FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-10-06
October 25, 2006
Virginia Blue Ridge Railway Trail Foundation
Piney River, Virginia
The staff of the Freedom of Information Advisory Council is authorized to issue advisory opinions. The ensuing staff advisory opinion is based solely upon the information presented in your letter dated September 30, 2006.
Dear Mr. Scott:
You have asked whether the Virginia Blue Ridge Railway Trail Foundation, Inc. (the Foundation) is a public body subject to the requirements of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). You indicate that the Foundation is a non-profit entity that was established by private citizens in 1998 for the purpose of trying to establish a hiking, biking, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing trail for public use in Amherst and Nelson Counties. The Foundation nominates its own Board members through a Nominating Committee. The Foundation voluntarily provides advice and services to the Counties on matters related to the trail, including helping to draft grant proposals, to evaluate engineers who will help design the trail, to clear and maintain the trail, and to help prioritize the trail construction process. You indicate that funding for the Foundation is received solely from individuals and corporations. You also indicated that the Foundation temporarily held title to a parcel of land purchased by Nelson County at the County's request. The Foundation sold a building on the property, gave the sale proceeds to the County, and transferred title to the balance of the property to the County. The Foundation did not receive any funds as part of this transaction.
FOIA defines a public body to mean any legislative body, authority, board, bureau, commission, district or agency of the Commonwealth or of any political subdivision of the Commonwealth, including cities, towns and counties, municipal councils, governing bodies of counties, school boards and planning commissions; boards of visitors of public institutions of higher education; and other organizations, corporations or agencies in the Commonwealth supported wholly or principally by public funds. It shall include ... any committee, subcommittee, or other entity however designated, of the public body created to perform delegated functions of the public body or to advise the public body. It shall not exclude any such committee, subcommittee or entity because it has private sector or citizen members. The Foundation is not a legislative body, authority, board, bureau, commission, district or agency of the Commonwealth or of any political subdivision of the Commonwealth. The Foundation is not wholly or principally supported by public funds. The Foundation is not a committee, subcommittee, or other entity of any public body. The Foundation does act to advise and aid public bodies, but it does so solely on a voluntary basis. Therefore the Foundation is not a public body as defined in FOIA, and is not subject to the requirements of FOIA.
Thank you for contacting this office. I hope that I have been of assistance.
Maria J.K. Everett
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