Public Access Opinion 22-008

Taking Final Action on Matter Not Sufficiently Identified on Meeting Agenda

Open Meetings Act - OMA
Case: Public Access Opinion 22-008
Date: Thursday, June 30, 2022

On April 13, 2022, Requestor submitted a Request for Review to the Public Access Counselor (PAC) complaining that the Shelby County Board Farm Committee (Committee) had violated OMA by voting on two items – hiring an individual to buy crop insurance and borrowing $7,500 for crop expenses – even though these items were not listed on the agenda for its April 7, 2022 meeting. The Committee asserted that it had provided sufficient advanced notice of these actions because they were “germane” to a matter listed on its agenda as “Discussion and vote on recommendation to the County Board regarding farming options for the County Farm.”

Section 2.02(c) of OMA requires that a public body’s posted agenda “set forth the general subject matter of any resolution or ordinance that will be the subject of final action at the meeting.” The PAC noted that the Illinois Supreme Court indicated, in Bd. of Educ. of Springfield Sch. Dist. No. 186 v. Atty Gen. of Ill., that Section 2.02(c) requires a public body’s agenda to include sufficient detail to notify members of the public of the types of final actions that public bodies anticipate taking. Taken together, the PAC found this to mean that the general subject matter of the Committee’s final actions were to recommend that the County Board (1) borrow money for crop expenses, and (2) attain crop insurance. Because the Committee’s agenda did not contain agenda items identifying these as general subject matters of its final actions, the PAC held that the Committee violated Section 2.02(c) of OMA. The PAC directed the Committee to include the general subject matter of its anticipated final actions on its agenda for future meetings.

This opinion is binding only to the parties involved and may be appealed pursuant to State law.