Council Passes New Financial Guidelines
Bowling, Brian, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Monroeville Council changed the way the municipality handles public money at its Dec. 12 meeting by passing a package of six financial policies and guidelines.
The proposal was never discussed publicly or submitted for public review before the council approved it.
The council discussed the policies behind closed doors for the last few months. The notices for the meetings claimed the discussions were exempt from the state law requiring open government meetings because council members were discussing legal and personnel matters.
Bruce Dice, the council's lawyer, said council members didn't have to discuss the proposed policy changes publicly because they didn't have any effect until the council voted on them.
"Those are confidential until they're passed," he said.
The discussions were exempt from the open meetings law, known as the "sunshine" law, because council members were discussing whether employees who might object to the changes could successfully challenge them, he said.
"They wanted to discuss whether we could withstand those grievances," Dice said.
He said the discussions were exempted from public scrutiny under two other exceptions -- conferences and informational meetings.
Melissa Melewsky, a lawyer for the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, said none of those exceptions seem warranted in the case of the financial policy changes. …