[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Council of the Town of South Berwick 12-11-2006. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The purpose of this policy is to ensure the dissemination of information in accordance with 1 MRSA § 408. This policy is not intended to alter the requirements of 1 M.R.S.A. § 408 in any way. This policy shall not apply to the Police Department as legal objectives dictate a separate policy to ensure the interest of public safety.
Most documents in the possession of the Town fall under the category of public information. Many of these documents are already copied or provided to the requester in a simple fashion. The Town Clerk has in his/her possession most official records of Town business. Those records are made available for viewing in the Clerk's office during regularly posted business hours. Other records or documents not stored in the Clerk's office will be made available through the appropriate department. In those instances where a request cannot immediately be filled due to the need for further research or copying, the following steps shall be followed:
If only one employee is available, that employee should ask the requester to come back at a time (preferably on the same or next business day) when there will be a second employee available. The requester may view documents one at a time without supervision, but may only view an entire file or records book under the supervision of a Town employee. Files shall be reviewed in the appropriate department. Copies shall be made by Town employees; the requester may not make his/her own copies at Town Hall.
Town employees shall make every effort to comply with the intent of the "Right to Know" Law, otherwise known as the "Freedom of Information Act." When an employee is concerned the document being requested may be confidential under state law, the employee shall refer the requester to his/her department head. Further questions may be clarified by the Town Manager. If there is still concern with regard to the applicability of the Right to Know Law, MMA legal services shall be consulted.
Large quantities or subsets of documents shall be requested using the attached form. This form will allow the appropriate staff member time to compile the documents and call/e-mail or mail the information to the requester. As per state law, the requester is not required to fill out his/her name nor is he/she required to inform why he/she is looking for the information. This form simply provides a way for the staff to identify who is being assisted. If the requester does not wish to be contacted, the staff member shall notify the person of the approximate date when the documents will be available to be picked up. In this instance it is suggested the requester call to confirm the documents are complete.
Editor's Note: The form is on file in the Town offices.
To ensure compliance with 1 MRSA § 408, the Town shall respond in writing to the requester if his or her request cannot be fulfilled, if more time is needed to fulfill the request, or if the Town needs clarification of exactly what records are being requested. This writing must be provided to the requester within five business days from the receipt of the request. This letter shall be attached to the request form, if any, and filed in the Town Manager's office for future reference. Requests received outside regular posted business hours shall be considered received at 9 a.m. on the next regular business day.
Charges for information shall be instituted as suggested by the State of Maine.
The Town of South Berwick's posted fee schedule shall apply to copying services.
The employee or department head must inform the requestor if the estimated cost is to exceed $20.
The employee or department head may request payment in advance if the total cost is estimated to exceed $100.
A department head or Town Manager may waive the fee if: