The Illinois Public Access Counselor (PAC) just issued its first binding opinion of 2020. In PAC 20-001, the PAC found a public body in violation of the Open Meetings Act for failing to approve its meeting minutes in the time limits required by that statute. The public body had scheduled approval of its meeting minutes from 3 meetings in September at its November 12, 2019 meeting.
A request for review was filed with the PAC claiming that the meeting minutes were not approved in the time period required by state statute. The PAC first noted that section 2.06(b) of the OMA requires approval of open session meeting minutes “within 30 days after that meeting or at the public body’s second subsequent regular meeting, whichever is later.” The public body filed a response with the PAC acknowledging that the minutes were not timely approved but that staff shortages and an increase in the number of meetings had created a backlog. The PAC found no exception in the OMA that would authorize any delay in approving meeting minutes. As a result, the PAC found the public body in violation of the OMA and directed it to develop a protocol to comply with the OMA.
This is a good reminder to all public bodies to make sure you regularly schedule the approval of your meeting minutes within the statutory time-frame.