[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Supervisors of the Township of Willistown as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Article I Public Access
[Adopted 1-19-2009 by Res. No. 10-2009]
Subject: public access to information.
Purpose: to establish policies and procedures for the release to the public of public records in the custody of Willistown Township pursuant to the Right-to-Know Law, the Act of February 14, 2008, P.L. 6, No. 3, § 101, 65 P.S. § 67.101 et. seq.
Scope: applies to all boards, commissions, committees, officials and employees of the Township.
It is the policy of Willistown Township to afford any individual or business the opportunity to examine or copy public records at reasonable hours and places.
The Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law requires municipalities to provide access to public records, which is specifically defined by the law. The Right-to-Know Law now defines "public records" to include financial accounts, minutes, orders or decisions, regardless of physical form or characteristics. In addition, other Pennsylvania laws provide that specific information, such as permit applications, are available to the public. It is the Township's intent to conform to all state laws governing the access to public records.
Information may be examined or copied in the form available to the Township at the Township's municipal building. The Township is not required to sort information, extract data or prepare reports in formats which are not in the Township's possession. The Township is not required to release public records to the custody of the others.
The Township has appointed an Open Records Officer who is responsible for ensuring that the public has proper access to public records in the custody of the Township.
Requests to view public records must be made by written application on a form supplied to the Township or the Commonwealth's Office of Open Records and sent to the attention of the Open Records Officer. It is the intent of the Township to grant or deny requests for access to public records without undue delay, subject to a response time of five working days, unless the Township notifies the requester within said period of a delay in providing a response or production of the records as allowed under the law. The delay in providing a response or producing the records is limited to 30 days from the date of the request, unless the requester grants the Township an extension. The Township will not honor on-the-spot requests, unless the Open Records Officer determines that the information is readily available. If the request is granted, it is the responsibility of the Open Records Officer to advise the requester promptly of the time at which documents will be available for viewing or copying.
If a citizen is denied access, the Open Records Officer will notify the requester of the reason. In the notification of denial, the Open Records Officer will inform the requester of his/her right to appeal the decision to the Office of Open Records within 15 working days from the date of mailing the notice of denial.
In order to protect the security of material in the possession of the Township, file reviews may be monitored.
The Township hereby adopts as its fee schedule for any public records request the following:
Copies are charged on a $0.25 per page per side (8 1/2 x 11) basis. Pennsylvania sales tax will be added to charges for copying documents.
If a public record is only maintained electronically or in other nonpaper media, and the requester asks for the record in that media, duplication fees shall be the cost incurred by the Township to supply the necessary device required to transfer the public record in that media. (In order to maintain the security of the Township's electronic files, the Township reserves the right to require the requester to receive the public record on a transfer device purchased by the Township.)
Postage fee not to exceed actual mailing costs.
Requests for certification shall be charged $1 per document regardless of the amount of pages. Each document requires separate certification and fee.
All third party charges incurred by the Township necessary to fulfill the request; with the exception of legal fees incurred to determine if records are public records.
Township employee hourly rate for the time spent fulfilling the request; with the exception of time spent reviewing a record to determine if it is a public record and making duplications.
If any of the above established fees is preempted by a fee schedule established by the Office of Open Records, the Township shall charge the fee established by the Office of Open Records. To the extent possible, the Open Records Officer will make the direct charges known to the requester before the request if filled, and advise the requester if personnel costs will be charged. If the total charge exceeds $100, the requester will be required to pay costs before the documents are prepared.
A schedule of all current fees is to be available from the Open Records Officer.
The conditions under which a requester may review public records in the control of the Township are subject to the procedures and policies established by the Township based on the time and location of the requester's review and the materials to be reviewed.
The Township has appointed a Deputy Open Records Officer who is responsible for ensuring that the public has proper access to public records in the custody of the Township when the Open Records Officer is unable to perform the duties assigned to the position under the Right-to-Know Law or this article. During the time the Deputy Open Records Officer performs any of the duties of the Open Records Officer, the Deputy Open Records Officer shall follow the policies and procedures described in this article.
Policy is effective on the 19th day of January, 2009.