[Res. 120908-02, 12/9/2008, § I]
The Township of Collier ("Township") is a local agency for purposes of the Right-to-Know Law, Act 3 of 2008 ("Act"), 65 P.S. § 67.101 et seq.
Access to Public Records. The Township shall provide public records in accordance with the Right-to-Know Law. Therefore, any record in the possession of the Township shall be presumed to be a public record, except in the following circumstances:
The record is exempt under § 708 of the Right-to-Know Law, 65 P.S. § 67.708.
The record is protected by the attorney-work product doctrine, the attorney-client privilege, or other privilege recognized by the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (i.e., statute or case law).
The record is exempt from disclosure under any other federal or state law or regulation, or judicial order or decree.
Definition of Record. Records are broadly defined under the Right-to-Know Law. The term includes a document, paper, letter, map, book, tape, photograph, film or sound recording, information stored or maintained electronically, and a data-processed or image-processed document.
Who Can Request Records. Requests for public records can be made by any person or who is a legal resident of the United States, including resident aliens. Requests to the Township can also be made by other local agencies, Commonwealth agencies (e.g., The Department of the Auditor General or the Treasury Department), judicial agencies (i.e., the courts), or legislative agencies (e.g., the Senate and House of Representatives).
[Res. 120908-02, 12/9/2008, § II]
Form of Request.
Requesters may make oral requests for access to records, in person at the Township office. However, if the requester wishes to pursue the relief and remedies provided for in the Right-to-Know Law, the request for access to records must be a written request. A written request for access to records may be submitted in person, by mail, by e-mail, or by facsimile.
No telephone requests will be accepted.
Open Records Officer.
The Township has designated Valerie Salla to act as the Open-Records Officer ("Officer"). The Officer's contact information is set forth below:
Editor’s Note: Pursuant to the direction of the Township, the name of the Open Records Officer was changed from Roberta Schmitt to Valerie Salla, and the contact information was updated accordingly.
All written requests must be addressed to the Officer. In the event that a written request for records is addressed to a Township employee other than the Officer, the Township employee is hereby directed to promptly forward such requests to the Officer.
Content of Request. Written requests should identify or describe the record sought with sufficient specificity to enable the Township to ascertain which records are being requested. Unless otherwise required by law, a written request need not include any explanation of the requester's reason for requesting the records or the intended use of such records. Anonymous written, e-mail, fax or in person requests shall be accepted. The Township may track each filed form by number or otherwise so as to track the Township's progress in responding to requests under the Right-to-Know Law.
Payment of Fees.
Prior to granting a request for access in accordance with the Right-to-Know Law, the Township may require a requester to prepay an estimate of the fees authorized by law if the fees required to fulfill the request are expected to exceed $100. The fees must be reasonable and based on prevailing fees for comparable duplication services provided by local business entities. Except as otherwise provided by statute, no other fees may be imposed unless the agency necessarily incurs costs for complying with the request, and such fees must be reasonable.
In all circumstances, the requester must agree to pay applicable fees authorized by the new Right-to-Know Law, such as (but not limited to) postage (not to exceed actual cost of mailing), duplication and certification. All applicable fees shall be paid before a requester receives access to the record(s) requested.
The fee structure shall follow the fee structure then adopted by the Office of Open Records, a copy of which is attached to this policy. Copy fees are $0.25 per page.
Form of Record Supplied. A record being provided to a requester shall be provided in the medium requested if it exists in that medium; otherwise, it shall be provided in the medium in which it exists. The Township shall not be required to create a record which does not currently exist or to otherwise compile, maintain, format or organize a record in a manner in which it does not currently compile, maintain, format or organize such record. The Township may impose fees in accordance with the Office of Open Records fee structure (current Fee Structure attached as Appendix A), for official certification of copies if the certification is at the behest of the requester and for the purpose of legally verifying the public record.
Editor's Note: Appendix A is on file in the Township offices.
Steps for Open Records Officer to Follow. Upon receipt of a written request for a public record, the Officer shall do the following:
Note the date of the receipt on the written request.
Compute the day on which the five-day period (see discussion of response, below) will expire, and make a notation of that date on the written request.
Create a file for the retention of the original request, a copy of the response, a record of written communications with the requester, and a copy of other communications.
[Res. 120908-02, 12/9/2008, § III]
Initial Determination. Upon receipt of a written request for access to a record, the Township shall make a good faith effort to determine if the record requested is a public record and whether the Township has possession, custody or control of the identified record. When doing so, the Township will respond as promptly as possible under the circumstances existing at the time of the request. Under the Right-to-Know Law, the Township must send a response within five business days of receipt of the written request for access, or else the written request shall be deemed denied. For purposes of this policy, a business day is any Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday, except those days when the Township's office is closed for all or part of a day due to a holiday.
Prepare Appropriate Response Form.
Upon receipt of a written request for access, the Officer shall determine if one of the following applies:
The request for access requires redaction of a record in accordance with the Right-to-Know Law.
The request for access requires the retrieval of a record stored in a remote location.
A timely response to the request for access can not be accomplished due to bona fide and specified staffing limitations.
A legal review is necessary to determine whether the record is a record subject to access under the Right-to-Know Law.
The requester has not complied with the Township's policies regarding access to records.
The requester refuses to pay applicable fees authorized by the Right-to-Know Law.
The extent or nature of the request precludes a response within the required time period of five business days.
Upon a determination that one of the factors listed above applies, the Officer 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. Information which the Township redacts in accordance with the Right-to-Know Law shall be deemed a denial.
If the date that a response is expected to be provided is in excess of 30 calendar days, following the five business days allowed for above, 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 the Township has not provided a response by that date.
For purposes of this policy, the "mailing date" shall be the date affixed to a: (1) response from the Officer to a request, which is to be the date the response is deposited in the U.S. mail; (2) final determination from the Officer, which is to be the date the final determination is deposited in the U.S. mail.
[Res. 120908-02, 12/9/2008, § IV]
If a written request for access to a record is denied or deemed denied, the requester may file an appeal with the Office of Open Records within 15 business days of the mailing date of the Township's response 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 the Township for delaying or denying the request.
[Res. 120908-02, 12/9/2008, § V]
The Township in its discretion may disclose exempt records upon following the standards set forth in § 506(c) of the Act, 65 P.S. § 67.506(c), upon completion of the Township's Certification of Access to Exempt Records, Appendix B, form by the Open Records Officer and upon notification to appropriate third parties under § 707(a) of the Act, 65 P.S. § 67.707(a).
Editor's Note: Appendix B is on file in the Township offices.
[Res. 120908-02, 12/9/2008, § VI]
Elected and appointed Township officers shall be provided with public records for their personal use without need to complete a written request form and without charge for the first six photocopies requested by such official per month.
[Res. 120908-02, 12/9/2008, § VII]
In the event that the Township operates a website and makes public records available thereon, requesters will be advised upon their first request of their ability to obtain such records from the website pursuant to § 704 of the Act, 67 P.S. § 67.704. Requesters may nevertheless request that a website record be converted to paper under § 704(b).