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Changes to Open Meetings Law aim to make board documents more accessible to public

The state's Open Meetings Law has a new provision requiring municipal boards to make available any document they may be discussing prior to the meeting. The law also requires municipalities to post the documents, such as resolutions, site plan proposals and budgets, on their website, should they have a functioning website.

The state's Open Meetings Law has a new provision requiring municipal boards to make available any document they may be discussing prior to the meeting. The law also requires municipalities to post the documents, such as resolutions, site plan proposals and budgets, on their website, should they have a functioning website.

— A provision in the state’s open meetings law aims to help the public understand what’s going on at board meetings.

The newest portion of the law requires boards to make available any document they may be discussing prior to the meeting. The law also requires municipalities to post the documents, such as resolutions, site plan proposals and budgets, on their website, should they have a functioning website.

“This new provision will have an immense impact over time,” said Bob Freeman, executive director of the state’s Committee on Open Government. “This new amendment provides real transparency. No longer will people sit in the second row at a board meeting and wonder what the board is discussing when a reference is made to the third paragraph on page two. That document will be made available to the public prior to the meeting. This is the most significant change we’ve seen in three decades.”

Local municipalities are still working to put the law into effect — documents are available, and plans are being made to post that information on the website. Syracuse has been posting the documents associated with the common council well before the law was put into effect, said John Copanas, city clerk. check his name.

The same is true in the town of Cicero, where town clerk Tracy Cosilmon has long been posting materials on the town website so that residents could access them.

“We’ve always tried to put as much information as possible on our web site,” Cosilmon said. “We have our master plan available there, the Zoning Board of Appeals agenda, even the unapproved minutes from the board meetings. I put up our union contracts, contracts and agreements – I really try to put everything on the web site so it’s easily accessible to people.”

Cosilmon said the new provision in the law didn’t invite a lot of changes to town policy.

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