Pulaski County Council Member Expresses Concern over Availability of Meeting Minutes, Notices

Pulaski County Council: back row: Mike Tiede, Kathi Thompson, Brian Young; front row: Scott Hinkle, Rudy DeSabatine, Jay Sullivan (not pictured: Ken Boswell)

Pulaski County can do a better job of sharing its government records with the public. That’s according to County Council Member Brian Young. During a recent meeting, Young noted that while there’s an online archive of meeting minutes on the county’s website, it hasn’t been updated since October, at least for the council and commissioners meetings.

“I think we can be a little quicker in that, whether or not we have to hire additional help, secretarial, for the council, to help out [Auditor] Laura [Wheeler] or whatever,” Young said. “I can’t refer to these unless I come in and sort through loose-leaf papers, in some cases, to find out minutes from back to October.”

Young added that Community Development Commission Executive Director Nathan Origer is apparently in charge of posting minutes to the website, but he said he hasn’t been getting them from the auditor, who’s responsible for keeping them.

The discussion became more heated as Young turned his attention to posting agendas and meeting notices. Indiana Open Door Law requires that public notice of a meeting be posted at least 48 hours in advance, excluding weekends and holidays, at the governing body’s main office or, in some cases, at the meeting location. Notice must also be given to news media who send in a written request before the start of the year.

Most of those in attendance felt that all the legal requirements were being followed, and local media outlets go a good job of keeping residents informed. But Young felt the county could do more, especially when it comes to getting information to residents with disabilities. “Is this good enough?” he asked. “Because that’s this whole thing is this is good enough for the people that live here. We can do better. We can have our appointment schedule. We can know what the law is about things. When I go online to look up the minutes, and there’s nothing for six months, people wonder what the heck’s going on.”

Council President Jay Sullivan did not think that a public meeting was the right place to discuss these concerns. “It’s not something that really pertains to county money business,” he said. “It’s a little bit of policy, and I don’t think it’s something that needs to be discussed like it has been tonight. We could talk to Laura about it separately and say, ‘Hey Laura, we need to get this done. Send Nathan the minutes.’ I can talk to Nathan about it and get it done. That’s how it needs to be addressed, and that’s how it needs to be done in the future, too. I mean, there’s no sense in everybody getting upset about it.”

Sullivan said that in his 18 years on the council, he’s never heard anyone complain about a lack of meeting notice, but Young said he’s not the first one to express concerns.