OML AO 5581

From: Freeman, Robert J (DOS)
Sent: Tuesday, May 01, 2018 9:11 AM
Subject: RE: A question regarding the Open Meetings law

Good morning ‐ ‐

Having reviewed §10‐1014 of the Village Law, I believe that a fire council constitutes a “public body” required to comply with the Open Meetings Law (OML).

Section 102(2) of the OML defines the phrase “public body” to mean “any entity, for which a quorum is required in order to conduct public business and which consists of two or more members, performing a governmental function for the state or for an agency or department thereof, or for a public corporation…” Based on §10‐1014, each of the ingredients necessary to find that a fire council is a public body is present.

That statute directs that a fire council consists of the “chief, the assistant chief and the wardens of the several companies” within a village; that a council “shall have all the powers and be subject to all the liabilities and perform all the duties of a separate board of fire commissioners….”, and that “A majority of members of such council shall
constitute a quorum, and may make and prescribe by‐laws for the proper management and affairs and the disposition of the funds of the fire department…” Further, it has been consistently advised that an entity that is a creation of law that has a specific membership and is required by law to carry out certain governmental functions is a “public body” subject to the OML.

In sum, in consideration of the both §10‐1014 of the Village Law and the definition of “public body” in the OML, it is clear in my opinion that a fire council is required to conduct its meetings in accordance with the latter.

I hope that I have been of assistance.

Robert Freeman, Executive Director NYS Committee on Open Government

cc: Croton Fire Council