The Elbert County Board of County Commissioners reached an agreement on policies regarding public notification and posting policies for meetings as they pertain Colorado's open meetings and open records laws — also known as the “sunshine statutes.”
The new policy also establishes a procedure for electronic notifications for public meetings and designates bulletin boards on the first and second floors of the County Administration Building (the old county courthouse) as the official posting place for all meeting notices and agendas.
In addition to its regularly scheduled BOCC meetings held on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month, the county will formally post notices and agendas for meetings designated as work/study sessions and employee supervision/staff administration meetings.
Members of the BOCC conduct the work sessions as needed to discuss issues, and receive updates from county staff or advisory committees. The employee supervision meetings are also scheduled as needed to address the day-to-day oversight of property or supervision of employees.
Neither the work sessions nor the employee meetings are considered public hearings, and though the public is invited to observe, there are no provisions for public comment. Public policies, regulations or resolutions may not be adopted during study sessions or at employee supervision meetings.
The county will continue to post meeting notices on the calendar page of its website, but due to possible Internet disruptions — such as the one the county experienced when a broken water main flooded the basement of the administration building last summer, crippling the county's telecommunications networks — the BOCC did not designate electronic notification as the official posting place.
“The Internet is not always as reliable as a paper posting,” County Attorney Wade Gateley said. “It can't go down and it's not subject to interruption.”
In the same vote, the BOCC unanimously adopted an email notification policy. Anyone wanting to receive email notices of public meetings may fill out and sign a request at the County Administration Building or download the form from the county's website and submit it electronically via email or fax. Requests must be resubmitted every two years.
The BOCC began addressing its notification policy in late December 2014 following allegations from Planning Commission member Rick Brown and other members of the public who asserted that the BOCC was not properly posting notices and agendas for meetings.
The issue came to a head when Commissioner Larry Ross, District 3, chose not to attend a work session on Jan. 5, because he felt that the public had not been adequately notified of the meeting.
Brown, who addressed the BOCC during public comment and spoke afterward, said that he found the new policy acceptable, but he would have preferred that language that might allow for future loopholes be removed and that the policy address contingencies for Internet outages more specifically.