(A resolution adopting a City wide public records request policy)
WHEREAS, the City is required by the Oregon Public Records Law (ORS 192.410-505) to have a written public records policy;
WHEREAS, the City Council desires to adopt a standardized policy addressing the procedure for public records requests of non-exempt records and to be in compliance with the Oregon Public Records Law.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Hood River City Council that the following public records policy is adopted:
Section 1. Records Custodian. The City Recorder is the records custodian for the City. All public records requests are processed through the City Recorder, except with respect to Police Department records. The Police Department is responsible for receiving and responding to all records and information searches and requests pertaining to police department records. The Police Chief is responsible for adopting a policy consistent with the Oregon Public Records Law and applicable state and federal regulations.
Section 2. Right and Opportunity to Inspect Public Records.
A. Every person has a right to inspect any non-exempt public record held by a public body. Requests to inspect or copy such records must be made under the Oregon Public Records Law and in accordance with this policy. All requests must be in writing and submitted using the form provided by the City Recorder.
B. The City shall provide reasonably opportunities for inspection and examination of City records during usual business hours. Reasonable opportunity does not mean the time frame set by the requestor, so long as the City provides access to the non-exempt records within a reasonable period of time. All records shall be inspected at City offices and copies provided by City staff. No records may be removed from City offices, except by City staff.
C. Staff shall respond to requests for public records within a reasonable time. It is the policy of the City generally not to postpone or disrupt current and on-going matters of City business to provide staff time for inspection or copying of non-exempt public records.
D. The City Recorder will provide a certified copy of the requested record(s) if requested by the requestor. A certified copy means a copy of the record accompanied by a cover sheet signed by the City Recorder stating that the copy is a true and correct copy.
E. Electronic records will be provided in the form requested, if available. If not available in the form requested, the records will be provided in the form in which they are maintained.
F. The City is not obligated to create a public record. This applies such as when the record does not exist, or to compiling more than one record to create one document.
Section 3. Integrity of City Records.
A. City Staff shall take reasonable measures to preserve the integrity of City records in accordance with the Public Records Law and any procedures adopted by the City Recorder.
B. The Public Records Law allows for the inspection of original records; it does not include the right to rummage through file cabinets of file folders. However, a Department Head may allow public inspection of non-exempt records in a City file folder.
C. Only non-exempt documents are available for public inspection. City Staff shall always review a document before releasing it to make sure it does not contain exempt information. If there is any doubt as to whether the document or material within the document is exempt or not, the record should be reviewed by the City Attorney who will make the determination.
Section 4. Procedure for Responding to Public Records Requests.
A. Completed Public Records Request forms are submitted to the City Recorder.
B. If the records are not in the custody of the City Recorder, the City Recorder will forward the request to the appropriate Department Head. If there is more than one department involved, the City Recorder will assign one of the departments the responsibility of coordinating the response to the request.
C. A written response to the request must be made in a reasonable time. Generally, the City will respond to a complete Public Records Request form within 3 business days. Additional time may be necessary to respond to requests for records that may be included with exempt material, be physically extensive, or legally complex.
D. The written response must include at least one of the following:
1. A statement that the City is not in possession of the requested records.
2. A request from the City asking for clarification from the requestor.
3. A statement that copies of the requested records are available and will be provided upon payment of an enclosed billing.
4. A statement that the City is in possession of at least some of the records, the amount of time the City needs to make the records available, and a cost estimate of providing the records. If the cost estimate exceeds $25.00, the written response must state that the City will not proceed with processing the request until the City receives payment of the cost estimate.
5. A statement that the City is uncertain if it is in possession of the records and the amount of time the City needs to search for the records; or
6. A statement that the public records are exempt from public disclosure under state and/or federal law.
D. The Public Records Request form, all correspondence between the City and the requestor, the City’s response, and a copy or list of the records provided shall be maintained by the City Recorder.
E. If the Department Head responding to the request believes the request may be related to potential litigation, the City Recorder will provide a copy or list of all records provided to the City Attorney.
Section 5. Inspection and Copying of Public Records.
A. Inspection of public records occurs during business hours on City business premises. Original records may not leave the custody of the City. A City staff member must be present while any records are inspected to ensure protection of the records. There may be no more than 2 persons plus 1 staff member in the room to inspect the records. If any person attempts to alter, remove, or destroy any records, the City staff will immediately terminate the review and notify the City Attorney or City Manager.
B. All records are copied by staff either on City premises or by a third party designated by staff when the records are voluminous or difficult to copy using City equipment. As noted above, if a record is maintained in a machine readable or electronic form, the City shall provide the records in the form requested, if readily available. If not available, the records shall be provided in the form they are maintained.
Section 6. Fees for City Records; Deposit and Payment Requirements.
A. The City Council has established a fee schedule to reimburse the City for actual costs in responding to public records request by Resolution 98-4, which fee schedule is updated annually. The fees are estimated to recover the actual costs of responding to the request and producing the records. Total actual costs include the time spent by staff in locating the requested
records, reviewing the records in order to delete exempt records, supervising the inspection of the original documents, and administrative overhead.
B. Copies of routine materials requested by any City public official will be furnished without charge if the request relates to information needed in the requestor’s official capacity.
C. If the estimated cost is $25.00 or more, the City requires a deposit in the full amount of the estimated costs before expending additional City resources on the request. City staff will begin work on the request upon receipt of the deposit in full. If the actual cost of completing the request exceeds the estimate, the City will not release the search results until the City’s actual costs are received in full. If the actual cost of responding to the request is less than the estimated cost, then the balance of the deposit will be refunded with the results of the request.
C. If the estimated cost is less than $25.00, the City staff will begin work on the request and will present a bill for the City’s actual cost upon completion of work on the response. Results of the request and copies of records will not be provided until the total costs are paid in full.
Section 7. Fee Waiver/Reduction.
A. Copies of records may be provided without cost, or at a reduced cost, if the City Manager determines that a waiver or reduction of fees is in the public interest because making the records available primarily benefits the general public.
1. A person requesting a fee waiver or reduction must file a written request, which must include the requestor’s name and address, the purpose for which the records are sought, the character of the information and the reasons in support of the waiver or reduction. The City Manager will review the request and may also consider the requestor’s ability to pay and the financial hardship on the City that would arise from granting a waiver or reduction.
2. The decision of the City Manager is final, subject to the appeal rights in ORS 192.440.
B. Copies of meeting agendas and agenda packets for all City meetings will be provided in black and white at no cost to the requestor prior to or at the meeting if the total number of pages is less than 100. For agenda packets over 100 pages, black and white copies will be provided at a cost of $.25 per page, not to exceed $10.00, if the request is made prior to the meeting. Maps larger than 11x17 and color copies will be charged per the fee schedule. If the request is made after the meeting, the request is processed as any other public records request.
C. Records in response to news media requests will be provided at no charge provided that responding to the request does not require more than 15 minutes of staff time. These types of requests generally request current, routine or readily available documents. All other records requests will be processed as any other public records request.
Approved by the Hood River City Council the 14 day of December, 2009, to take effect immediately.
Arthur Babitz, Mayor
Jennifer McKenzie, City Recorder