Town of Southold, NY
Suffolk County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Southold as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted 3-14-1978]

§ 59-1 Definitions.

The words and phrases used in these rules and regulations shall, for the purpose hereof, have the meanings respectively ascribed to them by Article 6 of the Public Officers Law.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Article 6 of the Public Officers Law is the Freedom of Information Law.

§ 59-2 Exceptions; records to be maintained.

A. 
Each Town agency shall, in accordance with these rules, make available for public inspection and copying all records, except that such agency may deny access to records or portions thereof that:
(1) 
Are specifically exempt from disclosure by state or federal statute.
(2) 
If disclosed, would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy under the provisions of Subdivision 2 of § 89 of the Public Officers Law.
(3) 
If disclosed, would impair present or imminent contract awards or collective bargaining negotiations.
(4) 
Are trade secrets or are maintained for the regulation of commercial enterprise, which if disclosed would cause substantial injury to the competitive position of the subject enterprise.
(5) 
Are compiled for law enforcement purposes and which, if disclosed, would:
(a) 
Interfere with law enforcement investigations or judicial proceedings.
(b) 
Deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or impartial adjudication.
(c) 
Identify a confidential source or disclose confidential information relating to a criminal investigation.
(d) 
Reveal criminal investigative techniques or procedures, except routine techniques and procedures.
(6) 
If disclosed, would endanger the life or safety of any person.
(7) 
Are interagency or intra-agency materials which are not:
(a) 
Statistical or factual tabulations or data.
(b) 
Instructions to staff that affect the public.
(c) 
Final agency policy or determinations.
(d) 
External audits, including but not limited to audits performed by the comptroller and the federal government.
[Added 5-14-1996 by L.L. No. 5-1996]
(8) 
Are examination questions or answers which are requested prior to the final administration of such questions.
(9) 
Are computer access codes.
[Added 5-14-1996 by L.L. No. 5-1996]
B. 
Each Town agency shall maintain the following:
(1) 
A record of the final vote of each member in every agency proceeding in which the member votes.
(2) 
A record setting forth the name, public office address, title and salary of every officer or employee of the agency.
(3) 
A reasonably detailed current list by subject matter of all records in the possession of the agency, whether or not available under Article 6 of the Public Officers Law.

§ 59-3 Designation of records access officer; duties.

A. 
The Town Board does hereby designate the Town Clerk as records access officer who shall have the duty of coordinating agency response to public requests for access to records. Such designation of the records access officer shall not be construed to prohibit officials who have in the past been authorized to make records or information available to the public from continuing to do so.
B. 
The records access officer is responsible for assuring that Town personnel:
(1) 
Maintain an up-to-date subject matter list.
(2) 
Assist the requester in identifying requested records, if necessary.
(3) 
Upon locating the records, take one of the following actions:
(a) 
Make records available for inspection.
(b) 
Deny access to the records in whole or in part and explain in writing the reasons therefor.
(4) 
Upon request for copies of records:
(a) 
Make a copy available upon payment or offer to pay established fees, if any.
(b) 
Permit the requester to copy those records.
(5) 
Upon request, certify that a record is a true copy.
(6) 
Upon failure to locate records, certify that:
(a) 
The Town agency is not the custodian for such records, or
(b) 
The records of which the Town agency is a custodian cannot be found after diligent search.

§ 59-4 Designation of records location.

Each Town agency shall designate the locations where records shall be available for public inspection and copying.

§ 59-5 Hours for public inspection.

A. 
Each Town agency shall accept requests for public access to records and produce records during all hours they are regularly open for business.
B. 
In Town agencies which do not have daily regular business hours, a written procedure shall be established by which a person may arrange an appointment to inspect and copy records. Such procedure shall include the name, position, address and phone number of the party to be contacted for the purpose of making an appointment.

§ 59-6 Requests for access.

A. 
A Town agency may require that a request be made in writing or may make records available upon oral request.
B. 
A Town agency shall respond to any request reasonably describing the record or records sought within five business days of receipt of the request.
C. 
A request shall reasonably describe the record or records sought. Whenever possible, a person requesting records should supply information regarding dates, file designations or other information that may help to describe the records sought.
D. 
If the Town agency does not provide or deny access to the record sought within five business days of receipt of a request, the agency shall furnish a written acknowledgment of receipt of the request and a statement of the approximate date when the request will be granted or denied. If access to records is neither granted nor denied within 10 business days after the date of acknowledgment of receipt of a request, the request may be construed as a denial of access that may be appealed.

§ 59-7 Maintenance of list of records by subject matter.

A. 
Each Town agency shall maintain a reasonably detailed current list by subject matter of all records in its possession, whether or not records are available pursuant to Subdivision 2 of § 87 of the Public Officers Law.
B. 
The subject matter list shall be sufficiently detailed to permit identification of the category of the record sought.
C. 
The subject matter list shall be updated not less than twice per year. The most recent update shall appear on the first page of the subject matter list.

§ 59-8 Denial of access; appeals.

A. 
The Town Board shall hear appeals or shall designate a person or body to hear appeals regarding denial of access to records under the Freedom of Information Law.
B. 
Denial of access shall be in writing stating the reason therefor and advising the person denied access of his or her right to appeal to the person or body established to hear appeals, and that person or body shall be identified by name, title, business address and business telephone number. The records access officer shall not be the appeals officer.
C. 
If a Town agency fails to respond to a request within five business days of receipt of a request as required in § 59-6 hereof, such failure shall be deemed a denial of access by the agency.
[Amended 5-14-1996 by L.L. No. 5-1996]
D. 
Any person denied access to records may appeal within 30 days of a denial.
E. 
The time for deciding an appeal shall commence upon receipt of written appeal identifying the following:
(1) 
The date and location of a request for records.
(2) 
The records that were denied.
(3) 
The name and return address of the appellant.
F. 
The Town Clerk shall transmit to the Committee on Public Access to Records, copies of all appeals upon receipt of an appeal. Such copies shall be addressed to the Committee on Public Access to Records, Department of State, 162 Washington Avenue, Albany, New York 12231.
G. 
The Town Board or the person or body designated to hear appeals shall inform the appellant and the Committee on Public Access to Records of its determination in writing, within 10 business days of receipt of an appeal. The determination shall be transmitted to the Committee on Public Access to Records in the same manner as set forth in Subsection F of this section.
[Amended 5-14-1996 by L.L. No. 5-1996]
H. 
A final denial of access to a requested record, as provided for in Subsection G of this section, shall be subject to court review, as provided for in Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules.

§ 59-9 Fees.

Except when a different fee is otherwise prescribed by law:
A. 
There shall be no fee charged for the following:
(1) 
Inspection of records.
(2) 
Search for records.
(3) 
Any certification pursuant to these rules.
B. 
A Town agency shall charge a fee for copies of records as follows:
(1) 
The fee for copying records shall be $0.25 per page for photocopies not exceeding nine inches by 14 inches.
(2) 
In Town agencies which do not have photocopying equipment, a transcript of the requested records shall be made upon request. Such transcripts may either be typed or handwritten. In such cases, the person requesting records may be charged for the clerical time involved in making the transcript.
(3) 
The fee for copies of records not covered by Subsection B(1) and (2) of this section shall not exceed the actual reproduction cost, which is the average unit cost for copying a record, excluding fixed costs of the agency such as operator salaries.

§ 59-10 Public notice required.

Each Town agency shall publicize by posting in a conspicuous location and/or by publication in a local newspaper of general circulation:
A. 
The location where records shall be made available for inspection and copying.
B. 
The name, title, business address and business telephone number of the designated records access officer.
C. 
The right to appeal by any person denied access to a record and the name and business address of the person or body to whom an appeal is to be directed.
[Adopted 8-10-1993 by L.L. No. 15-1993]

§ 59-11 Intent.

Records are essential to the administration of local government. They contain the information that keeps government programs functioning. It is the intent of this article that a records management program be established which will assist officials in making decisions, administering programs and providing administrative continuity with past operations. The program would be intended to document delivery services, show the legal responsibilities of government and protect the legal rights of citizens. It will contain information on taxation and on the management and expenditure of funds. These records will also document the historical document of government itself, the community and the people of the Town.

§ 59-12 Program established; designation of records management officer.

There shall be a records management program established under the aegis of the Town Clerk and headed by a records management officer. The Town Clerk is designated as the records management officer and will be responsible for administering the current and archived public records in storage areas for the Town in accordance with local, state and federal laws and guidelines.

§ 59-13 Definitions.

As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
ARCHIVES
Those official records which have been determined by the officer and advisory committee to have sufficient historical or other value to warrant the continued preservation by the Town.
RECORDS
Official files, minutes and documents, books, papers, photographs, sound recordings, microforms or any other materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received pursuant to law or in conjunction with the transaction of official Town business.
RECORDS CENTER
An establishment maintained by the records management officer for the storage, servicing, security and processing of records which must be preserved for varying periods of time.
RECORDS DISPOSITION
The removal by the Town, in accordance with approved records control schedules, of records no longer necessary for the conduct of business by such agency through removal methods which may include the disposition of temporary records by destruction or donation or the transfer of records to a central storage facility for temporary or permanent storage of records determined to have historical or other sufficient value warranting continued preservation or the transfer of records from one Town agency to another Town agency.
RECORDS MANAGEMENT
The planning, controlling, directing, organizing, training, promotion and other managerial activities involved in records creation, records maintenance and use and records disposition, including records preservation, records disposal and the records center or other storage facilities.
SERVICING
Making information in records available to any agency for official use or to the public.

§ 59-14 Powers and duties of records management officer.

The records management officer shall have all the necessary powers to carry out the efficient administration, determination of value, use, preservation, storage and disposition of the public records kept, filed or received by the officers and departments of the Town.
A. 
The records management officer shall continually survey and examine public records to recommend their classification so as to determine the most suitable method to be used for the maintaining, storing and servicing of the following:
(1) 
Obsolete and unnecessary records according to the New York State Records Retention and Disposition Schedules, thereby subject to disposition;
(2) 
Information containing administrative, legal, fiscal, research, historical or educational value which warrants its permanent retention; or
(3) 
Records not subject to disposition according to state law.
B. 
The records management officer shall establish guidelines for proper records management in any department of the Town government in accordance with local, state and federal laws and guidelines.
C. 
The records management officer shall operate a central records management storage facility for storage, processing and servicing of all Town records for all Town departments and agencies.
D. 
Additional requirements of the records management officer will include but are not limited to:
(1) 
The development of a comprehensive records management program.
(2) 
The conduct of an initial survey and analysis of all records.
(3) 
The encouragement and coordination of the continuous legal destruction of obsolete records through the adoption and use of the state archive record retention and distribution schedules.
(4) 
The development and a suitable retention period for records not covered by the New York State Records Retention and Distribution Schedules.
(5) 
The assistance to each department for the establishment of a records management system to support the overall Town records management program.
(6) 
The setting up and overseeing of a center for the storage of inactive records.
(7) 
The coordinating and carrying out or participating in the planning for development of advanced records management systems and equipment.

§ 59-15 Records Advisory Board.

There shall be a Records Advisory Board designated to work closely with and provide advice to the records management officer. The Board shall consist of the Town Historian, a member of the Town Board selected by the Supervisor, the Town Accountant and a department head. The Board shall meet periodically and have the following duties:
A. 
To provide advice to the records management officer on the development of the records management program.
B. 
To review the performance of the program on an ongoing basis and to propose changes and improvements.
C. 
To review retention periods proposed by the records management officer for records not covered by the state archive schedules.
D. 
To provide advice on the appraisal of records for archival value and to be the final sign-off entity as to what is or is not archival.

§ 59-16 Custody and control of records.

The records management officer shall maintain physical custody and the official responsibility for all records. Department heads shall retain constructive control and authority over all department records.

§ 59-17 Disposition of records.

No records shall be destroyed or otherwise disposed of by a department of the Town unless approval has been obtained from the records management officer. No records shall be destroyed or otherwise disposed of by the records management officer without the express written consent of the department head having authority.