May 13, 1997

In re: Olive Hill Citizens League/City of Olive Hill

Open Meetings Decision

This matter comes to the Attorney General as an appeal by the Olive Hill Citizens League in connection with its complaint against the city of Olive Hill.

In a letter to Olive Hill Mayor Jim Short, dated April 14, 1997, the Olive Hill Citizens League complained about a special meeting held by the city on March 24, 1997. It was alleged that the statutory provisions relative to the holding of a special meeting were not complied with by the city.

On May 1, 1997, this office received from the Olive Hill Citizens League what, apparently, is its letter of appeal. The Citizens League stated that the city had never responded to its complaint. Included in the material received by this office was a statement that the complaint of the Citizens League was hand-delivered to the city hall at 11:15 a.m. by Dorothy Lee and received by Scott Lambert. The statement indicated that the delivery and receipt occurred on April 15, 1997.

KRS 61.846(1) sets forth the duties and obligations of both the complaining party and the public agency in connection with a complaint registered under the Open Meetings Act. The written complaint to the presiding officer of the public agency shall state the circumstances which constitute an alleged violation of the Open Meetings Act and what the public agency should do to remedy the alleged violation. While this office cannot decide the question raised on its merits, in view of the lack of facts and information furnished, it can be stated that the complaining party has at least satisfied the statutory requirements relative to the making of a complaint.

The statute requires that the public agency, within three business days after the receipt of the complaint, notify the complaining party in writing whether it intends to correct the situation set forth in the complaint. If the public agency denies the allegations set forth in the complaint the agency must set forth in its written response a statement of the specific statute supporting the public agency's denial and a brief explanation of how the statute applies to the specific situation under consideration.

The limited record available to this office indicates that neither the mayor, as the presiding officer at the council meetings, nor any other city official has submitted a written response to the complaining party concerning the matters set forth in the letter of the Citizens League, dated April 14, 1997, and received by the city on April 15, 1997.

This office is not making and cannot make at this time any decision as to whether the city council violated the Open Meetings Act in connection with the special meeting held on March 24, 1997. It is, however, the decision of this office that the city violated the Open Meetings Act by its failure to respond in writing to the complaining party within three business days after the receipt of the complaint. See 97-OMD-74 and 97-OMD-37, copies of which are enclosed. The city should immediately respond in writing to the Olive Hill Citizens League relative to the complaint of April 14, 1997, addressed to the mayor, being certain to consider the issue raised and include in the response the information required by KRS 61.846(1).

A party aggrieved by this decision may challenge it by filing an appeal with the appropriate circuit court within thirty days from the date of this decision. See KRS 61.846(4)(a) and KRS 61.848. Pursuant to KRS 61.846(5), the Attorney General must be notified of any action filed in the circuit court, but he shall not be named as a party in that action or in any subsequent proceeding under the Open Meetings Act.

A. B. Chandler III

Attorney General

Thomas R. Emerson

Assistant Attorney General


Copies of this decision

have been distributed to:

Olive Hill Citizens League

P.O. Box 361

Olive Hill KY 41164

Jim Short

Mayor, City of Olive Hill

P.O. Box 460

Olive Hill KY 41164