Effective July 1, 2018
By attorneys Jenna Bishop and Jason Comisky
On May 4, 2018, Governor Reynolds signed into law Senate File 2227 giving Iowa counties a new option when publishing Board of Supervisors proceedings, but also imposing a new requirement for those counties that maintain a website.
An Option: Summarizing Resolutions for Publication
Currently, Iowa Code Section 349.16 requires that proceedings of a County's Board of Supervisors be published. Iowa Code Section 349.18 describes further what must be published from the proceedings. Despite Section 349.18's explanation, historically there have been many questions submitted to the Iowa Attorney General from counties wondering what they must publish, and lawsuits filed by citizens challenging counties in Iowa Courts regarding such publications.
Effective July 1, 2018, Iowa Code Section 349.18 will expressly authorize the County Auditor to choose one of two formats for the publication of Board of Supervisors proceedings: (1) a summary of all resolutions, or (2) the complete text of each adopted resolution.
If summarizing a resolution for publication after July 1, 2018, Section 349.18 requires the summary to include a narrative description of the resolution. The description must set forth the main points of the resolution in a manner calculated to inform the public in a clear and understandable manner the meaning of the resolution, and provide the public with sufficient notice of the policy stated or action to be taken as resolved by the board in the resolution.
The narrative must include:
- The title of the resolution;
- An accurate and intelligible synopsis of the essential elements of the resolution;
- A statement that the description is a summary;
- The location and normal business hours of the office where the full text of the resolution may be inspected; and
- The effective date of the resolution.
The narrative description must be written in a clear and coherent manner and must, to the extent possible, avoid the use of technical or legal terms not generally familiar to the public. When necessary to use technical or legal terms not generally familiar to the public, the narrative description must include definitions of those terms.
In addition to the narrative, legal descriptions of property set forth in a resolution must be described in full in the summary.
Counties should exercise caution when summarizing resolutions to ensure the above stated requirements are satisfied. When in doubt about a proposed summary of a resolution, publishing the full text of the resolution will remain a safe option for counties to ensure compliance with Iowa Code Section 349.18.
A Requirement: Posting Resolutions to County Websites
Also effective July 1, 2018, those counties operating an Internet website will be required to post the full text of all adopted resolutions on its website.
This is only a summary of the changes made by SF 2227. If you have questions about the impact of SF 2227, or want advice generally on the duty of a county to publish its proceedings, please contact an attorney in the Ahlers & Cooney Government Law Practice Group.
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