Rockland County, NY
 
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Rockland County Legislature 3-1-1994 by Res. No. 78-1994.[1] Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Fees and charges — See Ch. 263.
[1]
Editor's Note: This resolution also repealed former Ch. 329, Public Records, Access to, adopted 5-20-1975 by Res. No. 400-1975.

§ 329-1 Purpose and scope.

A. 
The People's right to know the process of government decisionmaking and the documents and statistics leading to determinations is basic to our society. Access to such information should not be thwarted by shrouding it with the cloak of secrecy or confidentiality.
B. 
This policy provides information concerning the procedures by which records may be obtained.
C. 
Personnel shall furnish to the public the information and records required by the Freedom of Information Law,[1] as well as records otherwise available by law.
[1]
Editor's Note: See Public Officers Law § 84 et seq.
D. 
Any conflicts among laws governing public access to records shall be construed in favor of the widest possible availability of public records.

§ 329-2 Definitions.

[Amended 11-3-2004 by Res. No. 547-2004]
For the purposes of these rules, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
AGENCY
Any department, office, board, bureau, commission, council, committee, division, district or other governmental entity performing a governmental function for the County of Rockland and having custody of records.
RECORD
As defined in § 86(4) of the New York State Freedom of Information Law.

§ 329-3 Records to be made promptly available.

[Amended 11-3-2004 by Res. No. 547-2004; 5-1-2007 by Res. No. 248-2007]
Each agency, on request for reasonably described records made in writing, shall make the records, except as otherwise exempt by statute, promptly available to any person for inspection and, upon payment of the fees set forth herein, unless other fees are provided by law, either make photostatic copies of such records as requested, provide the records in electronic format, if reasonable means are available to the agency, or certify that the agency is not the legal custodian for such records or that the requested records cannot be found. Nothing in these procedures shall be construed to require any entity to prepare any record not possessed or maintained by such entity except as otherwise provided by law.

§ 329-4 Designation of Records Access Officer.

A. 
Each agency shall designate, in writing, a records access officer and substitute. The written designation shall be filed with the County Executive's Office and the Department of Law. The written designation shall provide at least the following:
(1) 
The name of the records access officer and substitute.
(2) 
Job title.
(3) 
Office address.
(4) 
Office telephone number.
B. 
Records access officers are responsible for ensuring appropriate agency response to public requests for access to records. The designation of records access officers 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.
C. 
Records access officers shall ensure that 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; or
(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, in accordance with § 329-16; or
(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 agency is not the custodian for such records; or
(b) 
The records of which the agency is a custodian cannot be found after diligent search.
D. 
Notwithstanding any other provisions of this policy to the contrary, no record of the County of Rockland shall be removed from the agency office without the prior written approval of the agency's access officer and department head.

§ 329-5 Public notice.

[Amended 11-3-2004 by Res. No. 547-2004]
A notice containing the name, title, office address and office telephone number of the Records Access Officer, the substitute Records Access Officer, and the appeals person, the location where records can be seen or copied, and the times during which records can be seen, shall be posted in a conspicuous location wherever records are kept, and/or by publication in a local newspaper of general circulation.

§ 329-6 (Reserved) [1]

[1]
Editor's Note: Former § 329-6, Payroll records, was repealed 11-3-2004 by Res. No. 547-2004.

§ 329-7 Subject matter lists.

[Amended 11-3-2004 by Res. No. 547-2004]
Agencies shall adopt the records retention schedule developed by the State Education Department pursuant to Article 57-A of the New York State Cultural Affairs Law as their subject matter lists.

§ 329-8 Availability and certification of transcripts.

[Amended 11-3-2004 by Res. No. 547-2004]
Each agency shall maintain and make available for public inspection and copying and certify, upon request, that the transcript is a true copy, in conformity with such regulations as may be issued by the New York State Committee on Open Government, a current list, reasonably detailed, by subject matter, of any records enumerated in § 87 of the Public Officers Law.

§ 329-9 Officers and employees list.

Each agency shall maintain a list which sets forth the following: the name, public office address, title and salary of every officer or employee of the agency.

§ 329-10 Hours for public inspection.

[Amended 11-3-2004 by Res. No. 547-2004]
Each agency shall accept requests for public access to records and produce records during all hours it is regularly open for business. In 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 telephone number of the party to be contacted for the purpose of making an appointment.

§ 329-11 Requests for public access to records.

[Amended 11-3-2004 by Res. No. 547-2004; 5-1-2007 by Res. No. 248-2007]
A. 
A written request shall be required, but oral requests may be accepted by an agency when records are readily available, as determined by the agency. If an agency has reasonable means available, it shall accept requests for records submitted in the form of electronic mail.
B. 
A response shall be given regarding nay request reasonably describing the record or records sought within five business days of receipt of the request. If an agency has reasonable means available, it shall respond to requests for records submitted in the form of electronic mail by electronic mail, provided that the requests do not seek a response in some other form.
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 records access officer does not provide or deny access to the record sought within five business days of receipt of a request, he or she shall furnish a written acknowledgement of receipt of the request and a statement of the approximate date, which date must be reasonable under the circumstances of the request, when the request will be granted or denied. If an agency determines to grant a request in whole or in part, and if circumstances prevent disclosure to the person requesting the record or records within 20 business days from the date of the acknowledgement of the receipt of the request, the agency shall state, in writing, both the reason for the inability to grant the request within 20 business days and add a date certain within a reasonable period, depending on the circumstances, when the request will be granted in whole or in part.

§ 329-12 Deletion of certain information.

A. 
Each agency, to prevent an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, shall delete from records to be made available such details as may be required pursuant to § 89 of the New York Public Officers Law, or as such law may be amended. An unwarranted invasion of personal privacy includes, but shall not be limited to:
[Amended 11-3-2004 by Res. No. 547-2004]
(1) 
Disclosure of such personal matters as may have been reported in confidence to an agency and which is not relevant or essential to the ordinary work of the agency.
(2) 
Disclosure of employment, medical or credit histories or personal references of applicants for employment, except that such records may be disclosed when the applicant has provided a written release permitting such disclosure.
(3) 
Disclosure of items involving the medical or personal records of a client or patient in a hospital or medical facility.
(4) 
The sale or release of lists of names and addresses in the possession of any agency if such lists would be used for private, commercial or fund-raising purposes.
(5) 
Disclosure of items of a personal nature when disclosure would result in economic or personal hardship to the subject party and such records are not relevant or essential to the ordinary work of the agency.
B. 
In the event that one or more deletions are so made from any record, the agency shall provide notice of the fact to the person given access to the record. If the record is such that the personal matters cannot be fully deleted without substantively affecting the record or the identifying details cannot be effectively deleted, the agency shall deny access to such record.

§ 329-13 Nonapplicability.

[Amended 11-3-2004 by Res. No. 547-2004]
These rules shall not apply to records or portions thereof that are outlined and as prescribed in § 87(2) of the New York State Freedom of Information Law.

§ 329-14 Denial of access to records.

[Amended 11-3-2004 by Res. No. 547-2004]
A. 
Denial of access to records shall be in writing stating the reason therefor and advising the requester of the right to appeal to the individual established to hear appeals.
B. 
If the records are not provided promptly, as required in § 329-11D of these regulations, such failure shall also be deemed a denial of access.
C. 
The following persons shall hear appeals for denial of access to records under the Freedom of Information Law:
(1) 
With respect to records of, or under the control of, the Legislature, appeals shall be directed to the Vice Chairperson of the Legislature.
(2) 
With respect to records of, or under the control of, the Office of the District Attorney, appeals shall be directed to the Chief Assistant District Attorney.
(3) 
With respect and reference to all other records, appeals shall be directed to the Records Access Appeals Officer in the Office of the County Executive.
D. 
Any party denied access to a record or records may appeal such denial, in writing, to the person designated herein to hear said appeal, within 30 days after such denial. If said designated person further denies such access, his/her reasons therefor shall be explained, in writing, within 10 business days and a copy mailed to the party denied access.
E. 
The individual designated to hear appeals shall inform the requester of his/her decision, in writing, within 10 business days of receipt of the appeal. A failure to determine the appeal within 10 business days shall constitute a denial of the appeal.
[Amended 5-1-2007 by Res. No. 248-2007]
F. 
A person denied access to a record in an appeal determination under this section may bring a proceeding for review of such denial pursuant to Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules. In the event that access to any record is denied pursuant to the provisions of § 87(2) of the Public Officers Law, the agency involved shall have the burden of proving that such record falls within the provisions of such § 87(2).
[Added 5-1-2007 by Res. No. 248-2007]
G. 
The court in such a proceeding may access, against such agency involved, reasonable attorney’s fees and other litigation costs reasonably incurred by such person in any case under the provisions of this section in which such person has substantially prevailed, when:
[Added 5-1-2007 by Res. No. 248-2007[1]]
(1) 
The agency had no reasonable basis for denying access; or
(2) 
The agency failed to respond to such a request or appeal within the statutory time.
[1]
Editor's Note: This local law also redesignated former Subsections F and G as Subsections H and I, respectively.
H. 
The person or body designated to determine appeals shall transmit to the Committee on Open Government copies of all appeals upon receipt of appeals. Such copies shall be addressed to:
Committee on Open Government
Department of State
41 State Street
Albany, New York 12231
I. 
The person or body designated to determine appeals shall inform the appellant and the Committee on Open Government of its determination in writing within 10 business days of receipt of an appeal. The determination shall be transmitted to the Committee on Open Government in the same manner as set forth Subsection H of this section.

§ 329-15 Limitations on access.

A. 
(Reserved)[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Former Subsection A, allowing agencies to limit the record inspection time, was repealed 11-3-2004 by Res. No. 547-2004.
B. 
Nothing herein contained shall give any person the right to remove a record from supervision and control of the agency, nor shall these rules give any person the right to examine the books, papers and records of the Probation Department, the County Attorney's Office, the District Attorney's Office or any other law enforcement agency of the County of Rockland or any agency thereof relating to criminal investigations and confidential records.
[Amended 11-3-2004 by Res. No. 547-2004]
C. 
Each agency may promulgate such other and further regulations consistent with these rules, the New York Freedom of Information Law[2] and other laws and regulations governing such agency, as may be necessary.
[2]
Editor's Note: See Public Officers Law § 84 et seq.

§ 329-16 Fees.

A. 
Except when a different fee is otherwise prescribed by statute, there shall be no fee charged for the following:
[Amended 11-3-2004 by Res. No. 547-2004; 5-1-2007 by Res. No. 248-2007]
(1) 
Inspection of records.
(2) 
Search for records.
(3) 
Any certification pursuant to these rules.
(4) 
Records provided by electronic mail, in response to an electronic mail request for records, when reasonable means are available.
[Added 5-1-2007 by Res. No. 248-2007]
B. 
An agency shall charge a fee for copies of records, provided that:
(1) 
The fee for copying records shall not exceed $0.25 per page for photocopies not exceeding nine inches by 14 inches.
[Amended 11-3-2004 by Res. No. 547-2004]
(2) 
In 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 requester may be charged for the clerical time involved in making the transcript.
(3) 
The fee for copies of records not covered by Subsections B(1) and (2) of this section shall not exceed the actual copying cost, which is the average unit cost for copying a record, excluding fixed costs of the agency such as operator salaries.

§ 329-17 Guidance for making a determination.

A. 
The records access officer is to refer to the Freedom of Information Law (Public Officers Law § 84 et seq.) in making a determination of what records are to be released.
B. 
The public policy of the State of New York is that all records maintained by County government should be made available for public inspection, unless exempt from disclosure for specific reasons. Any question concerning the release of records may be referred to the Department of Law for guidance in making a determination to release any requested information.
[Amended 11-3-2004 by Res. No. 547-2004]