[HISTORY: Adopted by the Borough Council of the Borough of New Hope 1-16-2009 by Ord. No. 2009-01. Amendments noted where applicable.]
This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "New Hope Borough Open Records Ordinance."
The purpose of this chapter is to comply with and advance the policies set forth in the Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law, 65 P.S. § 67.101, as amended. The policies are those set forth in the Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law and include, but are not limited to, the following:
Provide access to the public records of New Hope Borough;
Preserve the integrity of New Hope Borough's records; and
Minimize the financial impacts to the residents and businesses of New Hope Borough regarding the resources utilized in the receipt and processing of requests for public records and the retrieval and copying of public records.
In accordance with Section 502 of the Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law, New Hope Borough is required to designate a New Hope Borough employee as the Open Records Officer of New Hope Borough. Subject to the provisions of Subsection B below, the Borough Manager is hereby designated as the Open Records Officer of New Hope Borough, responsible for ensuring compliance with the provisions of this chapter and the Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law.
Editor's Note: See 65 P.S. § 67.502.
The Borough Manager shall direct all requests for records related to the New Hope Borough Police Department to the New Hope Borough Police Chief. The New Hope Borough Police Chief, or his designee within the Police Department, shall perform all duties and obligations required of the Open Records Officer under this chapter and the applicable provisions of the Pennsylvania Right-to-Know law regarding all requests for records regarding the New Hope Borough Police Department. For non-Police Department records, the Borough Manager may designate other New Hope Borough employees or agents to act as the Open Records Officer in the Borough Manager's absence or at the Borough Manager's direction.
The Open Records Officer or a designee thereof shall receive all requests for records, direct all requests to the other appropriate person(s) in New Hope Borough or the appropriate person at another agency, shall track New Hope Borough's progress in responding to the request, and shall issue interim and final responses under this chapter and the Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law.
Upon receiving a request for a record, the Open Records Officer or designee thereof shall do all of the following:
Note the date of receipt of the completed request on the written request itself.
Compute the day on which the five-business-day-period under § 27-5A of this chapter will expire and make a notation of that date on the written request.
Maintain an electronic or paper copy of a written request, including all documents submitted with the request, until the request has been fulfilled. If a request is denied, the written request shall be maintained for 30 days, or if an appeal is filed, until a final determination is issued or the appeal is deemed denied.
The Open Records Officer or a designee thereof shall be present when all public records are inspected and examined.
The Open Records Officer shall be responsible for charging reasonable fees consistent with this chapter for the duplication of the public records of New Hope Borough.
The Open Records Officer is authorized to and shall minimize where possible the financial impact to New Hope Borough regarding the resources utilized in the receipt and processing of public record requests and the retrieval and copying of public records.
All requests for public records of New Hope Borough pursuant to this chapter shall be specific in identifying and describing with sufficient detail each public record requested. In no case shall New Hope 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 New Hope Borough does not compile, maintain, format or organize the public record.
All requests for public records shall be submitted in writing, preferably on a form approved by the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records. All requests shall include the date of the request; the requester's name, address and telephone number; certification of United States residency; signature of the requester; and if duplication is requested, the appropriate payment.
The Open Records Officer, or designee thereof, shall make a good faith effort to determine whether each record requested is a public record.
New Hope Borough shall facilitate a reasonable response to a request for New Hope Borough's public records in accordance with the provisions of this chapter. In no case or instance shall the Borough be expected to provide extraordinary staff to respond to a request, but will respond in a manner consistent with this chapter, New Hope Borough's administrative responsibilities and capabilities, and consistent with the requirements of the Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law, as amended.
The Open Records Officer or designee thereof shall respond to the requester within five business days from the receipt of a complete written request. If a response of any kind is not provided within five business days of receipt of a complete written request, the request is deemed denied.
If access to the public record is approved, the public record shall be available for access during New Hope Borough's regular business hours. The Open Records Officer or designee thereof shall cooperate fully with the requester, while also taking reasonable measures to protect New Hope Borough public records from the possibility of theft and/or modification. The presence of a designated employee is required and mandatory when public records are examined and/or inspected.
If the request for a public record is being reviewed, the notice provided by New Hope Borough shall be in writing and shall include the reason for the review and the expected response date, which shall be within 30 days of the notice of review. If New Hope Borough does not respond within the aforementioned 30 days, the request is deemed denied. Review of the request is limited to the following situations:
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 requester has failed to comply with New Hope Borough's policy and procedure requirements for requesting a record;
The requester refuses to pay the applicable fees; or
The extent or nature of the request precludes a response within the required time period.
Upon a determination that one of the factors identified in Subsection D(1) through (7) inclusive applies, New Hope Borough shall send written notice to the requester within five business days of receipt of the request for access. The notice shall include a statement notifying the requester 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 requester has agreed in writing to an extension to the date specified in the notice. If the requester agrees to the extension, the request shall be deemed denied on the day following the date specified in the notice if New Hope Borough has not provided a response by that date.
If the request is denied or deemed denied, the requester may file an appeal with the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records within 15 business days of the mailing date of New Hope Borough's notice of denial, or within 15 business days of a deemed denial. The appeal shall state the grounds upon which the requester asserts that the record is a public record and shall address any grounds stated by New Hope Borough for delaying or denying the request. The requester shall also mail a copy of the appeal to New Hope Borough.
Within 30 days of the mailing date of the final determination of the appeals officer assigned by the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records, the requester or New Hope Borough may file a petition for review (or other document as required by rule of court) with the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas for a review of the final determination. A petition for review filed under this Subsection G shall stay the release of documents until the Common Pleas Court issues a final decision.
Fees for duplication of public records as set forth in this chapter shall be consistent with the rates established by the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records. New Hope Borough may waive fees, at the discretion of the Open Records Officer. The fees set forth in Subsection B are subject to any revisions issued by the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records. Such fees may be changed, and shall be changed where required, from time to time by resolution of Council that is consistent with revisions issued by the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records.
Subject to the provisions of Subsection A above, the following fees are established for the duplication of public records:
Photocopies (either a single-sided copy or one side of a double-sided black-and-white copy of a standard eight-and-one-half-by-eleven-inch page): $0.25 per page.
Certification of a record: $1 per record (not per page). Certification fees do not include notarization fees.
Specialized documents (for example, but not limited to, blueprints, color copies, nonstandard sized documents): actual cost.
Facsimile/microfiche/other media: actual cost.
Redaction fee: no redaction fee shall be imposed.
Conversion to paper: If a record is only maintained in electronic or in other nonpaper media, duplication fees are limited to the lesser of the fee for duplication on paper, or the fee for duplication in the original media unless the requester specifically requests for the record to be duplicated in the more expensive medium.
Postage fees: actual cost of mailing.
Prepayment. In the event the estimated cost of fulfilling a request submitted under this chapter is expected to exceed $100, the Open Records Office or designee thereof shall obtain the expected cost in advance of fulfilling the request to avoid the unwarranted expense of New Hope Borough resources.