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Public Notice FAQ

What are public notices?
Public notices are notifications to taxpayers and citizens, as established by state statutes or by order of a court. They are also sometimes referred to as "legal notices."

Why are they published in newspapers of ‘general circulation’?
Public notices must be actively disseminated to taxpayers and citizens who may be affected by the information contained in the notice. All government records are intended to be open and “available,” but only if people know where to search. The information in public notices is so essential to an informed citizenry that it needs to be published and made accessible and discoverable.

Shouldn’t public notices be placed on the internet?
They are. When notices are published in newspapers, they are also then posted and available on the internet. If you search for ‘Wyoming public notices,’ one of the top results is this website, which strives to post every notice published in Wyoming newspapers. Individual newspapers also post notices to their individual websites and many also provide a link to this public notice website.

Couldn’t the government just do this itself?
A fundamental purpose of public notices is to help ensure that government is held accountable and that requires an independent third-party. Traditionally, for decades public notices have been published in newspapers as that independent third-party — to create a verifiable record of the date they were published and show that the content met legal requirements. Without such verification, elected officials and the government entities would be accountable only to themselves.

Is this the best use of my tax dollars?
Yes. Wyoming newspapers are strong proponents of the three key requirements for open government — open records, open meetings, and public notices. These are the citizens’ tools for reducing fraud, waste and abuse in their government, and in the long run they save taxpayer dollars. In Wyoming, newspapers are required by law not to exceed their lowest publishing rates for public notices. The cost of transparency and publishing notices in newspapers represents such a very small amount to government. For counties and municipalities, in every case, it’s less than one-half of one percent of annual operating budgets.

In Wyoming, public notices must be published in a newspaper of general circulation within the county where the government unit or court is located.