December 18, 2006
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 information presented in your correspondence.
I have received your letter in which you referred to notice of regularly scheduled meetings and asked whether “a public notice [should] go in the paper each month and a conspicuous place publicly for each meeting.”
In this regard, the Open Meetings Law requires that notice be given to the news media and posted prior to every meeting. Specifically, §104 of that statute provides 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.
3. The public notice provided for by this section shall not be construed to require publication as a legal notice."
Stated differently, if a meeting is scheduled at least a week in advance, notice of the time and place must be given to the news media and to the public by means of posting in one or more designated public locations, not less than seventy-two hours prior to the meeting. If a meeting is scheduled less than a week an advance, again, notice of the time and place must be given to the news media and posted in the same manner as described above, "to the extent practicable", at a reasonable time prior to the meeting. Therefore, if, for example, there is a need to convene quickly, the notice requirements can generally be met by telephoning the local news media and by posting notice in one or more designated locations.
In the context of your inquiry, if a series of meetings have been scheduled in advance to be held at particular times, the posting of a notice of a schedule of those meetings in a conspicuous public location and transmittal of that notice once to the news media would in my view satisfy §104 of the Open Meetings Law regarding those meetings. The only instances in which additional notice would be required would involve unscheduled meetings that are not referenced in the notice.
Therefore, if, for instance, a public body establishes at its organizational meeting that formal meetings will be held on the second Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. in the town hall, and if notice containing that information is posted continuously and transmitted once to the local news media, I believe that the board would satisfy the notice requirements imposed by the Open Meetings Law. Again, the only additional notice would involve unscheduled meetings. I point out, too, that although notice of meetings must be given to the news media, there is no requirement that the news media print or publicize that a meeting will be held.
I hope that I have been of assistance.