From: Freeman, Robert (DOS)
Sent: Wednesday, August 20, 2008 3:40 PM
I have received your inquiry in which you asked whether a town board must “make a motion and take a roll call vote” in relation to certain actions.
In my view, the issue in great measure involves the powers and duties of a town board and whether certain action can only be taken by such a board. That issue does is not dealt with in or answered by the Open Meetings Law. However, in my experience, which includes the entire period in which the Open Meetings Law has been in effect, determinations to reprimand, suspend an employee with twenty years of service, or to initiate a proceeding under §75 of the Civil Service Law involve actions that can only be taken by a board during a meeting held in accordance with the Open Meetings Law. Releasing records contained within a personnel file, in my view, do not require board action.
When a board does take action, it is not required to do so by roll call vote. However, §87(3)(a) of the Freedom of Information Law has long required that a record be prepared that indicates the manner in which each member voted when action is taken by a public body, such as a town board. In most instances, the record of votes by members appears in the minutes of a meeting.
I hope that I have been of assistance.
Robert J. Freeman
Committee on Open Government
Department of State
One Commerce Plaza
99 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12231