By action taken at an emergency session of the New York State Legislature, due to concerns about the current transmission of COVID-19, municipal boards once again have the right to virtually meet or convene in person without allowing public in-person access to the meeting. Meetings can be held fully in-person for board members and the public, via conference call or similar service for board members and the public, as well as in a hybrid model, allowing for both in-person and virtual access. There is no requirement that a board adopt a local law or resolution to take advantage of this alternative meeting option. However, meetings must be appropriately noticed and the public must be made aware as to how to access all public meetings. This legislation goes into effect immediately and will be repealed on January 15, 2022. The law is located in Part E on page 35 of the legislation.
The municipal board must provide the public access to view or listen to the proceedings of the board. Additionally, the meeting must be recorded and transcribed at a later date.
The legislation does not impose any requirements on municipalities regarding the public notice of meetings that will proceed without public attendance. Unless guidance is issued by New York State, we advise our clients to notice meetings in a similar manner to meetings that were held virtually during the New York State COVID-19 Disaster Emergency. The notices should state whether the board is meeting in-person, via conference call or video platform, and the manner by which the public can have access to hear or view the proceedings of the board. To the extent that the board’s policies or practice is to take comments from the public during its meetings, the notice should provide how such comments can be made.
Should you require any assistance with your notices or have any questions about this legislation, please contact any of the Keane & Beane attorneys in the Municipal Law Practice Group.