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Bel-Ridge municipal building

Municipal complex in Bel-Ridge in a Google Street View image

JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri attorney general's office said Monday it had settled a lawsuit with the north St. Louis County municipality of Bel-Ridge over alleged Sunshine Law violations.

The lawsuit, filed in June 2018, accused the town of 2,700 of repeatedly failing to provide proper notice of closed meetings. The suit also accused Bel-Ridge officials of using closed meetings to discuss topics that should have been open to the public.

According to a consent order, signed by St. Louis County Circuit Judge Kristine Kerr last month, the mayor, Board of Aldermen, clerk and deputy clerk agreed to take an attorney general's office Sunshine Law seminar.

The city also agreed to audio record its Board of Alderman meetings, post online notices of meetings 24 hours in advance, and close meetings only when allowed by the Sunshine Law, according to a news release.

The judgement also allows the attorney general's office to review the town's records and allows the court to fine Bel-Ridge $1,000 for each additional violation of the Sunshine Law.

"We will take action wherever possible to ensure that citizens are able to properly follow what their government is doing," Attorney General Eric Schmitt, a Republican, said in a statement.

The lawsuit, filed by then-Attorney General Josh Hawley, outlined alleged violations from June 2017 to February 2018.

Mayor Willie Fair said Monday he is trying to correct the city's course after winning office in April 2018 following a hotly contested election.

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"We are doing our best," he said. "We're trying to straighten out a lot of things."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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