GAINESVILLE - A Hall County Commissioner Thursday night responded to published report accusations that the Commission is violating state open meetings Laws.
Commissioner Craig Lutz cited a story last Sunday in the Gainesville Times which reported several items brought up by commissioners got a vote without appearing on a published agenda or during a non-voting work session.
Lutz read state law, a portion of which he said does make exceptions.
"Failure to include on the agenda an item which becomes necessary during the course of a meeting shall not preclude considering or acting on such item," Lutz said, and he repeated that portion of the code section for emphasis.
Lutz was reading from O.C.GA 50-14-1 (e) which does provide for agendas prior to public meetings on 'all matters expected to come before the agency or committee' at the meeting. The law states agendas shall be available on request and posted at meeting sites in advance as much as possible but sometime within two weeks prior to the meeting.
Lutz went on to say that while most of the items commissioners bring up during commission time at voting meetings are items of public interest,he added "there are times when as commissioners we need to instruct our staff to take some action".
Commission staff usually presents agenda items at non-voting work sessions, not the commissioners, and Lutz argued that the items the Times cited were items the commission had instructed the staff to study and prepare for a formal agenda at a future meeting.
Lutz pointed out that the Commission could have directed the staff by consensus or a poll, but chose to make its instructions a matter of record.
"If you think about it," he added, "with five commissioners and various opinions, if we all tried to direct staff individually, we would end up with a very inefficient organization, pulling our staff in all directions."
Lutz concluded by saying that if the 'legal organ' feels that they need to file an open records violation law suit against the County, "they are more than welcome to send an intent to sue letter to us. Of course if they do, then everything becomes attorney client privilege."
The Commission unanimously approved Lutz's response.