I asked them if I could sit in on the meeting, but they said no. Shouldn’t this session be open to the public?

A: It appears they are calling this an “orientation of members of the governing body on their role and responsibilities as public officials.” This is an exception in the definition of a meeting found at IC 5-14-1.5-2(c)(6).

It would be acceptable to keep the public out of this meeting under the Open Door Law, although they could choose to let you attend. (They may be concerned that members won’t be as open to ask questions because they don’t want to appear stupid in a story written by a reporter covering this educational session.)

Hopefully, the town attorney understands that the exception specifically says the orientation is “not for any other official action.”

This means they can learn how the tax abatement process works and about their role in the approval process, but they should not discuss details of a project concerning a specific company. That would go beyond an orientation.

Contact Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, with media law questions at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.