- Associated Press - Sunday, July 6, 2014

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) - Some local officials across Vermont say the state’s new open meeting law has some unintended consequences that are prompting some communities to take down their websites.

Some town officials say the new law’s requirement that minutes be posted online within five days of a meeting will create excessive burdens. Others fear that if posting deadlines are missed, actions taken during those meetings could be ruled invalid.

Montgomery Selectboard Chairman Scott Perry said the law, which took effect July 1, is a sea change.

“This is the first time the state has ever mandated Web content on a municipality, and that is huge,” said Perry, who spends 20-volunteer hours a week maintaining his community’s website.

The open meeting law applies to every municipal selectboard, council, board of trustees, municipal commission, committee and subcommittee.

The law is designed to improve transparency, but it could result in the opposite. The Burlington Free Press (https://bfpne.ws/1t69TgE) reports the Vermont League of Cities and Towns advised towns take down websites if they couldn’t comply with the law.

When he signed the bill into law, Gov. Peter Shumlin said he had “serious concern” about parts of the law.

Vermont lawmakers say they may revisit the legislation next year. Even open government advocates say there are problems with it.

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