Original Author: Moore, Todd
Date of Material: 04/18/1995
Meetings--Planning and management
Open meetings--Laws and regulations
Purchasing--Bids, proposals and specifications
Reviewed Date: 04/26/2021
MTAS was asked whether the authorization of a sealed bid for the purchase of property would have to be done by ordinance of the board of mayor and aldermen at public meetings.
This letter is in response to the question you and the board had regarding the applicability of the Sunshine Law to a situation where the city might want to submit a sealed bid on a parcel of property. As you know, the Public Meetings Act provides that "[a]ll meetings of any governing body are declared to be public meetings open to the public at all times, except as provided by the Constitution of Tennessee." T.C.A. § 8-44-102. Under the town's charter, the authorization of a sealed bid for the purchase of property would have to be done by ordinance of the board of mayor and aldermen at public meetings. The statute is clear that the Sunshine Law applies to such meetings.
The overriding policy of the Sunshine Law is that "the formation of public policy and decisions is public business and shall not be conducted in secret." T.C.A. § 8-44-101(a). There are no exceptions to this policy in the statute or caselaw that would allow the town to make such a decision in private. I realize that the Sunshine Law ties the town's hands in a situation like this, however, I do not know of any way that the city could authorize its bid in secret and not be in violation of the law.
I enjoyed meeting with you and the rest of board a couple of weeks ago. If you have any questions regarding this matter, your code of ordinances, or any matter please let me know.