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Open Meetings, Records Measures Approved by Commissioners

Paulding County leaders will be designating open records officers under a resolution passed Tuesday by the Board of Commissioners.

during their business session Tuesday approved two measures that were the result of revisions to Georgia’s Open Meetings and Open Records Act made during the state’s most recent legislative session. One measure states that the Board of Commissioners chairman has the power to designate a recorder of minutes for executive sessions—more commonly known as closed sessions.

“Prior to the open meetings revisions, there was no requirement under Georgia law that minutes be taken in executive (closed) session,” County Attorney Jayson Phillips said during Tuesday morning’s work session. “With the revisions, executive minutes are now required; however, they’re not a matter of public record.”

The minutes kept in a closed session will remain “not a matter of public record” unless ordered for disclosure by a superior court judge, Phillips said.

Another approved resolution will have the county designating open records officers and open records officer alternates—individuals employed by the county who will be allowed to receive open records requests.

“Under the old law, there was not an unofficial custodian or official officer that was designated to receive open records requests. The problem that was created by that is that anybody could make an open records request if they found an employee who happened to work for the government seeking the records; the time clock would start when that records request was delivered or stated to that employee, and it created a problem tracking-wise because many employees do not receive open records requests as part of their job responsibilities,” Phillips said.

Phillips added that the resolution centralizes the open records process in each department.

With the resolution approved, county officials once they designate open records officers and alternates will have to list those designees on the county’s website.

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Another measure that received commissioner approval was a $59,086.56 purchase for 416 chairs and chair dollies for the county’s . Funds for the purchase will come from Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds.

Michael Justus, director of , said the purchase will replace all of the center’s chairs, which to his knowledge had never been replaced. The old chairs, he added, will be used as much as possible.

In other business, commissioners at their business session also approved:

  • The appointment of Tommy Morris, Matthew J. Reinagel and James W. Steele to the Alcohol License Review Board for a term ending on Dec. 31.
  • A revision of the Alcohol Beverage License and Permit Fee Schedule with an effective date of July 1 of this year.
  • An amendment the July 10 Board of Commissioners work session minutes to state that Commissioner David Barnett will present his payback check to Finance Director Tabitha Pollard to be used toward public safety expenses. The amendment is aimed at reflecting that only Barnett presented his payback check and not Commissioner Todd Pownall as previously indicated.

Pownall at the start of Tuesday morning’s work session presented his check to Pollard. The commissioner had been slated to present the check to Sheriff Gary Gulledge, but the sheriff was not in attendance.

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