JONESVILLE — Citizens have noticed Jonesville Town Council members gathering at times outside of the regular Town Council meetings, which are scheduled to take place at 7 p.m. on the second Monday of each month at Town Hall. Because public notice of all meetings are required, this has been confusing particularly to those who attend the regular monthly meetings without staying through the adjournment.
“Open Meetings and Other Legal Requirements for Local Governments in North Carolina” by David Lawrence is the authority on procedures for holding meetings in Jonesville as well as other local municipalities. A copy of this can be found online.
According to Lawrence, the town council can hold four types of meetings — regular meetings, special meetings, emergency meetings and recessed meetings.
Although all of these meeting require public notice, there are specific guidelines for each type including where the notice is given and how much time is required.
The meetings in question for Jonesville have been recessed meetings. Lawrence explains a recessed meeting, “If a public body is in a properly noticed regular, special, or emergency meeting, it may recess that meeting to a time, date, and place certain. Notice of a recessed meeting is provided by announcing the time, date, and place of the recessed meeting in open session at the original meeting.”
According to Town Clerk Lynn Trivette, this was done. Looking back at meeting notes, Trivette reported, “Monday, Feb. 13, 2017, was a regular scheduled meeting. After the closed session, when going back into regular session, the board recessed until Feb. 17 at 8:30 a.m., and after the closed session when going back into the regular session, the board recessed until Feb. 24 at 8:30 a.m., and after the closed session when going back into the regular session, the board recessed until March 3 at 10 a.m., and after the closed session when going back into the regular session, the board adjourned.”
North Carolina General Statute 143-318.11 states, “A public body may hold a closed session and exclude the public only when a closed session is required.” Those issues that the statute recognizes as requiring a closed session deal with confidential information, attorney consultations, personnel concerns, investigations and public safety concerns. Real estate matters and other business and military locations, expansions or acquisitions are appropriate for closed session discussions, according to Statute 143-318.11 as well. It also allows a private period of discussion, “to prevent the premature disclosure of an honorary degree, scholarship, prize, or similar award.”
According to Trivette, “All [of the recessed meetings] were personnel issues.” Because the previous town manager, Scott Buffkin, resigned in January, personnel issues are of significant concern to Jonesville residents. “The board is speaking to one individual, however no decisions have been made,” reassured Trivette of the hiring of a new manager.
Minutes for Jonesville Town Council are posted on the website after the board addresses any additions or corrections and votes to approve them. Meeting minutes can be found at http://www.jonesvillenc.gov/archived-minutes-town-council.htm.
The next scheduled meeting of the Jonesville Town Council will be the budget retreat at 8 a.m. on March 31 with the regular monthly meeting following on April 10.
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Twitter @TBeanieTaylor.