Open Records Policy / PA Sunshine Act


Centre Region Council of Governments (COG) Open Records Policy was developed in compliance with PA Act 3 of 2008, the Right-to-Know Law, and adopted by the participating municipalities of the CRCOG. On January 26, 2009, the COG General Forum approved the Open Records Policy for their operations.

The purpose of this policy is to assure compliance with Act 3 of 2008, the Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law, as amended; to provide access to public records of the Centre Region Council of Governments (COG); to preserve the integrity of the Centre Region COG’s records; and to minimize the financial impact of the residents regarding the resources utilized in the receipt and processing of public record requests and the retrieval and copying of public records.


COG Right-to-Know Policy

To request public records, please use the following PDF form which can either be completed by typing in the requested information electronically, saving, and then e-mailing the form to admin@crcog.net, or by printing and delivering in person or faxing the form to the Administration Office at 2643 Gateway Drive, Suite 3, State College, PA 16801, or (814) 231-3083. The COG Right to Know Policy can be found by clicking here.

The Administration Office Manager currently acts as the Open Records Officer for the Centre Region Council of Governments for the following COG agencies:

        • Office of Administration
        • Centre Region Parks and Recreation / Centre Region Parks and Recreation Authority
        • Centre Region Code Administration
        • Centre Region Emergency Management
        • Centre Regional Planning Agency
        • Centre County Metropolitan Planning Organization (CCMPO)
        • Regional Fire Protection Program
        • Refuse and Recycling Program

The Alpha Fire Company and Schlow Centre Region Library may have their own Open Records Officer.

The duties of the Open Records Officer are delegated by the COG Executive Director and do not require an appointment of a COG governing body.


Right To Know Request Form

The Right to Know Request form can be printed or downloaded by clicking here. The form may filled out and returned to our offices via fax, mail, in-person delivery, or email scan.  

To complete the form electronically, fill out the form using Adobe Acrobat Reader, save it to your computer and add it as an attachment to your email.

To send a Right-to-Know Request, please choose one of the following methods:

Email - admin@crcog.net
Fax - (814) 231-3083
Mail - COG Open Records, 2643 Gateway Drive, Suite 3, State College, PA 16801

COG Open Records policy documents can be found by clicking here.

The Pennsylvania Office of Open Records website can be found by clicking here.


Advertising Requirements

The COG follows public meeting advertising requirements as found in the Pennsylvania Sunshine Law. Under the definition of “public notice,” the date, time, and place of the meeting must be published in a newspaper of general circulation. The act stipulates that notice to newspapers must be provided far enough in advance of the meeting “to allow it to be published . . . before the date of the specified meeting.”

Additionally, the COG posts its meeting information on our website which note the date, time, and place of each meeting. This information can be found on each Committee and General Forum agenda and is noted on the COG website calendar.

Regular Meetings — Dates, times, and locations of regular meetings must be advertised at least once each calendar year. Public notice of the first regularly scheduled (organizational) meeting must be given at least three days before the meeting. Should the COG decide to hold additional regular meetings after it has advertised its meeting schedule, it must also give public notice of these additional meetings.

Special Meetings and Hearings — A special meeting is defined as a “meeting scheduled by an agency after the agency’s regular schedule of meetings has been established.” Public notice of such meetings and hearings must be given at least 24 hours before the meeting or hearing. A minimum of a full 24 hours’ notice must be provided from the time the newspaper hits the streets and the meeting time. For example, if a newspaper is delivered starting at 4 pm, the meeting must be held after 4 pm the next day.

Emergency Meetings — The law does not require public notice for emergency meetings “called for the purpose of dealing with a real or potential emergency involving a clear and present danger to life or property.”

Rescheduled Meetings and Hearings — Public notice must be given at least 24 hours before the rescheduled meeting or hearing.

Budget and other Work Sessions — Legal counsel advises advertisement of budget and other work sessions as meetings open for public attendance.

Executive Sessions — The law does not require executive sessions to be advertised in a newspaper or at the meeting site. However, officials must announce their reason for holding an executive session at the open meeting held immediately before or after the executive session.

Cancellations — There is no provision in the Sunshine Law for public notice of meeting cancellations.


Minute-Keeping Requirements

The minutes are a record of the actions taken at COG public meetings. Therefore, the Sunshine Law requires minutes to include the date, time, and place of the meeting; the names of the board members present; the substance of all official actions; a record of any roll call votes taken by individual board members; and the names of all citizens who appeared officially and the subject of their comments.

 

Sunshine Act Updates

Effective August 29, 2021, government agencies covered under the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act, including local governments, must make meeting agendas available to the public 24 hours in advance of public meetings. These new rules are pursuant to recent amendments (“Act 65”) to the Sunshine Act, signed by Governor Wolf on June 30, 2021. Under Act 65, if an agency has a public website, the meeting agenda must be posted on the website no later than 24 hours prior to the start of the meeting. The agenda must also be posted, 24 hours in advance, at the agency’s principal office and at the meeting site. Finally, the agency must also make agenda copies available to attendees at the meeting.

These new requirements apply to regular and special public meetings, but not to executive sessions or work sessions. The posted agenda must include a list of each matter that will be, or may be, the subject of deliberation or official action. However, there are certain scenarios, as listed below, where the agency may consider business not listed on the posted agenda:

1. The agency may take official action on any matter “relating to a real or potential emergency involving a clear and present danger to life or property,” even if the matter was not included on the posted agenda.

2. The agency may take official action on a matter if it arose or was brought to its attention within 24 hours prior to the meeting, and the matter is de minimis in nature and not does not involve the expenditure of funds or entering into a contract or agreement.

3. If, during the meeting, a resident or taxpayer brings a matter to the attention of the agency, that is not listed on the agenda, the agency may refer the matter to staff for the purpose of researching the matter for inclusion on a future meeting agenda, or if the matter is de minimis in nature and not does not involve the expenditure of funds or entering into a contract or agreement, the agency may take official action on the matter.

4. The agency may also make a change to the posted agenda at the meeting upon majority vote of the individuals present and voting during the meeting to approve the agenda change. The reasons for amending the agenda must be announced at the meeting, and the amended agenda must be posted on the agency’s website, and at the agency’s principal office, no later than the first business day after the meeting.

Effective August 29, 2021, these new rules will require more careful advance preparation for public meetings to ensure that all agenda items are included in the advance agenda.