ELMSFORD, N.Y. The Town of Greenburgh and the villages of Elmsford and Ardsley are expected to have no problem complying with a new law mandating that all board meeting agendas be posted online at least one day before the meeting.
Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law this week. It takes effect on Feb. 2. State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D-Scarsdale) sponsored the law, requiring any document being discussed in any public meeting (town board, village board, school board, planning board) to be made available 24 hours prior to the meeting's start. If a board does not comply, citizens would then have the right to sue the government agency.
Matthew Evans, Elmsford's board of education president, said that New York State already requires boards of education to post their documents in advance. The board usually meets on the month's first Wednesday, and releases their agenda two or three business days in advance.
"This will not, in any way, affect us," said Evans. "It's something that we have been doing for quite a while. We actually have certain members of the community who request that the agenda be sent to them ahead of time."
While the school district now uses BoardDocs to host their meeting agendas online, Evans said that the board goes out of their way to ensure that residents are apprised of the agenda's items.
"It's all online now, but some residents used to have it mailed to them," said Evans. "I'm very confident that if there were members of the community who don't have computer access, they could still call the district clerk or business office and ask to be mailed a copy."
While Ardsley's village board of trustees makes its agenda publicly available several days before the meetings, it is only sent out through the village's email blasts, and not posted directly to the website. Since taking office in December, new Ardsley Mayor Peter Porcino has spoken about improving the village's website, and said that he will ensure that agendas are posted before the law takes effect in February.
"Transparency is part of our platform," said Porcino. "We firmly believe that government should be open and that what we're doing should be open. We have been encouraging people to sign up for the village [email] blasts and to participate."
The Greenburgh town board and Greenburgh Central 7 board of education agendas are both made available on their respective websites several days prior to their meetings.
Paulin says that she hopes that the new bill will promote the public's involvement in local government.
"I think it will enhance public participation and transparency, which is extremely important to make the public confident in their government and to make the governments better," Paulin said.
"Transparency is something that we value," Evans said. "And we're working with a community and making sure that they are our partners in this."
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