EDGAR CO. (ECWd) -
This is an update from the Edgar County Board's December 3, 2012 "Organizational Meeting", a Special Meeting as defined in the Open Meetings Act (OMA) and the Counties Code of Illinois.
A complaint was filed in regards to this meeting alleging that it violated the OMA in that it was not noticed and posted properly. In hindsite, this was more a violation of the Counties Code than it was the OMA, although it also violated the OMA. The Counties Code, in relation to Special Meetings, has different requirements than the OMA. The County Board is required to follow both.
Website Publication of Meeting Agenda
But this AG opinion shines more light on what is required to be posted on the county website, which I am sure will be the subject of future articles. The AG contends, and we agree, that the County website is maintained by full-time employee(s) and therefore they are required to publish the agenda on that website. This accomplishes two things:
- If the agenda is on the website, it is considered available for 48 continuous hours prior to the meeting
- Website publication means the agenda need not be posted on the OUTSIDE of the meeting location and visible for 48 continuous hours prior to a meeting
This does, however, bring more questions into the mix; like does this also apply to all of the various advisory, committees, subcommittees and other bodies subordinate to the county? We believe it does, and the same goes for publication of meeting notices. Every county organization that holds public meetings should have this information posted on the county website. This includes Health Dept, Animal Control, Highway Dept, Airport, 708, Finance Committee, Solid Waste, and ALL of the others.
The AG Opinion
The AG's office delivered an opinion that stated the Edgar County Board violated Section 2.02(b) of the OMA by failing to publish the notice and agenda on their website.
The Counties Code
The Counties Code, when refering to Special County Board Meetings, has other requirements, mainly, publication in a newspaper:
(55 ILCS 5/2-1002)
(from Ch. 34, par. 2-1002)
Special meetings of the board shall be held only when requested by at least one-third of the members of the board, or when requested by the chairman of the board in counties where such chairman is elected by the voters of the county, which request shall be in writing, addressed to the clerk of the board, and specifying the time and place of such meeting, upon reception of which the clerk shall immediately transmit notice, in writing, of such meeting, to each of the members of the board. The clerk shall also cause notice of such meeting to be published in some newspaper printed in the county, if any there be. In case a vacancy arises in the office of clerk, because of death or other reason, then the request shall be addressed to the circuit clerk who shall perform the duties of the clerk pursuant to this Section.
(Source: P.A. 86-962.)
The AG did state that the Public Access Councelor lacked authority to resolve disputes of the Counties Code in relation to Open Meetings. They did not render an opinion on this portion of the complaint.