P & S Grain v. Williamson County, ----, (Ill.App. 5th, 9/2014).

Open Meetings Act (OMA) Duty to Inform the Public of the Nature of the Business under Consideration Prior to Taking Final Action

Open Meetings Act - OMA
Case: P & S Grain v. Williamson County, ----, (Ill.App. 5th, 9/2014).
Date: Friday, September 26, 2014

Here, plaintiffs alleged that a county board passed a sales tax in violation of the Open Meetings Act (OMA). The appellate court agreed with the lower court’s holdings. First, the OMA complaints by members of the public must be filed within 60 days after the alleged violation by the public body, although States Attorneys have a bit more time (60 days from their “discovery” of a violation). Second, the county’s meeting agenda titled “Superintendent of Schools Resolutions” was specific enough to notify the public that the county board planned to vote on imposing a sales tax.

For thought, see PAO 14-001, where the Ill. Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor (PAC) issued a binding opinion about another public body’s posted agenda item and its action upon that agenda item. There, the PAC held that despite the agenda item being posted, along with a readily available document online, the public body should have also provided a “verbal explanation of the significance of [the public body’s] action to members of the public who are present at the meeting before it can proceed to consider taking action” (that PAO is currently on appeal and is only binding to the parties involved).

For help with ensuring agenda items are sufficient under OMA, contact the school board’s local counsel.