Georgia Open Meetings Act
Who is subject to the Georgia Open Meetings Act (GOMA)?
The Board of Commissioners (BOC) and committees created by the BOC that include members of the BOC. Also, other entities created by law such as Planning Commission, Board of Zoning Appeals, Board of Tax Assessors, Airport Authority, and Water and Sewerage Authority. All County Boards and Authorities are subject to the GOMA, but GOMA does not apply to the Courts.
What is a meeting under the GOMA?
The gathering of a quorum of the body (e.g., three of five Commissioners) to discuss or take action on County business. This gathering could be a regular meeting, specially called meeting, workshop, retreat, or meeting at a local restaurant to discuss County business. There is an exception for gathering to inspect County facilities (groundbreakings, tours, openings, etc.).
What notice is required?
For regular meetings, 24 hours notice posted at the regular meeting place. For specially called meetings, 24 hours posted notice and notice to the legal organ, except in emergencies.
Must there be a meeting agenda for each meeting?
Yes, it must be available on request and posted at the meeting site some time in the two weeks prior to the meeting.
What meetings can be closed?
BOC meetings can be closed for basically three reasons: 1) to consult with legal counsel on pending or potential claims and litigation; 2) to discuss the acquisition of real estate; and 3) to discuss hiring and firing a public officer or employee.
What is the affidavit requirement?
The presiding officer (normally the Chairman) must sign a notarized affidavit under oath that the subject matter of the closed meeting was devoted to matters within the specific exceptions authorized by law and identify the specific exception(s).
What is the penalty for violating the GOMA?
It is a misdemeanor punishable by a $500 fine for any person to participate in a meeting that violates the GOMA. If the executive session affidavit contains false information, the presiding officer may be convicted of a felony punishable by one to five years and/or $1,000 fine. Also, violation of the GOMA may be grounds for recall.