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(All questions are handled with appropriate discretion. The questions posted in Mr. Eisner’s columns are generalized frequently asked questions.)


Does the Open Meetings Law (OML) require that a library board discuss staff salary increases in executive session, and what is the procedure to do so?

Any discussions about salary increases are best discussed in Executive Session (ES). The provisions of the OML are applicable to association as well as public libraries and library systems.

In accordance with the requirements of the Open Meeting Law (OML) the published  agenda for a public board meeting must indicate the fact that an ES will take place. It can only be entered into after the board convenes in public session, and then passes a motion to enter into the  ES. Where it is known in advance that the purpose is to discuss an increase in salary or anything else related to a staff member, the mere statement that an ES will take place is not sufficient- the phrase on the agenda or the entry in the minutes of the public meeting should state the following or an equivalent: “Executive Session- to discuss the performance of a particular  staff member”, or as counsel to the Committee on Open Government (COOG) stated:

“…..[W]ith respect to the adequacy of a motion to enter into executive session, it has been advised that a motion describing the subject to be discussed as “personnel” or “specific personnel matters” is inadequate, and that the motion should be based upon the specific language of §105(1)(f). For instance, a proper motion might be: “I move to enter into an executive session to discuss the employment history of a particular person.” By means of the kind of motion suggested above, members of a public body and others in attendance would have the ability to know that there is a proper basis for entry into an executive session. Absent such detail, neither the members nor others may be able to determine whether the subject may properly be considered behind closed doors.

“It has long been suggested that a motion made pursuant to §105(1)(f) is not required to include information that would identify the person who is the subject of the discussion” (Op COG OML 2748, April 22, 1997).

It is permissible to note in any published agenda that an ES may take place,  thus allowing the board the flexibility to enter into an executive session at the time of a public meeting properly convened in accordance with the provisions of the OML, when as a result of a discussion in open public session a need to do so becomes necessary, primarily because such need was either not anticipated or known when the agenda for the public meeting was prepared, or when circumstances are such that were such a discussion to be  postponed adverse consequences might result. However, as noted in Op COG OML 4780, convening an executive session in such a circumstance would still require an appropriate motion to be made and recorded in the minutes of the meeting stating the purpose of the executive session.