Legal Hotline: Regular Meeting Notice

Legal Hotline: Regular Meeting Notice

PNA Legal Hotline

Q:  Does the Sunshine Act require agencies to provide a general meeting notice at the beginning of the year, and if so, what are the requirements?

A: Yes.  The Sunshine Act requires agencies to provide public notice of its regular meeting schedule, and that notice is typically provided within the first weeks of the year.

Section 709 of the Act requires agencies to “give public notice of its first regular meeting of each calendar or fiscal year not less than three days in advance of the meeting and shall give public notice of the schedule of its remaining regular meetings.”

The law requires the public notice to include the date, time and location of the meeting, and the notice must appear in a newspaper of general circulation at least three days prior to the first regular meeting. The notice must also contain the agency’s regular meeting schedule for the rest of the year. The law also requires agencies to post this notice prominently at the agency’s principal office or at the public building in which the meeting is to be held.

A typical regular meeting notice might look like this:

“Borough Council will hold its first regular meeting of the year at 7pm Thursday, January 7, 2021 at Borough Hall, 123 Main Street.  Regular meetings for the remainder of the calendar year will occur on the second Thursday of each month at 7pm at Borough Hall.”

Special meetings, which are held outside the regular schedule, require separate public notice in a newspaper of general circulation of the date, time and location of the meeting. Special meeting notices must be published in a newspaper of general circulation at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting. News articles, website postings, and other types of notification do not take the place of public notice ads required by the Sunshine Act.

It is also important to note that Act 15 of 2020, which allows agencies to hold remote public meetings during the COVID-19 disaster declaration, does not supersede or invalidate the requirements of the Sunshine Act. The notices permitted by the Act 15 are provided in addition to the public notice requirements of the Sunshine Act.

As always, this is not intended to be, nor should it be construed as, legal advice.  Please consult your private attorney or the PNA Legal Hotline at (717) 703-3048 with questions.