October 26, 2004
FROM: Robert J. Freeman, Executive Director
The staff of the Committee on Open Government is authorized to issue advisory opinions. The ensuing staff advisory opinion is based solely upon the facts presented in your correspondence.
As you know, I have received your letter concerning the Open Meetings Law as it may apply to meetings of a not-for-profit ambulance corporation.
In this regard, I am not an expert concerning the Not-for-Profit Corporation Law, and I cannot advise with respect to its application. However, depending on its nature, the meetings of the governing body of an ambulance company formed as a not-for-profit corporation may be subject to the Open Meetings Law.
That statute pertains to meetings of public bodies, and §102(2) of that statute defines the phrase "public body" to mean:
"...any entity for which a quorum is required in order to conduct public business and which consists of two or more members, performing a governmental function for the state or for an agency or department thereof, or for a public corporation as defined in section sixty-six of the general construction law, or committee or subcommittee or other similar body of such public body."
In general, the Open Meetings Law does not apply to meetings of the governing bodies of not-for-profit corporations. However, in construing its statutory counterpart, it was found by the state's highest court that a volunteer fire company is an "agency" required to comply with the Freedom of Information Law [see Westchester Rockland Newspapers v. Kimball, 50 NY2d 575 (1980)]. In addition, more recently it was determined that a volunteer ambulance corporation is also covered by the Freedom of Information Law when it performs its duties solely for an ambulance district and a town [see Ryan v. Mastic Volunteer Ambulance Corp., 622 NYS 2d 795, 212 AD 2d 716 (1995)]. If the ambulance company of your interest is similar in nature, I believe its board of directors would constitute a "public body" required to comply with the Open Meetings Law.
I hope that I have been of assistance.