Q&A: Exact time for public meeting

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From The Daily Reporter (Greenfield):

Q: The Hancock County Board of Commissioners normally meets at 8 a.m. every Tuesday. Next Tuesday, however, they have called an executive session for 8 a.m. to discuss a personnel matter.

The county attorney says the commissioners may come out of executive session and vote on the personnel issue immediately after the executive session, but he doesn’t say when that will be.

The attorney says because commissioners are regularly scheduled to meet every Tuesday morning, they can simply come into an open meeting at any point and make a decision. Can commissioners do this, or do they need to set an exact time for an open meeting? 

A: The Indiana public access counselor issued an opinion in 1998 that said county commissioners are subject to the Open Door Law provisions to give notice of meetings (other than administrative function gatherings) and cannot claim they are in continuous session to avoid the law’s notice requirement.

I believe that if they are going to take a final action on a personnel matter, the public has a right to attend that meeting, which they reasonably can’t do if there isn’t a specific start time for the public meeting.

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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