President Michael Forbes,
The Indiana Commission on Public Records has the oversight responsibilities for government records in Indiana, including establishing a statewide records management program, prescribing the standards and procedures for record making and record keeping, (lC 5-15-5.1-4).
It has come to our attention that the Town Council of St. John has hired a private recording secretary to take minutes at the town council's meetings. These duties are the legal responsibility and obligation of the elected town clerk-treasurer under IC 36-5-6-6(9): "The clerk-treasurer shall do the following: Serve as clerk of the legislative body by attending its meetings and recording its proceedings."
The Commission on Public Records is concerned about the legitimacy of the minutes of the town council meetings not being recorded by the town clerk-treasurer or their designee, but by a contractor of the town council.
It is the Commission's position that the official minutes of the town council should be taken by the town's clerk-treasurer and then amended, revised, and adopted by the governing body. Recordings of the meeting presented by a third-party and adopted by the town council may put in question the official actions of the town council.
Additionally, if the town council has hired the private recording secretary using local tax funds, the State Board of Accounts might fault the individual members of the town council for paying for duplicative services and seek reimbursement from the individual members to repay the town's coffers.
Lastly, you may wish to contact Joe Hoage, the Indiana Public Access Counselor regarding his office's opinion on executive sessions and the discretion of the town council to determine attendees.
If I can be of assistance, or should you have questions or like to discuss this issue further, please feel free to contact me.
Jim Corridan Director & State Archivist Indiana Commission on Public Records