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Civil Service Board reviews changes
Meetings may require more advance notice
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Forsyth County News

The members of the Forsyth County Civil Service Board reviewed Thursday how changes to the state open meetings and open records laws could affect them.

House Bill 397, which passed overwhelmingly in both chambers of the Georgia Legislature, awaits Gov. Nathan Deal’s signature.

Attorney Lauren Giles said the definition of what is and is not a meeting has been altered in the bill, adding that the board would not have an issue if it continues to follow its regular meeting structure.

Public notice for a regular meeting, Giles said, would need to be posted one week in advance, rather than 24 hours, and must also be put on the county’s Web site.

Another new aspect, she said, is that special called or emergency meetings with less than 24 hours’ notice would be authorized under certain circumstances.

The three-member board has come under scrutiny in the past for not posting notice far enough in advance or in the proper location.

Vice chairman Terry Smith, who presided over Thursday’s meeting due to Avery Howell’s absence, questioned who would be responsible for a violation of the act, which could carry penalties of up to $1,000.

“Could we be held as individual members of this board, who don’t work for the county, if [the clerk] didn’t post something the right way?” Smith said.

Giles said she didn’t know for sure, but suspected the board would be responsible only for the actions its members take.

The board also reviewed changes to executive session rules. Minutes must now be taken, but attorney-client privilege allows for qualified information to remain private.

Also on Thursday, the board approved a policy 2-0 that will allow members to make a temporary replacement if a vacancy in an elected position opens.