Land Bank Playbook: Open Meetings, Public Records and Ethics Policy

Land Bank Playbook Section XVI

A. Open Meetings

R.C. 1724.11 requires that LRC meetings be open to the public. All records are deemed public pursuant to R.C. Chapter 149. There are exceptions for meetings and documents expressly deemed confidential in the statute. LRC legal counsel should prepare an opinion for the LRC describing and explaining these exceptions.

B. Public Records and Records Commission

LRC documents are subject to Ohio’s open records laws and must be made available on request. See: R.C. 149.43. Exceptions for confidential documents typically relate to active negotiations and transactions in real estate, litigation, personnel and other such commonly accepted exceptions. For this reason, a records retention policy is important to promote transparency, but also to protect confidential information.

The LRC must establish its own “Records Commission” the purpose of which is to establish record retention policies. This “Commission” can consist of individuals on the Board or select LRC staff who set policy for implementation by LRC administrative staff. These policies would include the labeling and tracking of public documents, best practices for retaining hard copies, capturing select electronic files; establishing exceptions to public records; eligibility for the timely document destruction consistent with law. This Records Commission is under the jurisdiction of the Ohio Historical Society which is the repository of the record retention policies and to which the LRC Records Commission answers.

C. Ethics Policy

While opinions may vary, it does not appear that a LRC is a “public” or “political” subdivision for purposes of compliance with the Ohio’s ethics statutes. This is all the more reason to establish a meaningful and strict ethics policy. This is not to be confused with the board members who are also elected officials who are subject to the Ohio ethics laws. As to elected officials serving on the board, family relationships, donations, contributions, etc. involving a LRC vendors must be disclosed.

Forms should be established which are signed by each board member acknowledging receipt of the LRC’s ethics policy. Likewise, elected officials on the board must sign a disclosure form disclosing any possible conflicts or ethical issues.

Forms referenced in this section:

  • Form XVI-1 – Public Records Policy and Records Retention Schedule
  • Form XVI-2 – Sunshine Laws – Summary
  • Form XVI-3 – Ethics Policy
  • Form XVI-4 – Contractor/Elected Official Disclosure Form
  • Form XVI-5 – No Political Subdivision Status of LRC Sample Opinion