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Attorney General Kathy Jennings

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  Archived Posts From: 2005


05-IB29: REP: F.O.I.A. Complaint Against Town of Cheswold

Written on: October 13th, 2005 in 10001 Declaration of Policy

Complainants allege that the Town Council violated FOIA open meeting and public records requirements by not: (1) timely posting public notice of a meeting; (2) ensuing the venue for the meeting of the Council was large enough to accommodate the public; (3) the Town Council met in executive session on for purposes not authorized by law; (4) the Town Council reached a consensus on matters of public business in executive session before voting on those matters in public without any further discussion; (5) the Town did not prepare and maintain minutes a meeting; and (6) the Town did not provide a requester with access to the minutes of prior Council meetings. Held: the Town did not violate FOIA in that it (1) posted timely public notice of a meeting held on July 7, 2005; (2) provided the public with reasonable access to attend the meeting; (3) prepared and maintained minutes of the meeting; and (4) provided reasonable access to minutes of previous meetings of the Town Council. However, the Town did violate FOIA by privately discussing the 2005-2006 budget prior to the meeting and then approving the budget without any discussion in public thereby depriving the public of the opportunity for the public to monitor and observe the budget approval process. The Town also failed to meet its burden of proof that it did not discuss two other matters of public business (code enforcement and real estate taxes), neither of which matters FOIA authorized for private discussion.

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