Q&A: Economic development organization

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From the Kokomo Tribune:

Q: Tipton County elected officials appointed six people to serve on a new economic development organization. The group is primarily funded through tax dollars.

The public access counselor indicated that since elected officials appointed the board members any meeting would fall under the Open Door Law.

An attorney for the group said the law didn’t cover it because the organization isn’t subject to audit by the state Board of Accounts. Should the group have to comply with the requirements of the law?  

A: The answer hinges on whether the organization falls under the scope of the law.

Apparently Public Access Counselor Joseph Hoage believes it does, but his opinion doesn’t require the entity to comply with his position.

The organization’s attorney apparently believes it falls outside the Open Door Law, and organization members are relying on that opinion rather than the access counselor’s view.

That’s the way it will stay unless someone wants to take the organization to court seeking a declaratory judgment as to its status.

If someone wanted to take that step, he should first get a public access counselor opinion so if he prevails he can get reimbursed for reasonable attorney fees and court costs.

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

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