Attorney General: Milledgeville City Council violated open meetings act
Acting Milledgeville Mayor Jeanette Walden tells 41NBC city council received the letter from the state’s office late Thursday.
The Attorney General’s Office alleges a quorum of council members discussed city business after a meeting adjourned on March 3, 2014.
The state office also accuses city council of going into closed sessions to talk about matters intended for public discussion. The letter cited examples including discussing the ethics complaints filed against council and amendments to the city’s ethics ordinance. It also alleges council talked about contract issues with the county, including SPLOST issues, water and sewer matters, and issues relating to the Shaw building that didn’t deal with the sale lease or disposition of the property during an executive session.
The Attorney General’s Office claims Milledgeville City Council doesn’t adequately notify the public of topics of discussions for upcoming meetings. It adds the city clerk presents topics to be voted on only one hour before a called meeting, which doesn’t give the public enough notice.
The letter goes on to say Milledgeville City Council should admit to the claims. It also says council must pledge to conduct all future meetings in open session, except what is allowed to be discussed in closed session, and provide the public at least 48 hours notice of what will be discussed at those meetings.
The state office is also requesting Milledgeville City Council participate in an Open Records and Open Meetings training session and pay a voluntary fine of $3,500. Any future violations within the next year could result in a fine of up to $2,500.
The Attorney General’s Office tells 41NBC this is just a draft. City council has the opportunity to negotiate with the state office before voting on it.
Walden tells 41NBC she spoke to the city manager and plans to hold a called meeting soon to discuss the letter and give a response. Walden adds city council always checked with the city attorney before going into a closed session and believes their meetings are within the open meetings act.