[HISTORY: Adopted by the Borough Council of the Borough of Catasauqua as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted 11-3-2008 by Ord. No. 1227]
The purpose of this policy is to assure compliance with Act 3 of 2008, the Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law, as amended; to provide access to public records of Catasauqua Borough; to preserve the integrity of Catasauqua Borough's records; and to minimize the financial impact to the residents of the Borough regarding the resources utilized in the receipt and processing of public record requests and the retrieval and copying of public records.
The Borough of Catasauqua hereby designates the Borough Manager as the Open Records Officer of the general Borough documents. As concerns all police documents, the Borough designates the Chief of Police of the Catasauqua Police Department as the Open Records Officer. It is the policy of the Borough to require the presence of a designated employee when public records are examined and inspected.
Further, the Borough will charge reasonable fees for the duplication of public records of the Borough or the Police Department.
In accord with the Right to Know Act, the Open Records Officer will comply with the following guidelines to the extent practical:
Upon receiving a request for a public record, the Open Records Officer shall:
The Borough Manager/Chief of Police may designate certain employee(s) to process public record requests.
All requests for public records of the Borough under this policy shall be specific in identifying and describing each public record requested. In no case shall the Borough be required to create a public record which does not exist or to compile, maintain, format or organize a public record in a manner in which the Borough does not currently compile, maintain, format or organize the public record. All requests for public records shall be submitted in writing on forms prepared and provided by the Borough, a copy of which is attached to this article, or on the form of the commonwealth's Office of Open Records. No other form will be accepted. All requests shall include the date of the request; requestor's name, address, and telephone number; certification of United States residency; signature of requestor; and, if duplication is requested, appropriate payment.
Editor's Note: A copy of the form is included at the end of this chapter.
The Open Records Officer, or designated employee, shall make a good faith effort to determine whether each record requested is a public record.
The Open Records Officer or designated employee shall respond to the requestor within five business days from the date of receipt of the written request. If the Borough does not respond within five business days of receipt thereof, the request is deemed denied.
The response provided by the Borough shall consist of:
Approval for access to the public record;
Redaction of portions of the public record; or
Request for additional time for the retrieval of the stored record in a remote location;
Inform the party that additional time will be necessary because of staffing limitation;
Inform the party that legal review is necessary to determine whether the record is subject to access under the Act; or
Request an extension of time from the requestor, in writing.
The fees for duplication of public records shall be as established by the commonwealth's Office of Open Records or the Borough of Catasauqua, whichever is greater. The Borough may, at its discretion, waive the fees.
In the event the estimated cost of fulfilling a request submitted under this policy is expected to exceed $100, the designated employee(s) shall obtain the expected cost in advance of fulfilling the request to avoid unwarranted expense of Borough resources.
Review of request.
If the request is being reviewed, the notice provided by the Borough shall be in writing and include the reason for the review and the expected response date, which shall be within 30 days of the notice of review. If the Borough does not respond within 30 days thereof, the request is deemed denied. Review of the request is limited to situations where:
The record requested contains information which is subject to access, as well as information which is not subject to access that must be redacted prior to a grant of access. The redacted information is considered a denial as to that information;
The record requires retrieval from a remote location;
A timely response cannot be accomplished due to staffing limitations;
A legal review is necessary to determine whether the record requested is a public record;
The requestor has failed to comply with the Borough's policy and procedure requirements; or
The requestor refuses to pay the applicable fees.
The extent or nature of the request precludes a response within the required time period.
Upon a determination that one of the factors listed above applies, the Borough shall send written notice to the requestor within five business days of receipt of the request for access. The notice shall include a statement notifying the requestor that the request for access is being reviewed, the reason for the review, a reasonable date that a response is expected to be provided and an estimate of applicable fees owed when the record becomes available. If the date that a response is expected to be provided is in excess of 30 days, following the five business days allowed for, the request for access shall be deemed denied unless the requestor has agreed in writing to an extension to the date specified in the notice. If the requestor agrees to the extension, the request shall be deemed denied on the day following the date specified in the notice if the agency has not provided a response by that date.
If access to the record requested is denied, the notice provided by the Borough shall be in writing as indicated on the form attached hereto entitled "Denial of Request to Review and/or Duplicate Catasauqua Borough Records."
Editor's Note: A copy of the form is included at the end of this chapter.
The Borough may:
Deny access to the public record under the provisions of Act 3 of 2008 including, but not limited to, failure to comply with the Borough's policies regarding access to records, and the requestor's refusal to pay applicable fees authorized by this Act;
Deny the record as it is one of the exceptions under Section 708 of the Public Records Act;
Deny the request as the record is protected by privilege;
Deny the request as the record is exempt from disclosure under any other federal or state law, regulation or judicial order or decree;
Deny the record as it is a disruptive request;
Deny the record as it may request information which could lead to disaster or potential damage.
Within 30 days of the mailing date of the final determination of the appeals officer, the requestor or Borough may file a petition for review or other document as required by rule of court with the Court of Common Pleas for Lehigh County. The decision of the court shall contain findings of fact and conclusions of law based upon the evidence as a whole. The decision shall clearly and concisely explain the rationale for the decision. A petition for review under this section shall stay the release of documents until a decision is issued.
This policy shall be available for review at the Borough office.