|Attorney General Chris Koster|
Missouri's attorney general is now investigating complaints that another Stone County public governing body has violated the Sunshine Law.
Attorney General Chris Koster's office is looking into claims that the Stone County Health Department board of directors violated the law during meetings in October, November and December of 2013.
Alleged violations include action the board took in November to discuss the 2014 budget during closed session. That was followed by the subsequent adoption of that budget during another closed meeting in December.
In a letter to board chairman Phyllis Knapp, Koster inquires about the November budget discussion and the adoption of that budget. Koster also wants additional information on other business items discussed during closed sessions in October, November and December.
Koster's letter to Knapp states, "Discussion of a public governmental body's budget is usually not an acceptable topic for a closed session and does not fall under the exception listed" in the section of law known as the Sunshine Law.
The AG's letter also questions the board's adoption of the December budget during a closed session.
Koster's letter to Knapp states, "Please provide our office with a response to this issue at your earliest convenience, but no later than Feb. 28, 2014.
Last month Stone County clerk Judy Berkstresser alleged during the yearly budget meeting for the county that presiding commissioner Dennis Wood broke the Sunshine Law when he and other commissioners discussed approving the reappropriation of $300,000 from an emergency fund into a new reserve fund after a meeting had been adjourned and because it was conducted outside of someone to take official minutes of the meeting.
An attorney retained by the Stone County Health Department has responded to Attorney General Chris Koster.
Attorney Matthew Trokey says in his response that he has advised the SDHD that they should not have gone into closed session to discuss any of the matters brought to light.
He says he will be available via conference call for future board meetings.