HAZARD – The Perry County Fiscal Court violated the state open meetings law when it failed to properly notice and record the minutes of a meeting on March 21, according to an opinion issued this week by the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office.
Lost Creek resident Lloyd Engle filed a complaint with the county attorney’s office after the fiscal court met for its regular meeting at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, March 21. The court had planned that day to speak with an engineer about county water projects, but when the engineer wasn’t available in the morning, the court’s members decided to meet again later that afternoon at 1:30 p.m.
That later meeting, Engle claimed in his complaint, was illegal because the fiscal court failed to give notice as required by a state statute that governs meetings of public agencies. Perry County Judge-Executive Denny Ray Noble responded, and denied that any violation took place because the second meeting was announced to the public during the court’s regular meeting at 10 a.m. on March 21.
Engle appealed to the attorney general’s office, which in an opinion dated April 16, agreed with Engle’s assertion that the second meeting was a violation because, in part, it was not properly noticed. Though the court announced during its regular meeting that they would meet again that day, once the regular meeting was adjourned the second one should have been treated as a special meeting. In that instance, written notice must be given at least 24 hours ahead of time as required by law.
“If the fiscal court received word of the engineers’ unavailability too late to comply with these provisions,” the AG’s opinion reads, “it was obligated to postpone the discussion of the water line project until it could comply or until its next meeting.”
Additionally, the court violated state law, the AG’s office claims, because no minutes of that second meeting were recorded. According to statute, any time a quorum of members of a public agency is present, that constitutes a public meeting and the minutes should be recorded. Even if no action took place during the meeting, the minutes should reflect that there was a quorum present and the meeting was called to order and adjourned.
The fiscal court can appeal the AG’s opinion in Perry Circuit Court.