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Western Coventry Fire District Settles Open Meetings Act Lawsuit; Agrees to Pay $1,000 Fine

Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin today announced that the Office of Attorney General has reached a settlement agreement with the Western Coventry Fire District for a violation of the Rhode Island Open Meetings Act (OMA) when the Fire District failed to timely file or post the unofficial minutes for its September 18, 2014 meeting on the Secretary of State's website. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the First District has agreed to pay $1,000 fine.

"While we are cognizant of the limited staff and resources of smaller public bodies, such as the Western Coventry Fire District, it does not take them off the hook for failure to comply with our open government laws. It is my hope and expectation that the Fire District will comply with the Open Meetings Act going forward," said Attorney General Kilmartin.

The OMA requires all volunteer fire companies, associations, fire district companies, or any other organization currently engaged in the mission of extinguishing fire and preventing fire hazards, whether it is incorporated or not, and whether it is a paid department or not, shall post unofficial minutes of their meetings within twenty-one (21) days of the meeting, but not later than seven (7) days prior to the next regularly scheduled meeting, whichever is earlier, on the secretary of state's website. See R.I. Gen. Laws 42-46-7(b)(2).

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