AG: Fiscal court didn’t violate open meetings act

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By Shannon Brock

The Spencer County Fiscal Court did not violate open meeting laws by meeting on Sept. 5, 2012, but it did violate a Kentucky statute by not responding to a complaint regarding that meeting, according to an opinion issued by the Attorney General’s office on April 3.
The Fiscal Court met on the first Wednesday in September 2012 instead of the first Monday because the first Monday was Labor Day. This is a procedure set out in the county’s administrative code.
However, in a letter to Deputy Judge Karen Curtsinger, Spencer Countian Lawrence Trageser challenged that the meeting on Sept. 5 was a special meeting and claims the Fiscal Court violated the Open Meetings Act because it did not notify the media, post the meeting on any building entrances or provide a specific agenda.
County Attorney Ruth Hollan’s response to the Attorney General regarding Trageser’s appeal was that the court has adopted the following procedures for meetings:
“A. Regular meetings of the Fiscal Court may be held on first Monday of every month at 9:00 a.m., and the third Monday of every month at 7:00 p.m., at the designated place.
“B. Provided, however, that if the regular meeting day or date falls on a legal holiday, the meeting shall take place on the following Wednesday of the first Monday, or the following Tuesday of the third Monday at the same place and hour.
“C. All meetings of members of Fiscal Court at which any public business is discussed or any action taken shall be open to the public at all times except as otherwise permitted by KRS 61.810.
“D. The County Judge/Executive may call a special meeting of the Fiscal Court for the purpose of transacting any business over which the Fiscal Court has jurisdiction pursuant to and in accordance with KRS 67.100, the [sic] 24 hr. notice.”
Therefore, Assistant Attorney General Michelle D. Harrison states, “because that meeting was a regular meeting, rather than a special meeting, the Fiscal Court was not required to comply with [Kentucky Revised Statute] 61.823.”
According to the AG opinion, “Although Mr. Trageser expressly sought a response to his complaint, given that the Fiscal Court ‘has done nothing to change or implement corrective action in this matter’ despite being made aware of the alleged violations, he advised that he was going to file an Open Meetings Appeal.”
The Fiscal Court acknowledged that neither Curtsinger nor Judge-Executive Bill Karrer responded to Trageser’s letter, “as [Mr. Trageser] clearly stated in his [complaint] that he was filing an appeal with the Attorney General regardless of the response[.]”
However, Harrison writes, “This declaration by Mr. Trageser did not relieve the Fiscal Court of its procedural duties under the Act.”