Steelton’s borough manager and Council president both admitted that meeting minutes do not exist for 2015 and much of 2014 during a heated session Monday night.
“It is sort of surprising,” attorney and media law expert Craig Staudenmaier said. “I think this might be the first time I’ve heard of an agency not consistently keeping their minutes.”
The Sunshine Act requires public agencies to maintain meeting minutes as public records.
“Part of the reason we have a Sunshine Act and we have an Open Records Law is so the citizenry can keep tabs on government officials,” Staudenmaier said.
But citizens wanting to keep tabs on Steelton have not been able to get a hold of meeting minutes since March 2014. At the Council meeting, borough manager Sara Gellatly said someone will be paid to compile minutes for that time period.
When asked by the public who that person was, Gellatly refused to give a name. She did say that person will make $150 per session recorded, which would translate to $4,800 just for the missing Council minutes. That number does not include the cost of compiling missing Authority minutes or of keeping future minutes.
One of Steelton’s Council members told ABC 27 she offered to keep the minutes free of charge. Another woman who lives in Steelton and regularly attends meetings expressed the same sentiment. She asked Council why tax dollars should pay for someone to do this service when people have volunteered. No one answered her question.
Gellatly also refused to answer questions about an investigation into Steelton’s codes office. A recent report by ABC 27’s Dennis Owens found Gellatly and Steelton’s police chief have been signing off on building permits, even though they’re not certified codes officers.
“It seems like every meeting it’s the same questions and we still don’t have the answers,” Council member Denae House pointed out.