LINN COUNTY ATTORNEY

935 – 2nd Street SW Cedar Rapids, IA 52404-2100

Civil Division

COUNTY ATTORNEY

Jerry Vander Sanden
FIRST ASSISTANT Nicholas G. Maybanks Office Manager Diane Albers DIVISION ATTORNEYS Felony Jason D. Besler Jason A. Burns Nicholas L. Scott Misdemeanor Heidi A. Carmer Brian D. Claney Laurie Craig Lisa M. Epp Matthew Kishinami Rena Schulte Jordan N. Schier Elena Wolford Civil Jeffrey L. Clark Robert A. Hruska Gary P. Jarvis Christine CurleyParalegal Juvenile Rebecca Belcher William C. Croghan Lance J. Heeren Kelly Kaufman PROFESSIONAL SUPPORT Investigator James Noonan Victim/Witness Chris Adcock Anastasia Wilson

MEMORANDUM

TO: FROM: DATE: RE:

Board of Supervisors Robert Hruska March 18, 2014 Minutes and Publication – Applicable Law

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Dear Board: You have requested an opinion of the Linn County Attorney’s Office regarding the law relevant to the production of and newspaper publication of minutes and proceedings of the Linn County Board of Supervisors. It is the opinion of the Linn County Attorney that: 1. 2. 3. the board of supervisors must keep minutes of all board meetings; the minutes must include those items set forth in section II, below; transcripts or detailed descriptions of presentations and discussions which take place in board meetings are not “actions taken” by the board and not required content of the meeting minutes;

www.linncounty.org
Civil Division: 319/892-6340 fax: 319/892-6346 Criminal Division: 319/892-6350 Juvenile Division: 319/892-6330 fax: 319/892-6339 fax: 319/892-6389

LINN COUNTY ATTORNEY
935 – 2nd Street SW Cedar Rapids, IA 52404-2100

Civil Division

4.

the minutes must be recorded by the county auditor unless the board, with the consent of the auditor, appoints a permanent clerk; the county auditor must furnish a copy of the proceedings to be published within one week of adjournment of the meeting; altered or summary versions of minutes are not permitted for official publication; the minutes must be published at the expense of the county; and non-required content of board minutes need not be published at county expense.

5.

6. 7. 8.

I. The Requirement For Recording and Publication Iowa Code Section 21.3 (Open Meetings Law) provides that “Each governmental body shall keep minutes of all its meetings showing the date, time and place, the members present, and the action taken at each meeting. The minutes shall show the results of each vote taken and information sufficient to indicate the vote of each member present. The vote of each member present shall be made public at the open session. The minutes shall be public records open to public inspection.” Section 349.16 provides that, “There shall be published in each of said official newspapers at the expense of the county during the ensuing year: 1. The proceedings of the board of supervisors…”.

www.linncounty.org
Civil Division: 319/892-6340 fax: 319/892-6346 Criminal Division: 319/892-6350 Juvenile Division: 319/892-6330 fax: 319/892-6339 fax: 319/892-6389

LINN COUNTY ATTORNEY
935 – 2nd Street SW Cedar Rapids, IA 52404-2100

Civil Division

In a similar manner, Section 349.18(1), Code of Iowa requires that, “All proceedings of each regular, adjourned, or special meeting of a board of supervisors, including the schedule of bills allowed, shall be published immediately after the adjournment of the meeting.” Section 349.18(2) goes on to state that, “the publication of the schedule of the bills allowed shall include a list of all claims allowed, including salary claims for services performed, showing the name of the person or firm making the claim, the reason for the claim, and the amount of the claim.” Section 349.18(3) directs the county auditor to, ”furnish a copy of the proceedings to be published, within one week following the adjournment of the board.” Code of Iowa, Section 331.302(8), states, “A resolution becomes effective upon passage and an ordinance or amendment becomes a law when a summary of the ordinance or the complete text of the ordinance is published unless a subsequent effective date is provided within the measure.” Section 331.504 provides, “The minutes of the board shall include a record of all actions taken and the complete text of the motions, resolutions, amendments and ordinances adopted by the board.” Clearly, the law requires that minutes of meetings of a county board of Supervisors be compiled and published in the official newspapers.

www.linncounty.org
Civil Division: 319/892-6340 fax: 319/892-6346 Criminal Division: 319/892-6350 Juvenile Division: 319/892-6330 fax: 319/892-6339 fax: 319/892-6389

LINN COUNTY ATTORNEY
935 – 2nd Street SW Cedar Rapids, IA 52404-2100

Civil Division

II. Contents of Minutes of Meetings of a County Board of Supervisors As set forth above, the Code of Iowa specifically prescribes that the contents of the minutes of a meeting of a county board of supervisors shall include: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Date, time and place of the meeting; Members present; Actions taken; Results of each vote taken; The vote of each member present; The schedule of bills allowed including salary claims for services performed along with the name of the person or firm making the claim; and A complete text of resolutions, ordinances, or amendments approved by the board of supervisors.

7.

There is no requirement or authority in the Code of Iowa, case law, or opinions of the Iowa Attorney General for the inclusion of additional content within the recorded minutes of a meeting of a county board of supervisors. There is, however, no statutory or other prohibition against additional content. Because the requirement to maintain minutes set forth in Section 21.3 is specifically directed toward the “governmental body”, it follows that the
www.linncounty.org
Civil Division: 319/892-6340 fax: 319/892-6346 Criminal Division: 319/892-6350 Juvenile Division: 319/892-6330 fax: 319/892-6339 fax: 319/892-6389

LINN COUNTY ATTORNEY
935 – 2nd Street SW Cedar Rapids, IA 52404-2100

Civil Division

inclusion of any non-required content in minutes is a policy determination reserved exclusively for a board of supervisors. In a similar vein, since the maintenance of minutes of meetings is the responsibility of the governmental body, only that record approved by the body would be the official minutes required by statute. III. The Duty to Record and Publish The duty to record proceedings and to maintain minutes of meetings has been assigned by Code Section 21.3 to the individual governmental bodies which conduct meetings. While the duty to maintain minutes resides with the meeting body, in the specific case of a county board of supervisors, the legislature provided the board with assistance. Section 331.504 sets forth specific duties of a county auditor to be undertaken on behalf of a county board of supervisors. The Iowa Code designates a county auditor as the clerk of the board and specifically instructs the auditor to record the proceedings of the board and to furnish a copy of the proceedings required to be published. Iowa Code Section 331.211(2), provides: “The auditor shall serve as clerk to the board unless the board, with the consent of the auditor, appoints a permanent clerk. . .” Section 331.504 provides a specific duty for a county auditor to record the proceedings of the board and instructs that the auditor,
www.linncounty.org
Civil Division: 319/892-6340 fax: 319/892-6346 Criminal Division: 319/892-6350 Juvenile Division: 319/892-6330 fax: 319/892-6339 fax: 319/892-6389

LINN COUNTY ATTORNEY
935 – 2nd Street SW Cedar Rapids, IA 52404-2100

Civil Division

“shall include a record of all actions taken and the complete text of the motions, resolutions, amendments and ordinances adopted by the board.” While the content of minutes of board meetings is not left to the auditor’s discretion, the Iowa Attorney General has opined that, “It is the responsibility of the County Auditor to determine the text and format of the matters required for publication.” Op. Atty Gen. 348, 1982. There is currently no authority granting a county auditor discretion to determine the text and format of nonrequired content of minutes of board meetings. There is, as well, no current authority allowing a county auditor to furnish, for official publication, an altered or summary version of minutes not approved by the board. To do so might be considered falsification of a public document in violation of Iowa Code Section 718.5. It must be observed that there is no statutory prohibition against any party, including a county auditor, from maintaining a separate and personal record of a meeting of any public body. In the case of a separate record, the contents, text and format would be determined at the pleasure of the recording party. There is, however, no authority for the publication of a separate and personal record in a newspaper at county expense. In conclusion:
www.linncounty.org
Civil Division: 319/892-6340 fax: 319/892-6346 Criminal Division: 319/892-6350 Juvenile Division: 319/892-6330 fax: 319/892-6339 fax: 319/892-6389

LINN COUNTY ATTORNEY
935 – 2nd Street SW Cedar Rapids, IA 52404-2100

Civil Division

1. 2. 3.

the board of supervisors must keep minutes of all board meetings; the minutes must include those items set forth in section II, above; transcripts or detailed descriptions of presentations and discussions which take place in board meetings are not, “actions taken”, by the board and not required content of the meeting minutes; the minutes must be recorded by the county auditor unless the board, with the consent of the auditor, appoints a permanent clerk; the county auditor must furnish a copy of the proceedings to be published within one week of adjournment of the meeting; altered or summary versions of minutes are not permitted for official publication; the minutes must be published at the expense of the county; and non-required content of board minutes need not be published at county expense. Sincerely,

4.

5.

6. 7. 8.

Robert A. Hruska Assistant Linn County Attorney

www.linncounty.org
Civil Division: 319/892-6340 fax: 319/892-6346 Criminal Division: 319/892-6350 Juvenile Division: 319/892-6330 fax: 319/892-6339 fax: 319/892-6389

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