OPEN MEETINGS ACT UPDATE ... Discussion of Duties/Salaries of Elected Officials in Closed Session
The Public Access Counselor recently issued a binding opinion that public bodies may not use what is commonly referred to as the “personnel exemption” in the Open Meetings Act to enter into executive session or a closed meeting for the purposes of discussing salaries of elected officials.
In Public Access Opinion 18-015, issued by the Office of the Attorney General on October 30, 2018, a county auditor submitted a request for review after finding out the county board discussed her salary during executive session, presumably without her present.
Because the auditor, along with the coroner, are elected officials created by the constitution with separate statutory powers and duties, they meet the definition of public officer and not employee. Therefore, a county cannot discuss their compensation in a closed session. This would also be true for other similar public officers such as county board members and their compensation.
County budget season is well underway and should be wrapping up, so members should all be mindful of attempts to use this exemption in a similar manner as the county in this opinion.