September 28, 2005
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 are aware, I have received your letter. Please accept my apologies for the delay in response. Your inquiry pertains to a "meeting time change without public notice."
According to your letter, the Sloatsburg Village Board of Trustees conducts its regular meetings beginning at 7:30 PM. However, a recent meeting was preceded by a notice posted at 2 p.m. on the day of the meeting indicating that the meeting would begin at 7 PM. You have asked whether the Board was required to have given a "Legal Notice of the change of time from their Regular Meetings starts of 7:30 PM."
In this regard, §104 of the Open Meetings Law pertains to notice of meetings of public bodies, such as village boards of trustees, and states 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."
Subdivision (3) specifies that a public body is not required to provide a "legal notice" prior to its meetings. Stated differently, a public body is not required to expend public money to place a legal notice in a newspaper.
Nevertheless, subdivision (1) §104 specifies that 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, subdivision (2) requires that 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 some circumstances, public bodies have given notice to the news media, and the newspapers or radio stations in receipt of the notices have chosen not to print or publicize the meetings to which the notices relate. In those cases, despite the failure of a notice to be publicized, a public body would have complied with law.
I hope that I have been of assistance.
cc: Board of Trustees