March 17, 1997
Hon. Fran Knapp
5 Barnard Avenue
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
The staff of the Committee on Open Government is authorized to issue advisory opinions. The ensuing staff advisory opinion is based solely upon the information presented in your correspondence.
Dear Legislator Knapp:
I have received your letter of February 28 in which you requested an advisory opinion relating to the Open Meetings Law.
According to your letter, the Chairman of the Dutchess County Legislature scheduled a Committee of the Whole meeting for February 16 at 4 p.m. When providing notice, an agenda was included. However, at the meeting, the Chairman stated that an issue would be discussed that was not referenced on the "printed, published agenda." You objected, for "neither the legislature nor the public received any notice of this issue." You also suggested that the foregoing constituted a failure to comply with the Open Meetings Law.
In short, I respectively disagree with your contention. There is nothing in the Open Meetings Law that pertains to an agenda. Further, while the Law requires that notice of a meeting be given to the public and the news media, the notice must refer only to the time and place of the meeting; there is no requirement that the notice include reference to the subjects to be considered at a meeting. Specifically, §104 of the Open Meetings Law states in relevant part that:
"1. Public notice of the time and place of a meeting scheduled at least one week prior thereto shall be given to the news media and shall be conspicuously posted in one or more designated public locations at least seventy-two hours before each meeting.
2. Public notice of the time and place of every other meeting shall be given, to the extent practicable, to the news media and shall be conspicuously posted in one or more designated public locations at a reasonable time prior thereto."
I hope that the foregoing serves to enhance your understanding of the Open Meetings Law and that I have been of assistance.
Robert J. Freeman
cc: Chairman Klose