Making a government meeting open

There is a lot that goes into the everyday business of running a Texas governing body. Whether you are supporting your city or other municipality, it can seem like there is an endless list of obligations and rules for completing those tasks.

When it comes time to schedule meetings, the local residents need to have the opportunity to be involved. The Open Meetings Act is in place to make sure that everyone interested has proper notice about upcoming meetings.

Here’s what it takes to make sure your city’s meetings are “open” when it comes to the Act.

What kind of notification

Letting residents know about a meeting used to be simple. People looked for a notice in the local newspaper or a flyer on a physical bulletin board if they wanted to attend a meeting.

While technology has changed, the requirement has not. Bulletin boards and newspapers are still sufficient to serve as notification. Even if you typically only post physical notices, you should consider posting notices on your website or social media pages if you have them.

The idea behind the Open Meetings Act is to give the people of your municipality the opportunity to participate if they are interested. The more accessible your notifications are the more people who will have the chance to participate.

How far in advance

Ideally, you want to give your city’s residents as much notice as possible that there is going to be a meeting. If they have more notice, they should have more time to make arrangements to attend.

For a scheduled meeting, you need to provide notice at least 72 hours in advance. The Open Meetings Act also has an allowance for last-minute meetings. If there is going to be an emergency meeting, you must give your residents at least two hours’ notice and state the reason for the emergency meeting.