September 28, 2005



FROM: Robert J. Freeman, Executive Director

The staff of the Committee on Open Government is authorized to issue advisory opinions. The ensuing staff advisory opinion is based solely upon the facts presented in your correspondence.


As you are aware, I have received your inquiry. Please accept my apologies for the delay in response. You have asked whether a town board is "permitted to conduct discussions pertaining to a municipal services agreement with a not-for-profit organization in executive session." You added that the "discussions center around payment for police, fire and related government services."

Although it seems unlikely that there would be a basis for entry into executive session, I offer the following comments.

First, the Open Meetings Law requires that meetings of public bodies must be conducted open to the public, unless there is a basis for entry into an executive session. The subjects that may properly be considered in executive session are specified in paragraphs (a) through (h) of §105(1) of the Open Meetings Law. Because those subjects are limited, a public body cannot conduct an executive session to discuss the subject of its choice.

Second, although certain "contractual negotiations" may be conducted or discussed in executive session, not all such negotiations fall within the grounds for entry into executive session. The only provision that pertains specifically to negotiations, §105(1)(e), deals with collective bargaining negotiations between a public employer and a public employee union under Article 14 of the Civil Service Law, which is commonly known as the Taylor Law. That provision appears to be inapplicable in the context of the situation that you described.

The remaining ground for entry into executive session that may be pertinent, §105(1)(f), authorizes a public body to enter into executive session to discuss:

"the medical, financial, credit or employment history of a particular person or corporation, or matters leading to the appointment, employment, promotion, demotion, discipline, suspension, dismissal or removal of a particular person or corporation..."

Based on your description of the matter, it does not appear that the decision would focus on any particular person. If the discussion involves the financial history of the not-for-profit entity or matters leading to its appointment or employment by the town, to that extent, an executive session could, in my view, properly be held. If those topics are not the subjects of the discussion, again, it does not appear that there would be a basis for entry into executive session.

I hope that I have been of assistance.