Public Records Act Correspondence
Feb 2, 2017 Eric Johnson Correspondence to Port Directors Email from WPPA
It appears that many, if not all, local governments in Washington have received the email below from an outfit in Florida. Several of you have contacted me to ask about this request. I have the following advice:
- The information being asked for is legally disclosable under the Public Records Act. However, the PRA does not require you to create a new record (by re-formatting, or creating a new spreadsheet, for example) . You may decide that the easiest way to respond is to create a new record, but you do not need to.
- The first step is to respond to the requestor within five days, telling them that you have received their request. At that time you have three additional options: 1) Provide the requested record with the acknowledgment, 2) Indicate approximately how long it will take for you to provide the records, or 3) clarify the request.
- If these records are not electronic, you can choose to scan them into a .pdf document and let the requestor sort through them. You can charge the requestor for the costs of scanning. If you do not have a scanning fee already adopted, you can ask a local vendor what they would charge to scan the documents, and use that amount as the basis for your fee. If there is more than one vendor, two or three quotes would be a good practice. You should document this amount. This is allowed under the state’s Model Rules for the PRA. You can find these rules in WAC 44.14. Section 07003 of those rules explains very clearly how to do this.
- If you charge to scan the documents, you may invoice the requestor for a deposit of ten percent of the payment before you scan the records. Once the scanning is complete,you may request full payment for the remaining costs prior to providing the records. This authority is found in WAC 44.14.07006.
I hope this is useful to you. Contact me if you have questions. The link to the WAC noted above is http://app.leg.wa.gov/wac/default.aspx?cite=44-14
Also, if you choose to charge for scanning, it would be a good practice to adopt that policy at a port commission meeting, if you have not already.
Records Access Officer:
Pursuant to the Public Records Act, this is a request for a copy of the following records: An electronic copy of any and all employees for years of 2016, (fiscal or calendar year). Each employee record should contain the employer name, employer zip code, year of compensation, first name, middle initial, last name, hire date (mm-dd-yyyy), base salary amount, bonus amount, overtime amount, gross annual wages and position title. This data should be broken down by employer, employee and year.
The principal purpose of this is to make this information more accessible to the public and to access and disseminate information regarding the health, safety, and welfare of the general public. This request is not principally for personal or commercial benefit. Our agency is just exercising the general rights of the public. For these reasons, we are requesting a waiver of fees. If there is a charge for this service, please obtain my approval in writing prior to proceeding with request.
All documents can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed in electronic format (preferred format would be .csv or .xls). If any documents are not provided in the format specified, please provide the state or federal statutes relied upon for that decision. If any record or portion of a record responsive to this request is contained in a record or portion of a record deemed unresponsive to the request, I would like to inspect the entire document. Under the Open Records Act/Freedom of Information Act, all non-exempt portions of any partially-exempt documents must be disclosed. If any records or portions of records are withheld, please state the exemption on which you rely, the basis on which the exemption is invoked, and the name of the individual responsible for the decision.
Thank you for your prompt consideration of my request. If you have any questions, or if I can be of any assistance, please e-mail me at email@example.com
P.O. Box 970999
Boca Raton, FL 33497-0999
Eric D. Johnson / Executive Director
Washington Public Ports Association
Public Records Act
In 1972 the voters in state of Washington adopted Initiative 276, which required that most records maintained by state, county, and city governments be made available to members of the public. The public disclosure statutes have been frequently revised over the past three decades. The latest revision of the disclosure statutes are found in chapter 42.56 RCW, and are referred to as the Public Records Act. Although the public records disclosure statutes do not apply to judicial records (case files), the legislature has specifically extended their coverage to state legislative records. In addition, the public records disclosure statutes apply equally to “every county, city, town, municipal corporation, quasi-municipal corporation, or special purpose district” or “any office, department, division, bureau, board, commission, or agency thereof, or other local public agency.”
Public Records Act Reference Documents
Public Records Act for Washington Cities, Counties, and Special Purpose Districts
Public Records Act Copyright © 2016 by MRSC. All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means or stored in a database or retrieval system without the prior written permission of the publisher; however, governmental entities in the state of Washington are granted permission to reproduce and distribute this publication for official use. MRSC 2601 Fourth Avenue, Suite 800 Seattle, WA 98121-1280 (206) 625-1300 (800) 933-6772 www.MRSC.org March 2016 $30
Public Records Act Court Decisions
Benton County v. Zink, ___ Wn. App ___ (11/10/2015) – Ms. Zink made a public records request to the county, seeking records in electronic format. Although some of the records were available electronically, not all were. Given the size of the request and the fact that some records would need to be redacted, the county was unable to provide the records using its own staff and equipment. The county sought quotes from outside vendors and offered the records at 25 cents per page, the amount it would be charged by the lowest cost vendor. To honor Ms. Zink’s request, some records would need to be copied, some content redacted, then scanned, thus creating a new record that would need to be stored. Ms. Zink objected and indicated that the county had to provide the records without the per page charge. The county sought a declaratory judgment to determine its obligations.
The trial court concluded that the county could hire an outside firm to create the requested electronic documents and charge Ms. Zink for the cost of the work, the county is not required to pay someone to create additional records for records it already has in paper form, and it is not required to create or pay for additional records it already possesses in electronic form. Ms. Zink appealed, and the court affirmed. After resolving a standing issue, the court concluded that the county had no obligation to create electronic records, and that it could engage an outside service provider to create electronic copies and then charge Ms. Zink for the cost.
Public Records Act Sections Applicable to Port of Illahee PRA Resolution
Duty to publish procedures.
Documents and indexes to be made public.
Facilities for copying—Availability of public records.
Times for inspection and copying—Posting on web site.
Protection of public records—Public access.
Charges for copying.
Training—Public records officers.
Prompt responses required.
Public records officers.
Port of Illahee Public Records Act Resolution and Interim Policy
Resolution 2016-2 Interim Policy for Public Records Act (PRA) Requests