In binding PAC Opinion 22-008, the PAC found a Farm Committee (Committee) of a County Board (Board) in violation of the OMA when it voted on two resolutions without adequately describing the actio items on the Committee’s meeting agenda.

In April 2022, an individual submitted a request for review with the PAC, alleging that the Committee violated the OMA by voting to approve two resolutions to (1) hire a person to obtain crop insurance and (2) borrow money for crop expenses without listing either item on the Committee’s April 7, 2022 meeting agenda. In response to the PAC, the Committee asserted that item 3 of its April 7, 2022 meeting agenda, which stated “[d]iscussion and vote on recommendation to the County Board regarding farming options for the County Farm,” provided sufficient advance notice of its final actions.

The PAC concluded that the Committee violated section 2.02(c) of the OMA by taking final action on the two resolutions without describing the general subject matter of those actions on the April 7, 2022 meeting agenda. Although the PAC acknowledged that the term general subject matter is inherently ambiguous and has not been “precisely” defined by the OMA or Illinois courts, the PAC stated that section 2.02(c) requires that a public body’s agenda include sufficient detail to notify members of the public about the types of final actions a public body anticipates taking. Here, the Committee took final action by recommending that the Board (1) attain crop insurance and (2) borrow money for crop expenses, but the PAC found that the agenda for the Committee’s meeting failed to list the general subject matter of either of those action items.

The Committee argued that even if it violated the OMA at its April 7, 2022 meeting, the Board cured its violation by considering and voting on the Committee’s recommendations at its April 14, 2022 meeting. In response, the PAC rejected this argument, reasoning that because the Committee and the Board are separate public bodies for the purpose of complying with OMA requirements, the Board’s actions at its April 14, 2022 meeting did not cure the Committee’s violation of OMA at its April 7, 2022 meeting. That being said, because the Board already considered and voted on the Committee’s recommendations, the PAC did not see a legal or practical reason for the Committee to prepare a new agenda and re-vote on its final actions.

Post Authored by Eugene Bolotnikov, Ancel Glink