FORMAL VS. INFORMALSupervisor wants opinion on recording board minutes

Published 11:33 am Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Warren County supervisor wants a state decision on whether minutes should be recorded at informal meetings of the Board of Supervisors where no formal votes are recorded.

District 1’s John Arnold asked board attorney Marcie Southerland to contact the Mississippi Ethics Commission after the topic of proper open meetings procedure came up at a county government workshop Oct. 8-10 in Tupelo. Arnold and Board President Bill Lauderdale attended the conference, sponsored by the Mississippi Association of Supervisors.

“I just want to make sure we understand what to do,” Arnold said Tuesday.

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No formal query had been sent to the commission and won’t until an initial email is returned, Southerland said later in the day.

Minutes are taken to reflect votes cast during the board’s formal meetings, held on the first and third Monday of each month. These meetings are held in the board room at Warren County Courthouse. The informal meetings, usually held on the second and fourth Mondays in the conference room at supervisors’ Jackson Street offices, are announced publicly and involve topics to be hashed out before a formal vote is taken.

Minutes of all meetings of public bodies, whether in open or closed session or those conducted via teleconference, must be kept to show final actions taken at those meetings, according to state law. The law on minutes does not distinguish between formal and informal meetings.

The eight-member ethics board issues advisory opinions which do not carry the force of law.