When asked to audio-record their nonpublic (executive or closed) meetings, most governing bodies will dismiss the suggestion without even weighing its pros and cons.

The fact that one public body–the High Bridge Borough Council (Hunterdon County)–resolved earlier this year to audio-record its executive sessions, might help readers get their town councils and school boards to more seriously consider doing the same. The High Bridge resolution is on-line here.

Note that the resolution states that High Bridge’s audio-recordings of executive sessions “are subject to the same retention schedule as Open Session Meeting recordings.” According to the state’s record retention schedules, tapes can be destroyed “80 days after summary or verbatim transcript have been approved by the governing body whichever is later.” In other words, High Bridge can apply for permission to destroy its executive session audio recordings a mere 80 days after the executive session minutes are approved. (See the Records Retention Schedules promulgated by the Bureau of Records Management. For the particular record that is the subject of this article, scroll down to the General Schedule for Municipal Agencies.  There you will find Records Series # 0511-000 (Recordings of Public Meetings – audio and video).)

John Paff
Somerset, New Jersey

Chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project. Please send all comments to [email protected]