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October 17, 2019

Request: Did the City of Minot violate the open meetings laws by holding a city council meeting outside city limits at a location inaccessible to the public?

Conclusion: The City of Minot held an annual retreat in the City of Washburn, approximately 70 miles outside of the city. When a meeting of a municipal governing body occurs outside of its jurisdiction, the location of the meeting will be closely scrutinized. Although there were reasonable arguments to be made for the selection of the site for the retreat, in this case no options were provided for the Minot citizens to access the meeting remotely, no transportation assistance was arranged or offered, and there was no compelling reason for holding the meeting in the selected site. The citizens of Minot are the “public” primarily interested in the business and affairs of the city council and even though no decisions were made, the discussions held during the retreat on matters that will come before the city in the future affect the citizens of Minot. Taking into account all factors, the retreat of the Minot City Council 70 miles from its jurisdiction was a meeting that was inaccessible to the public and therefore violated the law.

Opinion 2019-O-18

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