[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Commissioners of the Township of Lower Merion 2-20-1974 by Ord. No. 1711; amended in its entirety 7-20-2005 by Ord. No. 3747. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
- The Local Government Records Committee established by the Act of 1968, January 18, P.L. (1967) 961, Section 5.
- PUBLIC RECORDS
- Any account, voucher or contract dealing with the receipt or disbursement of funds by the Township of Lower Merion or its acquisition, use or disposal of services or of supplies, materials, equipment or other property and any minute, order or decision by the Township fixing the personal or property rights, privileges, immunities, duties or obligations of any person or group of persons, provided that the term "public record" shall not mean any report, communication or other paper, the publication of which would disclose the institution, progress or result of an investigation undertaken by the Township in the performance of its official duties, except those reports filed by the Township pertaining to safety and health in industrial plants; it shall not include any record document, material, exhibit, pleading, report, memorandum or other paper, access to or the publication of which is prohibited, restricted or forbidden by statute, law or order or decree of court, or which would operate to the prejudice or impairment of a person's reputation or personal security, or which would result in the loss by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or any of its political subdivisions (including the Township) or commissions or state or municipal authorities of federal funds, excepting therefrom, however, the record of any conviction for any criminal act.
- Any papers, books, maps, or photographs of other documentary materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received by the Township of Lower Merion in pursuance of law or in connection with the exercise of its legitimate functions and the discharge of its responsibilities.
Editor's Note: See 53 P.S. § 9005.
Whenever any officer, commission or agency of the Township of Lower Merion shall have photographed, microphotographed or microfilmed any public record with the approval of and in conformance with standards established by the Committee, the original documents may be destroyed by burning or other disposition may be made thereof, provided that the Commission shall first have given its written consent by certificate to such destruction or other disposition, and provided that each individual act of destruction or other disposition shall first be approved by resolution of the Board of Commissioners of the Township of Lower Merion. A record of items destroyed or disposed of shall be kept for reporting purposes and shall list date and method of disposal, a description of the record sufficient for identification, inclusive dates and quantity (cubic feet).
A certain document, three copies of which have been and are presently on file in the office of the Secretary of the Township of Lower Merion, being marked and designated "Retention and Distribution Schedule," and all amendments thereto, as proposed by the Commission and approved and promulgated by the Committee, be and is hereby adopted as part of this chapter as the schedule for the retention and disposition of original or reproduced public records.
All public documents, whether in the form of the original document or in a reproduced form as provided for in § 38-2 of this chapter, shall be retained for the time periods set forth in the schedule adopted by § 38-3 of this chapter. When the retention period has expired, the documents may be destroyed by burning or other disposition may be made thereof, provided that the Commission shall first have given its written consent to such destruction or other disposition and shall have certified that such destruction or disposal is in accordance with the established schedule, and provided that each individual act of destruction or other disposition shall be first approved by resolution of the Board of Commissioners of the Township of Lower Merion. A record of items destroyed or disposed of shall be kept for reporting purposes and shall list date and method of destruction or disposal, a description of the record sufficient for identification, inclusive dates and quantity (cubic feet).
Nothing in this chapter shall prevent the Township of Lower Merion from retaining records longer than the periods provided in schedules approved by the Local Government Records Committee.
Access to the public records of the Township of Lower Merion shall be governed by the Right-to-Know Law of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Act of June 21, 1957, as amended, and by the following regulations promulgated under the authority of that Act:
All requests for public records shall be made in writing to the Public Information Officer and submitted in person, by mail, or by facsimile. The request shall identify with reasonable particularity the document or documents sought, whether the documents are to be made available for inspection and/or duplication, and the medium in which the record is requested to be provided.
The Public Information Officer shall initially determine if the document or documents are in the Township's possession, and if so, whether one or more of the following factors would prevent a response to the request within five business days:
The request requires redaction of the public record.
The request requires retrieval of records stored in remote location.
Bona fide and specified staffing limitations inhibit a timely response.
A legal review is necessary to determine if the record is a public record.
The requester has not complied with the agency's policies regarding access.
The requestor refuses to pay the applicable fees.
Within five business days of the receipt of the request, the Public Information Officer shall respond to the request either by notifying the requestor that the document is not in the Township's possession, or that the request is denied, or that the request is being reviewed, specifying one or more of the reasons set forth in Subsection B hereinabove, but will be available at an anticipated date no less than 35 days from the date the request was received, or that the document will be available for inspection at the Township during normal business hours. Whenever records are made available for access, the Public Information Officer shall not be required to maintain them for that purpose for a period in excess of 30 days prior to returning them to storage.
If the request is denied, whether initially or after review, the Public Information Officer shall so notify the requestor in a writing which shall include:
A description of the record requested.
The specific reasons for the denial, including a citation of supporting legal authority. If the denial is the result of a determination that the record requested is not a public record, the specific reasons for that determination by the Township.
The typed or printed name, title, business address, business telephone number and signature of the public official or public employee on whose authority the denial is issued.
The date of the response.
The procedure to appeal the denial of access under the act.
The Public Information Officer shall maintain a schedule of fees for the official certification of copies, and for the duplication of records by photocopying, printing from electronic media or microfilm, copying onto electronic media, transmission by facsimile or other electronic means and for any other means of duplication. Duplication fees shall be reasonable and based on prevailing fees for comparable services provided by local business entities. If it is estimated by the Public Information Officer that the fees will exceed $100, or if there is a balance due the Township for fees billed as the result of prior requests, the requestor shall be required to remit the estimated and/or past-due fees prior to being given access to the records. Otherwise the requestor will be required to remit the actual fees for certification, duplication and postage, if applicable, at the time the records are delivered. In addition to the fees set forth in the schedule of fees, a requestor may be charged costs the Township necessarily incurs in complying with the request, other than a fee for the cost of determining whether a record is a public record subject to access.
The regulations set forth in § 38-6 above, together with the schedule of fees maintained pursuant to this article, shall be posted in the Township Building.