City considering increased fees for public records requests

Tonight, the City Commission will consider a request to set a public hearing for July 3 on a proposed fee schedule for record requests.

In 2014, the commission updated the City Attorney’s Office fee schedule for record requests to include:

  • Administrative fee: $15 per request
  • Photocopying fee: $0.50 per page
  • Duplication of video/audio/digital recordings: $15 per CD or other format
  • Duplication of photographs: $10 per sheet, CD or other format

Earlier this year, the city implemented the Zuercher Public Safety Software for electronic storage of public safety records and has since evaluated the time and effort for staff in responding to record requests.

The city legal department is proposing a new fee structure, as follows:

  • Administrative fee: $15 per request, including first five paper copies of records
  • File duplication fee: $0.75 per page for additional paper copies of documents and/or $15 for CD, DVD, jump, pin, flash, thumb drives, secure email or other electronic formats.
  • To be consistent with current practice, the proposal would allow for a waiver of fees to individuals who provide court determinations of their inability to pay and to government agencies on a reciprocal basis.

The information in the public safety software provided by Zuercher includes copies of color photographic evidence integrated with case documentation. These photographs are currently being provided to record requestors as part of a paper package of information, versus being provided in CD format, which the Police Department records has prepared in the past, according to the staff report.

Additionally, most documents in the system include a blue Zuercher footer, substantively increasing costs per page of printed material. That has increased the Criminal Division’s copying costs under the applicable color printer lease agreement, according to the staff report. The increased suggested fee for paper copies reflects the increased color printing costs.

If the resolution is approved, requestors may obtain electronic records and print the information themselves, and avoid paying the higher cost, according to staff.