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The costs of posting local meeting agendas [Google+ Hangout]

August 17, 2012 | 10:50 am

The Times will host a Google+ Hangout on the state's costs to notify the public about local meetings with reporter Chris Megerian and City Editor Shelby Grad at 11 a.m.

Local governments must alert residents about what will be discussed in public meetings and when they will take place, according to a decades-old state requirement. But some cities and counties are charging the state high prices to prepare and post agendas publicly.

Although guidelines on reimbursements are set by the state, there is little consistency to the accounting methods used by municipalities to calculate bills, and some are billing the state at much higher rates than their neighbors, according to a Times review of claims filed this year.

For example, it apparently costs more to process agendas at the city of Los Angeles than at the county of Los Angeles, according to the records. Each entity said it took employees 30 minutes to complete each item on each agenda for meetings held by city council members or county supervisors. The city charged the state $95.42 an hour, nearly twice the county's rate of $53.94.

The city billed the state $336,067 for 1,182 meetings in the 2010-11 fiscal year. The county, which held 3,421 meetings, more than any other municipality or agency, billed $188,749. It had the lowest average per-meeting cost in the state of $55.17.

Local governments say they're just following the rules to secure the funding they're entitled to. But Gov. Jerry Brown is tired of having the state foot the bill, and his tax measure includes a provision that would prevent cities, counties and other agencies from passing on the cost to Sacramento.

We invite you to join in on the conversation by posting comments below or onto The Times’ Facebook and Google Plus pages or on Twitter using the #asklatimes hashtag.


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