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Delaware Department of Justice
Attorney General
Kathy Jennings

 Archived Posts From:  October 2001

01-IB15 Re: Freedom of Information Act Complaint Against Sussex County

Complainant alleged that Sussex County violated the Freedom of Information Act because meetings between the County Administrator and his department heads and staff held for the purpose of developing an operating budget for the county were not noticed and open to the public. Held: FOIA does not apply to discussions between the County Administrator (a “body of one” under the statute) and his department heads and staff. “It would be unrealistic, indeed intolerable, to require of such professionals that every meeting, every contact, and every discussion with anyone from whom they would seek counsel or consultation to assist in acquiring the necessary information, data or intelligence needed to advise or guide the authority by whom they are employed, be a public meeting.” Nor did holding such meetings constitute a delegation of authority to a committee such that the committee meetings were required to be open. That is especially so considering the fact that the public has a meaningful opportunity to review and comment on the proposed budget when it is being considered by the full council.

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