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Attachment release policy voted into law

Info on agenda items will be released before Town Board meetings

Residents attending the next meeting of the Bethlehem Town Board will now be able to show up with more information in tow than ever before.

The Town Board voted unanimously on Wednesday, Oct. 13, to adopt a law requiring the released of agenda attachments to the public at least two days before its meetings.

These attachments often include the specifics of the motions the board discusses, like the cost of purchases or the exact language of a proposed law, for example. Previously, residents would have to file a Freedom of Information Law request to see such documents or hope the information would come out during discussion of the item.

Councilman Mark Hennessey started work on the law in April, and it has since gone through nine iterations. Though it has been scaled back somewhat from his original vision, Hennessey said he was happy with the result and praised the particularly open revision process.

We've had a chance to publicly post it, have the public chime in...every member of the Town Board has been involved in the creation of this policy and the supervisor has also been involved, Hennessey said. "This is a policy that has been in the sunlight for a long time, and that can only be a good thing."

The new law requires the supervisor to provide a copy of the meeting agenda and attachments to members of the board and the town clerk six days before the meeting date. The town clerk will be tasked with posting those documents to the town's Web site two days before the meeting (which would normally be a Monday).

Included in the provision are a litany of exceptions to the rule, including the withholding of personal information, in-progress contract information, trade secrets, law enforcement information or IT security information.

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