Right to Know – Open Records
Open Records Officer for Factoryville Borough:
Borough Manager, Mary Ellen Buckbee
Email Open Records Officer
Factoryville Borough Hall Building
161 College Avenue
Factoryville PA 18419-0277
Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday
and by appointment
Pennsylvania Office of Open Records contact information:
Open Records Policy
The purpose of this Policy is to assure compliance with Act 3 of 2008, The Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law, as amended; to provide access to public records of Factoryville Borough; to preserve the integrity of Factoryville Borough’s records; and to minimize the financial impact to the residents of the Borough regarding the resources utilized in the receipt and processing of public record requests and the retrieval and copying of public records.
In the event that any term of this Policy conflicts with any provision of the Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law, or any amendment thereto, the Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law shall control.
2. Designated Open Records Officer
It is the policy of the Borough to require the presence of a designated employee when public records are examined and inspected and to charge reasonable fees for duplication of public records of the Borough. Factoryville Borough shall designate the Open-Records Officer from time to time by Resolution. The Open-Records Officer shall be responsible for assuring compliance with the Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law, in accordance with the following guidelines:
A. The Open-Records Officer may designate certain employee(s) to process public record requests.
B. The Open-Records Officer is responsible for minimizing, where possible, the financial impact to the Borough regarding the resources utilized in the receipt and processing of public record requests and the retrieval and copying of public records.
3. Requests for Public Records
All requests for public records of the Borough under this policy shall be in writing and must be addressed to the Open-Records Officer. Employees of the Borough are directed to forward all requests for records to the Open-Records Officer. A written request should identify or describe the records sought with sufficient specificity to enable the agency to ascertain which records are being requested and shall include the name and address to which the Borough should address its response.
Upon receiving a request for a public record, legislative record or financial record, the open-records officer shall do all of the following:
(i) Note the date of receipt on the written request.
(ii) Compute the day on which the five-day period under Paragraph 4A, below, will expire and make a notation of that date on the written request.
(iii) 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 or the appeal is deemed denied.
4. Response to Request for Public Record
General rule. Upon receipt of a written request for access to a record, the Open-Records Officer shall make a good faith effort to determine if the record requested is a public record, legislative record or financial record and whether the Borough has possession, custody or control of the identified record, and to 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. 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 Open-Records Officer 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.
Extension of time.
(i) Determination.–Upon receipt of a written request for access, the Open-Records Officer shall determine if one of the following applies:
(1) the request for access requires redaction of a record in accordance with Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law;
(2) the request for access requires the retrieval of a record stored in a remote location;
(3) a timely response to the request for access cannot be accomplished due to bona fide and specified staffing limitations;
(4) a legal review is necessary to determine whether the record is a record subject to access under this act;
(5) the requester has not complied with the Borough’s policies regarding access to records;
(6) the requester refuses to pay applicable fees; or
(7) the extent or nature of the request precludes a response within the required time period.
(ii) Notice.— (1) Upon a determination that one of the factors listed in subsection (i) applies, the Open-Records Officer shall send written notice to the requester within five business days of receipt of the request.
(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 section 4A, 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 agency has not provided a response by that date. The Borough may respond to a request by notifying the requestor that the requested information is available through any publicly accessible electronic means or by providing access to inspect the record electronically. If the requester is unwilling or unable to access the record electronically, the requester may, within 30 days following receipt of the Borough’s notification, submit a written request to the Borough to have the record converted to paper. The agency shall provide access to the record in printed form within five days of the receipt of the written request for conversion to paper.
Denial. If the Borough’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:
(i) A description of the record requested.
(ii) The specific reasons for the denial, including a citation of supporting legal authority.
(iii) 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.
(iv) Date of the response.
(v) The procedure to appeal the denial of access
If access to the public record requested is approved, the public record shall be available for access and duplication during the regular business hours of the Borough. The designated employee shall cooperate fully with the requester, while also taking reasonable measures to protect Borough public records from the possibility of theft and/or modification. The presence of a designated employee is required when public records are examined and inspected.
(ii) Fees for duplication of public records shall be as established by the Borough by Resolution from time to time. In the event the estimated cost of fulfilling a request submitted under this policy is expected to exceed $100.00, the Open-Record Officer designated employee(s) shall obtain the expected cost in advance of fulfilling the request to avoid unwarranted expense of Borough resources.
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. When responding to a request for access, the Borough shall not be required to create a record which does not currently exist or to compile, maintain, format or organize a record in a manner in which the agency does not currently compile, maintain, format or organize the record. Redaction. If the Borough determines that a public record, legislative record or financial record contains information which is subject to access as well as information which is not subject to access, the agency’s response shall grant access to the information which is subject to access and deny access to the information which is not subject to access. If the information which is not subject to access is an integral part of the public record, legislative record or financial record and cannot be separated, the Borough shall redact from the record the information which is not subject to access, and the response shall grant access to the information which is subject to access. The Borough may not deny access to the record if the information which is not subject to access is able to be redacted. Information which an agency redacts in accordance with this subsection shall be deemed a denial
Unless otherwise set forth in paragraph 4B, below, if a request is denied or deemed denied, the requester may file an appeal with the Commonwealth’s Office of Open Records within fifteen (15) business days of the mailing date of the Borough’s notice of denial, or within fifteen (15) 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 Borough for delaying or denying the request.
Appeals from a determination that the requested record is a criminal investigative record shall be made to the Appeal Officer designated by the Wyoming County District Attorney pursuant to 65 P.S. 503(d).
Within 30 days of the mailing date of the final determination of the appeals officer, the requester or Borough may file a petition for review or other document as required by rule of court with the Court of Common Pleas of the 44 th Judicial District, Wyoming County Branch. A petition for review under this section shall stay the release of documents until a decision is issued.
5. Posting. The following information shall be posted at the Borough Building and, if the Borough maintains an Internet website, on the Borough’s Internet website: Contact information for the Open-Records Officer. Contact information for the Office of Open Records or other applicable appeals officer. A form which may be used to file a request. A copy of this Policy and any related Resolutions and Fee Schedules.
The Fees for copies of open records are as follows:
Section 1307 of the Right-To-Know law requires the Office of Open Records to establish a fee structure for Commonwealth Agencies and Local Agencies. To promote uniformity among all agencies, the Office of Open Records encourages Judicial and Legislative agencies, which can set their own fees, to adopt the following fee structure. All agencies are advised that duplication fees can be waived.
The Office of Open Records establishes the following fee structure in accordance with the law. The Law requires that the Office of Open Records review the fee structure biannually. The Office will review the fee structure in June of 2009. Any updates will be placed on our website by June 30, 2009.
Between .10 per page to a maximum .25 per page.
(A “photocopy” is either a single-sided copy or one side of a double-sided black-and-white copy of a standard 8.5” x 11” page)
Certification of a Record: An agency may impose reasonable fees 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. The Office of Open Records recommends no more than $5 per record to certify a public record. Please note that certification fees do not include notarization fees.
(For example, but not limited to, blue prints, color copies, non-standard sized documents)
Redaction Fee: No Redaction Fee May be Imposed
Conversion to Paper:
If a record is only maintained electronically or in other non-paper media, duplication fees shall be limited to the lesser of the fee for duplication on paper or the fee for duplication in the original media unless the requester specifically requests for the record to be duplicated in the more expensive medium. (Sec. 1307(e)).
Postage Fees: Fees for Postage May Not Exceed the Actual Cost of Mailing
Please Also Be Advised:
Statutory Fees: If a separate statute authorizes an agency to charge a set amount for a certain type of record, the agency may charge no more than that statutory amount. For example, a Recorder of Deeds may charge a copy fee of 50 cents per uncertified page and $1.50 per certified page under 42 P.S. § 21051. Police departments have the authority to charge up to $15 per report for providing a copy of a vehicle accident report. 75 Pa.C.S. §3751 (b)(2). Philadelphia police may charge up to $25 per copy. Id . at (b)(3). State police are authorized to charge “$5 for each copy of the Pennsylvania State Police full report of investigation.” 75 Pa.C.S. §1956(b).
Inspection of Redacted Records: If a requester wishes to inspect rather than receive a copy of a record and the record contains both public and non-public information, the agency shall redact the non-public information. An agency may not charge the requester for the redaction. However, the Agency may charge for the copies it must make of the redacted material in order for the requester to view the public record. The fee structure outlined above will apply. If, after inspecting the records, the requester chooses to obtain the copies, no additional fee may be charged.
Enhanced Electronic Access : If an agency offers enhanced electronic access to records in addition to making the records accessible for inspection and duplication by a requester, the agency may establish user fees specifically for the provision of the enhanced electronic access, but only to the extent that the enhanced electronic access is in addition to making the records accessible for inspection and duplication by a requester as required by this Act. The user fees for enhanced electronic access may be a flat rate, a subscription fee for a period of time, a per-transaction fee, a fee based on the cumulative time of system access or any other reasonable method and any combination thereof. The user fees for enhanced electronic access must be reasonable, must be pre-approved by the Office of Open Records and shall not be established with the intent or effect of excluding persons from access to records or duplicates thereof or of creating profit for the agency.
Please submit any request to:
Office of Open Records
400 North Street
Harrisburg , PA. 17120.
Fee Limitations: Except as otherwise provided by statute, the law states that no other fees may be imposed unless the agency necessarily incurs costs for complying with the request, and such fees must be reasonable. No fee may be imposed for an agency’s review of a record to determine whether the record is a public record, legislative record or financial record subject to access in accordance with this Act. No fee may be charged for searching for or retrieval of documents. An agency may not charge staff time or salary for complying with a RTK request.
Prepayment: Prior to granting a request for access in accordance with this Act, an agency may require a requester to prepay an estimate of the fees authorized under this section if the fees required to fulfill the request are expected to exceed $100.
Once the request is fulfilled and prepared for release, the Office of Open Records recommends that the agency obtain the cost of the records prior to releasing the records. This recommendation is designed to avoid situations in which the agency provides the records and the requester fails to submit payment.
For further information about the state guidelines and policies, visit the Pennsylvania Open Records website.
“The Mission of the Office of Open Records is to enforce the state’s Right-to-Know law and to serve as a resource for citizens, public officials and members of the media in obtaining public records of their government.”
A Message from the Executive Director
Ensuring open and honest government is a bedrock principle of democracy. It can only be attained through the unfettered exchange of information between citizens and their government. A citizen’s right-to-know, sometimes known as freedom of information, fosters accountability, prevents abuses of power and promotes trust in government. Pennsylvania has codified this important right to access government records in Act 3 of 2008, called the Right-to-Know law.
Governor Edward G. Rendell signed the new Right-To-Know law on February 14, 2008 fundamentally changing the way people access public records of their government. The hallmark of this new law, which fully takes effect January 1, 2009, is its presumption of openness. For the first time in Pennsylvania history, citizens no longer have to prove that a record is public and that it should be released. Now, a government agency must presume that a record is a public record available for inspection or copying. If the government agency chooses to withhold a record, the agency has the burden to prove – with legal citation – why that record should not be available to the public.
The law, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, also established an Office of Open Records. The mission of the Office of Open Records is to enforce the new Right-to-Know law and to serve as a resource to citizens, public officials and members of the media. It is my great privilege to serve as the Commonwealth’s first Executive Director of this independent office. You have my pledge that in this six-year term, I will work tirelessly to ensure compliance with the law and to help citizens, government officials and members of the media better understand their rights and obligations.
I encourage you to look through our website where you will find regularly updated information about the law and a schedule of on-going trainings regarding this new law. I will always welcome your questions, comments and suggestions to improve access to government because I believe that this government does not belong to me, or to any other public official, but rather this government belongs to you.
161 College Avenue
Post Office Box 277
Factoryville, PA 18419