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Williamsport Town Council holds executive session

November 10, 2004|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

A resident's inquiry about parking meter money sparked a spontaneous executive session during Monday's regularly scheduled town council meeting.

In the middle of the meeting, Councilman James G. McCleaf II called for the private session to discuss a "personnel" matter about "one or more employees," boilerplate references from state law.

The private session lasted a few minutes. Council members said later that they talked about releasing the town meter reader's salary, which resident James T. Jewell requested.

Earlier, Mayor John W. Slayman directed Clerk/Treasurer Bonnie J. Errico to add the salary to other expenses and only disclose the total.

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Slayman changed his mind Tuesday and released the salary.

Maryland Assistant Attorney General William Varga said the state's Open Meetings Law lets public bodies discuss certain topics in closed session.

The presiding officer must distribute, in writing, the discussion topic, which must be more than a rehash of the statute, he said.

For example, "a public works employee's request for leave" is specific, but doesn't reveal too much, he said.

Varga said he couldn't specifically comment on whether Monday's executive session topic was a legal exemption because he advises the state's Open Meetings Compliance Board.

In general, though, an employee's salary seems to be covered in the "closed meetings" section of the Open Meetings Act, he said.

The section lets a public body meet privately to "discuss (i) the appointment, employment, assignment, promotion, discipline, demotion, compensation, removal, resignation, or performance evaluation of appointees, employees or officials over whom it has jurisdiction; or (ii) any other personnel matter that affects 1 or more specific individuals."

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