Tuesday, August 30th, 2011
Committee addressing ways to post public notification of council meetings
By Amy Kronenberger
ST. MARYS - City council's streets and sidewalks committee on Monday agreed to ask full council to expand public notification of council meetings under the recommendation of the law director.
The committee met after residents complained the city's current method - posting a notification on the bulletin board in the municipal building lobby - was not enough. Council chose the streets and sidewalks committee to discuss the issue because it has no communication committee.
Residents Bob Valentine and Kumar Sivagnanam have asked that city officials to post meeting times on the city's website and in newspapers. Law director Kraig Noble said to be legal, council would have to vote to change the ordinance that says meeting notices will be posted on the bulletin board.
Ohio Sunshine Laws say public bodies must adopt rules establishing a method for notification of public meetings.
During the Aug. 22 council meeting, councilman Patrick McGowan made a motion to change the codified ordinance to include newspapers and the city's website. Robin Willoughby seconded the motion, but council did not bring it to a vote.
"The problem is, not everyone can check the bulletin board, not everyone reads the paper or has a computer, so we need to broaden the scope," McGowan said during last week's meeting.
Instead of changing the ordinance, Noble suggested the city post information on its website as a courtesy but include a disclaimer. Posting in two areas doubles the chances of a mistake, he said.
Noble recommended a disclaimer that said the website notification is not the legal method as authorized by the city's ordinance. The only legal method will remain the city hall bulletin board.
"Such notices take precedence over any notice on this website," Noble wrote as part of the disclaimer. "For final confirmation of any particular meeting, check the bulletin board ... or call city hall at 419-394-3303."
Committee members Dennis Vossler, Robin Willoughby and Billy Slemmons on Monday agreed with Noble's recommendation and will present it to council at the next regular meeting on Sept. 12.