|2. Public Notice
|Vermonts open meeting law defines the basics of
public notice. Other laws provide more specific directions, but every board must follow
the requirements of the law as a minimum. There are three kinds of public meetings under
Regular Meeting. The most common type of
meeting is the regular meeting. When a board meets on the first Tuesday of the month,
every month, the law does not require formal public notice. The board needs to adopt a
resolution specifying its regular meeting schedule in this instance, and provide an agenda
on request, to qualify for this privilege. 1 V.S.A. § 312(c )(1).
of regularly scheduled meetings must be made available, upon specific request, prior to
meeting, so that interested members of the public can be reasonably informed of what will
be discussed at the meeting. 1 V.S.A. § 312(d). Boards should not take action
on matters that did not appear on the agenda since such action would violate the purpose
of the open meeting law. However, courts have not yet considered whether this
is a breach of the law.
|Special Meeting. A special meeting is called for
some other time than the regular meeting date. In such meetings, the board usually has a
more limited agenda. Public notice for special meetings requires a minimum of three public
postings of the notice (one at the Town Clerks office), as well as notice to each
member of the board at least 24 hours before the meeting is to begin. The agenda must be
made available, and notice must also be given to the local news media and any other media
that has specifically requested notice. 1 V.S.A. §§ 312(c )(2), 310(4).
Emergency Meetings are those called to respond to what the law calls
"an unforeseen occurrence or condition requiring immediate attention by the public
body." 1 V.S.A. § 312(c)(3). These are the rarest of meetings. Frankly, when the
town hall is on fire, nobody expects the selectboard to respect the formalities of the
open meeting law before calling for help. The law exempts a board from formal posted
public notice for emergency meetings, but requires that some notice be given.
Emergency meetings should never be used as a substitute for a poorly warned special
meeting. 1 V.S.A. § 312(c )(3).
Meetings. When a meeting is "adjourned," or continued to a new time and/or
place, the meeting will not be considered a new meeting (and not require additional
notice) so long as the time and place of the new meeting is announced before the first
meeting is closed. 1 V.S.A. § 312(c)(4).
Meetings. A meeting occurs whenever a majority of the members of a public body are
together talking about the business of the board. 1 V.S.A. § 310. This means that, for
example, when a majority of a board find themselves at a social gathering together, it is
important not to discuss the business of the public body.
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