Northville fails to make budget document public

NORTHVILLE – The Northville Central School Board of Education did not provide copies of the proposed 2013-14 district budget to members of the public or the media at Tuesday’s meeting, an apparent violation of the state’s Freedom of Information Law.

According to Interim Superintendent Debra Lynker, a budget document would be available sometime today on the district’s website. District Business Director Bruce Ellsworth said today it might not be available till May.

Previous requests for the working sheets of the 2013-14 budget also were denied. Lynker has said the district will not release the details of a budget proposal before it is approved by the school board.

Since Feb. 2, 2012, public bodies have been required by state law to make available the documents they discuss during a public meeting. This applies to records available under the Freedom of Information Law, including proposed resolutions, laws, rules, regulations and policies.

Robert Freeman, executive director of the state Committee on Open Government, said the district may have violated the law.

“I would suggest it was a failure to fully comply with the law,” Freeman said of the Northville school board’s failure to provide the budget document for public review before or during Tuesday’s meeting.

The 2012 amendment to the law came about because members of the public can’t follow discussions at meetings when they don’t have access to the documents being reviewed by board members.