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City of Easton, PA
Northampton County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Council of the City of Easton as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Fees — See Ch. 285.
[Adopted 3-25-2009 by Ord. No. 5195[1]]
[1]
Editor's Note: This ordinance also repealed former Art. I, Access to Public Records, adopted 2-26-2003 by Ord. No. 4285 (Art. 182 of the 1965 Codified Ordinances), as amended. This ordinance also provided that it shall be retroactive to 1-1-2009.
[Amended 3-26-2014 by Ord. No. 5459]
The purpose of this article is to assure compliance with the Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law, as amended by Act 3 of 2008 (2008, Feb. 14, P.L. 6, No. 3) and codified at 65 P.S. § 67.101 and sections following (hereinafter the "Right-to-Know Law"), to provide access to the public records of the City of Easton (hereinafter the "City"), and to preserve the integrity of the City's records, and to minimize the financial impact by the residents of the City regarding the resources utilized in the receipt and processing of public records' requests and the retrieval and copying of public records.
A. 
The City Clerk is hereby appointed the City's Open Records Officer in accordance with the Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law. The Assistant City Clerk shall be the alternate Open Records Officer in the absence of the City Clerk. The Police Lieutenant of Records shall be an Alternate Open Records Officer when a request is received regarding police records. The Open Records Officer and Alternate Open Records Officers may be replaced from time to time by a further ordinance adopted by the Council of the City. The Open Records Officer and Alternate Police Open Records Officer may be contacted as follows:
[Amended 3-26-2014 by Ord. No. 5459; 5-23-2018 by Ord. No. 5638]
Thomas A. Hess, City Clerk
City Hall
123 South Third Street
Easton, Pa. 18042
Telephone: 610-250-6731
Fax: 610-250-6736
Email: thess@easton-pa.gov
Salvatore Crisafulli, Lieutenant of Records
Easton Police Department
48 North Fourth Street
Easton, Pa. 18042
Telephone 610-250-6664
Fax: 610-250-6775
E-mail: scrisafulli@easton-pa.gov
B. 
The functions of the Open Records Officer shall be as follows:
(1) 
To receive requests submitted to the City under the Right-to-Know Law, direct requests to other appropriate persons within the City, or to appropriate persons in another agency, track the City's progress in responding to requests and issue interim and final responses required under the Right-to-Know Law.
(2) 
Upon receiving a request for a public record, the Open Records Officer shall do all the following:
(a) 
Note the date and time of the receipt on the written request.
(b) 
Compute the day on which the five-business-day period under Section 901 of the Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law will expire and make a notation of that date on the written request.
[Amended 3-26-2014 by Ord. No. 5459]
(c) 
Maintain an electronic or paper copy of a written request including all documents submitted with the request until the request has been fulfilled. If the request is denied, the written request shall be maintained for 30 days or, if an appeal is filed, until a final determination is issued under Section 1102(b) of the Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law or the appeal is deemed denied.
[Amended 3-26-2014 by Ord. No. 5459]
[Amended 3-26-2014 by Ord. No. 5459]
All written requests shall be submitted on a form promulgated by the City. The request form will be available at the City Clerk's office upon request and free of charge, and will also be available on the City's Internet website, and the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records Internet website. A copy of the form is attached to this article as Exhibit A.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: The form is on file in the City offices.
A. 
Disruptive requests.
(1) 
The City may deny a requester access to a record if the requester has made repeated requests for that same record and the repeated requests have placed an unreasonable burden on the agency.
(2) 
A denial under this subsection shall not restrict the ability to request a different record.
B. 
Disaster or potential damage.
(1) 
The City may deny a requester access:
(a) 
When timely access is not possible due to fire, flood or other disaster; or
(b) 
To historical, ancient or rare documents, records, archives and manuscripts when access may, in the professional judgment of the curator or custodian of records, cause physical damage or irreparable harm to the record.
(2) 
To the extent possible, the contents of a record under this subsection shall be made accessible to a requester even when the record is physically unavailable.
C. 
City discretion. The City may exercise its discretion to make any otherwise exempt record accessible for inspection and copying under this article, if all of the following apply:
(1) 
Disclosure of the record is not prohibited under any of the following:
(a) 
Federal or state law or regulations.
(b) 
Judicial order or decree.
(2) 
The record is not protected by a privilege.
(3) 
The City determines that the public interest favoring access outweighs any individual City or public interest that may favor restriction of access.
D. 
City possession.
(1) 
A public record that is not in the possession of the City, but is in possession of a party with whom the City has contracted to perform a governmental function on behalf of the City, and which directly relates to the governmental function and is not exempt under the Right-to-Know Law, shall be considered a public record of the City.
(2) 
A request for a public record in possession of a party other than the City shall be submitted to the Open Records Officer of the City. Upon determination that the record is subject to access under the Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Act, the Open Records Officer shall assess the duplication fee, as specified in Chapter 285, and upon collection shall remit the fee to the party in possession of the record if the party duplicated the record.
[Amended 3-26-2014 by Ord. No. 5459]
A. 
Requests. The City may fulfill verbal, written or anonymous verbal or written requests for access to records under the Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law. If the requester wishes to pursue the relief and remedies provided for in the Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law, however, the request for access to records must be a written request.
[Amended 3-26-2014 by Ord. No. 5459]
B. 
Written requests. A written request for access to records may be submitted in person, by mail, by e-mail, or by facsimile. A written request must be addressed to the Open Records Officer. Employees of the City shall be directed to forward requests for records to the Open Records Officer. A written request should identify or describe the records sought with sufficient specificity to enable the City to ascertain which records are being requested and shall include the name and address to which the City should address its response. A written request need not include any explanation of the requester's reason for requesting or intended use of the records unless otherwise required by law.
C. 
Creation of record not required. When responding to a request for access, the City shall not be required to create a record that does not currently exist or to compile, maintain, format or organize a record in a manner in which the City does not currently compile, maintain, format or organize the record.
D. 
Redaction. If the City determines that a public record contains information that is subject to access as well as information that is not subject to access, the City's response will grant access to the information that is subject to access and deny access to the information that is not subject to access. If the information subject to access is an integral part of the public record, the City will redact from the record the information that is not subject to access, and the response will grant access to the information that is subject to access. The City may not deny access to the record if the information that is not subject to access can be redacted.
E. 
Production of certain records.
(1) 
General rule. If, in response to a request, the City produces a record that is not a public record, the City shall notify any third party that provided the record to the City, the person that is subject of the record, and the requester.
(2) 
Requests for trade secrets. The City will notify a third party of a request for a record if the third party provided the record and included a written statement signed by a representative of the third party that the record contains a trade secret or confidential proprietary information. Notification shall be provided within five business days of receipt of the request for the record. The third party shall have five business days from receipt of notification from the agency to provide input on the release of the record. The City shall deny the request for the record or release the record within 10 business days of the provision of notice to the third party and shall notify the third party of the decision.
(3) 
Transcripts. Prior to adjudication becoming final, binding and nonappealable, the City shall provide a transcript of an administrative proceed to a requester. The City shall charge a fee to the requester for duplication of the transcript, which fee shall be as specified in Chapter 285.
[Amended 3-26-2014 by Ord. No. 5459]
F. 
Fees.
(1) 
Postage. A fee shall be charged for postage costs incurred by the City in responding to any request. Fees for postage may not exceed the actual cost of mailing.
(2) 
Duplication. A fee shall be charged for duplication costs incurred by the City in responding to any request. The fee to be charged for duplication shall be as specified in Chapter 285.
[Amended 3-26-2014 by Ord. No. 5459]
(3) 
Certification. The City will impose a fee as specified in Chapter 285 for certification of records if the certification is at the behest of the requester and for the purpose of legally verifying the public record.
[Amended 3-26-2014 by Ord. No. 5459]
(4) 
Conversion to paper. If a record is maintained electronically or in other nonpaper media, the fees for the duplication from the nonpaper media to paper shall be the same as for duplication on paper.
(5) 
Waiver of fees. The City may waive the fees for duplication of a record, including, but not limited to, when:
(a) 
The requester duplicates the record; or
(b) 
The City deems it is in the public interest to do so.
(6) 
Prepayment. Prior to granting a request for access to a public record or records, the City will require a requester to prepay an estimate of the fees authorized under this subsection if the fees required to fulfill the request are expected to exceed $100.
A. 
General rule. Upon receipt of a written request for access to a record, the City shall make a good faith effort to determine if the record requested is a public record and whether the City has possession, custody or control of the identified record, and will respond as promptly as possible under the circumstances existing at the time of the request. All applicable fees shall be paid in order to receive access to the record requested. Subject to the provisions of § 135-6B, the time for response shall not exceed five business days from the date the written request is received by the Open Records Officer. If the City fails to send the response within five business days of receipt of the written request for access, the written request for access shall be deemed denied.
B. 
Extension of time.
(1) 
Determination. Upon receipt of a written request for access, the Open Records Officer shall determine if one of the following applies:
(a) 
The request for access requires redaction of a record in accordance with § 135-5D;
(b) 
The request for access requires the retrieval of a record stored in a remote location;
(c) 
A timely response to the request for access cannot be accomplished due to bona fide and specified staffing limitations;
(d) 
A legal review is necessary to determine whether the record is a record subject to access under the Right-to-Know Law;
(e) 
The requester has not complied with the City's policies regarding access to records;
(f) 
The requester refuses to pay applicable fees authorized by the Right-to-Know Law; or
(g) 
The extent or nature of the request precludes a response within the required time period.
C. 
Notice.
(1) 
Upon a determination that one of the factors listed in Subsection A applies, the Open Records Officer shall send written notice to the requester within five business days of receipt of the request for access under § 135-6B.
(2) 
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 in § 135-6A, 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.
(3) 
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 City has not provided a response by that date.
D. 
Denial. If the City's response is a denial of a written request for access, whether in whole or in part, the denial shall be issued in writing and shall include:
(1) 
A description of the record requested.
(2) 
The specific reasons for the denial, including a citation of supporting legal authority.
(3) 
The typed or printed name, title, business address, business telephone number and signature of the Open Records Officer on whose authority the denial is issued.
(4) 
Date of the response.
(5) 
The procedure to appeal the denial of access under the Right-to-Know Law.
E. 
Certified copies. If the City's response grants a request for access, the City shall, upon request, provide the requester with a certified copy of the record if the requester pays the fee as specified in Chapter 285.
[Amended 3-26-2014 by Ord. No. 5459]
[Amended 3-26-2014 by Ord. No. 5459; 5-23-2018 by Ord. No. 5638]
This policy shall be available at the City Clerk's office on the third floor of City Hall, 123 South Third Street, Easton, Pennsylvania and on the City's Internet website. In addition, information regarding the procedure to be followed by a requester to appeal a denial or deemed denial of his or her request, including all contact information for the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records, shall be posted on the City's Internet website.