New York State recently passed legislation that requires most government meetings to post agendas online in advance of those meetings and meeting minutes after the meeting . This affects all public town meetings. The idea behind this new law is that the public become more involved in public meetings. With MeetingKing towns can meet this requirement at zero cost.
In the past, the public has expressed discomfort at attending town meetings and being unable to get a sense of what is going on, due to the lack of a published agenda. The new law changes all of that. Agendas must be published online 24 hours in advance of a meeting and the meeting minutes must also be available within two weeks of the meeting. Documents relating to the meeting must be published alongside the minutes and agenda. Only in cases where documentation would be too expensive or time consuming to post, is an exception granted to this ruling. This new legislation also impacts board of education meetings, zoning board meetings and others. It affects any record, resolution, law or other matter to be discussed at an open meeting.
The consequences of not complying with this new law can be serious for government agencies. The public now has the right to sue bodies that do not meet these requirements. With already tight budgets, no government agency can afford to not take the required steps. This means that all town authorities need to be aware of how to create a town meeting agenda and how to make town meeting minutes.
MeetingKing is already one step ahead of the game in helping customers to comply with the requirements of this new law. When creating a new meeting in MeetingKing, users can choose between setting up a private and a public meeting. When “public meeting” is selected, the agenda will automatically be available online and all the town government has to do is post a link to the meeting agenda or minutes. This allows users to meet the requirements of the new law. The same functionality also applies to meeting minutes, providing MeetingKing customers with the chance to publish minutes online too.
- In addition to meeting the new legal requirements of publishing the agenda and minutes online, users of MeetingKing will also enjoy the other MeetingKing benefits such as:
- Easily capture and archive every aspect of a meeting.
- Automatically publishes and distributes professional meeting agendas, summaries, action items and more.
- One streamlined integrated solution from meeting preparation to task follow-up.
- Ability to take private and team notes and add comments before, during and after meetings.
- Dashboard offers a quick overview of what needs to be done.
- Action items are automatically added to new agendas.
- Combine information from different meetings by using tags.
- No forced adoption; already effective if only meeting organizer has an account.
The law provides greater transparency and accountability of public bodies. That everyone can read the town meeting agenda before the meeting also gives the public a greater chance to prepare relevant input for that meeting, driving a greater level of involvement in the local community in town meetings. It is hoped that the new regulations will deliver a change in behavior in local government, where in the past the assumption has sometimes been that the public do not have that much interest in what is going on in town meetings. This new law cuts down on barriers to attendance for the public.