OML AO 5024


Sent: Monday, December 27, 2010 10:55 AM

Subject:    RE: Letters from Public and Public Record


I have received your inquiry concerning the obligation to honor a request by a member of the public that a letter be "included in the public record."  You wrote that the Town Supervisor asked that there be a motion to do so, and that the letter would be "inserted into the record" if there is an affirmative vote granting the request.

I believe that the Supervisor is correct.  There is no provision of law that requires that a request by a member of the public, or even that of a member of a town board, to have a statement included in the record be granted.  It is noted that §106 of the Open Meetings Law pertains to minutes of meetings.  The minutes are, in my view, the official record of the governing body, i.e., the Town Board.  Section 106 prescribes what may be characterized as minimum requirements concerning the contents of minutes.  At a minimum, the minutes must consist of a record or summary of motions, proposals, resolutions, action and taken, and the vote of the members.  While they may include additional detail, there is no requirement that they must.  Further, §30 of the Town Law specifies that the Town Clerk is responsible for the preparation of minutes. 

With specific regard to the issue, in my view, a request to have items or
statements included in the record, in other words, the minutes, can Require that a motion to do so be made.  If the motion is approved by a majority of the total membership of the Board, I believe that it must be included in the minutes.  If no such motion is made or carried, there is no obligation to do so.

I hope that the foregoing serves to clarify your understanding and that I have been of assistance.

Robert J. Freeman
Executive Director
Committee on Open Government
Department of State
One Commerce Plaza
Suite 650
99 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12231
Phone:  (518)474-2518
Fax: (518)474-1927