Attorney General's Opinion 1974-75 #568


May 7, 1975

Member, Senate of Virginia

74-75 568

This is in reply to your recent letter wherein you make the following inquiry regarding executive meetings of the Amelia County Board of Supervisors:

"Please advise (1) whether the Board of Supervisors can hold an executive or closed session without a recorded vote, and (2) whether or not the Board of Supervisors can consider the general budget (aside from personnel matters) in a closed meeting."

The Virginia Freedom of Information Act, in §2.1-343, Code of Virginia (1950), as amended, provides that all meetings of governmental bodies shall be open to the public unless specifically exempted by §§2.1-344, 2.1-345 or other provisions of law. Section 2.1-344, after providing authority for executive meetings for the purposes specified in subsections (a)(1)-(6), provides in subsection (b):

"(b) No meeting shall become an executive or closed meeting unless there shall have been recorded in open meeting an affirmative vote to that effect by the public body holding such meeting, which motion shall state specifically the purpose or purposes hereinabove set forth in this section which are to be the subject of such meeting." (Emphasis added.)

I am, therefore, of the opinion that, prior to holding any executive meeting authorized by §2.1-344(a)(1)-(6) or other provisions of law, governmental bodies are required to meet in open session and vote affirmatively upon a motion to go into executive session, which motion must state the specific purpose for which the executive session will be held.

Your second inquiry has been the subject of an official opinion to the Honorable Philin H. Miller, County Attorney for Augusta County, dated April 10, 1974, and found in Report of the Attorney General (1973-1974) at 450. In that opinion I advised that discussion of budgetary matters in general may not be undertaken in executive session, recognizing, however, that certain specific subjects related to budgetary considerations may be appropriate for executive discussion as provided by the provisions of §2.1-344(a)(1)-(6).