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Thursday, June 8, 2017

PAC Finds City Council in Violation of OMA for Closed Session

In its 4th binding opinion of 2017, the PAC found a municipality in violation of the Open Meetings Act for improperly discussing an intergovernmental agreement in closed session.  PAC Op. 17-004.

A city council had gone into closed session at one of its meetings to discuss an intergovernmental agreement with an adjacent municipality. The agreement would provide for the sharing of revenues and expenditures in a designated commercial and industrial area adjacent to both communities. The county states attorney filed a request for review with the PAC questioning whether the city council's reliance on the "pending or probable" litigation exception was appropriate. 

The PAC determined that the evidence did not support the city council's use of the litigation exception. Specifically, the PAC noted that the newspaper had reported that no lawsuit was pending and that the mayor had stated that that he did not expect a lawsuit to be filed. Citing an Attorney General's opinion from 1983, the PAC concluded that the city council did not have reasonable grounds to believe a lawsuit was more likely than not to be instituted or was "close at hand." Although the city council had complied with the OMA requirement of citing the exception and entering into the closed session minutes a specific basis for a finding that litigation was probable, the PAC nonetheless found the basis insufficient to justify the closed session and found the city council in violation of the OMA.

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf 


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