Erie County Council is catching heat after allegedly violating the Sunshine Act by holding private meetings regarding the proposed 2023 budget.

Brian Shank, Erie County Council chairman, said the meeting that was held did discuss the proposed 2023 budget but in a fashion that would not require votes.

According to the Erie Times News, council solicitor Tom Talarico informed Erie County Council that their Nov. 12 work session meeting would violate the Sunshine Act as their plan to discuss the proposed 2023 budget was not advertised.

“If you’re actually having a hearing or an actual meeting, yes that is correct. We would advertise which we always do. For a work session, it’s a closed-door work session. It’s exactly that where we just sit down with our pencils and paper and kind of come up with a game plan and no votes. That’s the big thing. There is no voting whatsoever going on,” said Brian Shank, Erie County Council chairman.

The chairman said the work session only reviewed the action sheets of the proposed budget to determine how it would function.

“We look at all the action sheets. The action sheets are put together. They come together and we kind of put them in order and what should we put in and what should we put out,” Shank added.

Shank said the work session was also held to discuss in-house matters regarding the county council.

“Probably 80% or better is all personnel issues so the media and the general public would be asked to leave anyway,” said Shank.

Shank added that the throughout the workings of the county council, the first session is simply a work session with no votes and no money involved. We reached out to Talarico and Jay Stranahan, the deputy solicitor, but both chose not to comment.