Public Records Laws In IdahoPosted Wednesday, January 20, 2010, at 9:44 AM
Laws For The Many Or The Few? You decide.
This is what I found interesting.
(a) A public agency or independent public body corporate and politic or public official may establish a copying fee schedule. The fee may not exceed the actual cost to the agency of copying the record if another fee is not otherwise provided by law. The actual cost shall not include any administrative or labor costs resulting from locating and providing a copy of the public record; provided however, that a public agency or independent public body corporate and politic or public official may establish a fee to recover the actual labor cost associated with locating and copying documents if:
(i) The request is for more than one hundred (100) pages of paper records; or
(ii) The request includes records from which nonpublic information must be deleted; or
(iii) The actual labor associated with locating and copying documents for a request exceeds two (2) person hours.
Question No. 10: What fees may be charged for the cost of copying public records?
Answer: The concept of the law is that examination and copying of public records is part of the public business, already funded by taxpayers. Under section 9-338(8)(a) of the public records statute, an agency may establish a copying fee schedule which "may not exceed the actual cost to the agency of copying the record . . . ." The section contains an exception to preserve fees already established by other laws, such as recorders' fees.
Question No. 12: What fees may be charged for any labor costs incurred in locating, redacting, copying, and providing access to public records?
Answer: Effective July 1, 1997, agencies may establish a fee to recover such labor costs for voluminous or complex requests, or requests that involve locating archival information. Idaho Code § 9-338(8).
NOTE: Following is the WECRD's "policy" (DIRECTLY FROM THE WECRD WEB SITE---http://www.wecrdgov.org/pdf/2009/copy%20fee%20policy.pdf) with respect to copy/labor charges which is vague at best and does not state what hourly rate will be charged to the public for "voluminous, complex requests, etc."
Therefore, the Western Elmore County Recreation District accepts the following as policy for satisfying requests for information:
1) For clarification purposes, the individual(s) should submit a written request of what documents are requested, including the name, date, mailing address, and telephone
2) The individual(s) may examine copies of said documents on the WECRD premises or the individual(s) may take copies from the office for the standard copy fee of ten cents (10¢) per black and white page.
3) If the material is expected to exceed 100 pages, explanation shall be made to the requesting individual that the charge will be higher and will be determined by the amount of time needed to complete the request.
4) The WECRD will make every effort to fill the request within 3 working days. If a longer period of time is needed to retrieve and copy the material, the WECRD shall notify the requester in writing and shall provide the material to the person within 10 working days from the request.
Question No. 13: Are all members of the public required to pay copying fees and labor costs?
Answer: Section 9-338(8)(c) of the 1997 amendments to the law allows an agency to waive any cost or fee for copies or labor when the requester demonstrates either an inability to pay or "That the public's interest or the public's understanding of the operations or activities of government or its records would suffer by the assessment or collection of any fee.
So, in short the message is this. Buyer beware. You could go into the WECRD office with a fairly simple records request and be charged an arm and a leg as well as your first born for the information. Fair? Just? I do not believe so. I firmly believe it was an attempt on the WECRD's part to hide/keep "PUBLIC INFORMATION" from the public eye. Nice try!
When I asked Judy, the WECRD Secretary, why the labor charge was so high she stated that she "had to get her computer out of the vault, set it up, etc. All of these things take time." The problem with this is that most of my requests were for information that should have been readily available---on the spot---since most of it was regarding the WECRD's financials. Since the WECRD just had an audit a good portion of my requests were directly related to the audit and the audit report. Seems like a volunteer COULD have put together most of the information for FREE (other than the cost to copy). You run an ad in the MHN each week that states volunteers will do "research." What a great way for your volunteers to really learn what goes on within the WECRD. Then again, if the volunteers really know what went on in the WECRD office, there would be no volunteers.
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I have lived in Mountain Home for over 11 years now. I love to be outdoors in wide open spaces (as long as it does not involve camping...in a tent and an out house). I dislike Government waste/abuse of tax dollars and "sky is the limit" spending by those that we elect to represent "us." I value free speech when what is stated is factual (as opposed to lies, gossip and un-truths). I love the Chicago White Sox (I never said I was perfect) and the Broncos are okay too! I am 38 years old and married to a guy who is active duty USAF (and a Cubs fan...he is the "perfect" one). I am anti-nuclear and against further desecration of our planet with waste that we can do little to nothing with. If you dislike blunt, this is not the blog for you. Enjoy!
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