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RIAG Advisory Opinion (Open Meetings) 16-03 Prudence Island Volunteer Fire Department

ADV OM 16-03 Prudence Island Volunteer Fire Department

Legal counsel for the Prudence Island Volunteer Fire Department ("PIVFD") sought an OMA advisory opinion concerning whether the PIVFD is a "public body" subject to the OMA. Based on Solas v. Emergency Hiring Council, 774 A.2d 820 (R.I. 2001), and this Department's previous findings in Finnegan v. Scituate Town Council, OM 97-05, Schmidt v. Ashaway Volunteer Fire Association, OM 98-33, and Montiero v. Providence School Board Nominating Commission, OM 02-25, we looked to the PIVFD's Articles of Incorporation, Fire Service Agreement with the Town of Portsmouth, and Corporate Bylaws to assist our analysis. The evidence demonstrated, inter alia, that the PIVFD is a nonprofit corporation that was not created by the Town of Portsmouth, that the PIVFD selects its own members independent of any governmental or public approval process, that the PIVFD provides no medical benefits and no pensions to its members, and that the Fire Service Agreement is terminable by either party. Based on the specific evidence presented, we opined that the PIVFD is not a "public body" under the OMA.

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