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Public Notice Issues Flare

Two issues have arisen on public notices in Maryland. In one, Prince George's County citizens will be able to vote on a charter amendment to reduce the number of newspapers of record in their county. In the other, a relatively new company, www.realauctions.com, offers counties and municipalities an online portal for their foreclosure and tax lien auctions. MDDC is monitoring both situations.

In Prince George’s county, there is a referendum question on the November ballot that will change the number of newspapers of record from three to “one or more”. The full language is: “To change the number of designated newspapers of record from three to one or more; and to designate two or more primary sources of County maintained electronic media available to the public for publication and transmission of official County notices with notice on county websites.” The MDDC Government Affairs committee is concerned about limiting public notice in any way as well as the threats to independence of public notice through publication on a county website.

RealAuction.com provides online auction services to counties and municipalities. In Maryland, they are running the tax lien auctions for Charles and Harford counties. In other states, most notably New Jersey, lax laws allowing the option of online notice are undermining public notice in newspapers. Recently, New Jersey municipalities have begun informing their official newspapers that they’ll be posting their ads to the RealAuction.com website and only running four (4) 2x3 display ads to refer the official newspapers’ readers to the site. The MDDC Government Affairs committee will monitor this situation.

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