Public Records Policy

Access to Public Records Policy

The purpose of this policy is to assure compliance with the Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law, Act 3 of 2008, to provide access to public records of the Borough of Fox Chapel (“Borough”), to preserve the integrity of the 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.

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. Borough Council designates the Borough Secretary as the person responsible for assuring compliance with the Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law, in accordance with the following guidelines:

1. The Borough Secretary may designate certain employee(s) to process public record requests.

2. The Borough Secretary 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. All requests for public records of the Borough under this policy shall be specific in identifying and describing each public record requested. In no case shall the Borough be required to create a public record which does not exist or to compile, maintain, format or organize a public record in a manner in which the Borough does not currently compile, maintain, format or organize the public record. All requests for public records must be submitted in writing and on a form provided by the Borough as provided hereto entitled “Standard Right-to-Know Request Form.”

4. The designated employee shall make a good faith effort to determine whether each record requested is a public record.

5. The Borough shall facilitate a reasonable response to a request for public records. In no case is the Borough expected to provide extraordinary staff to respond to any request, but will respond in a manner consistent with the Borough’s administrative responsibilities and consistent with the requirements of the Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law.

6. The designated employee shall respond to the requester within five (5) business days from the date of receipt of the written request. If the Borough does not respond within five (5) business days of receipt thereof, the request is deemed denied.

7. The response provided by the Borough shall consist of (1) approval for access to the public record; (2) review of the request by the designated employee; or (3) denial of access to the record requested.

8. If access to the public record requested is approved, the public record shall be available for access during the regular business hours of the Borough. The designated employee shall cooperate fully with the requester, while also taking reasonable measures to protect the Borough’s 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.

9. Fees for duplication of public records shall be as follows:

a) Photocopying: 25 cents ($0.25) per page.
b) Certified copies: $1.00 per page.
c) Postage: actual cost to the Borough of mailing the public record.

The Borough may in its sole discretion waive fees.

10. In the event that the estimated cost of fulfilling a request submitted under this policy is expected to exceed $100.00, the designated employee(s) shall obtain fifty percent (50%) of the expected cost in advance of fulfilling the request to avoid an unwarranted expense impact on Borough resources.

11. If the request is being reviewed, the notice provided by the Borough shall be in writing and include the reason for the review and the expected response date, which shall be within thirty (30) days of the notice of review. If the Borough does not respond within thirty (30) days thereof, the request is deemed denied. Review of the request is limited to situations where:

a) The record requested contains information which is subject to access, as well as information which is not subject to access that must be redacted prior to a grant of access. The redacted information is considered a denial as to that information;
b) The record requires retrieval from a remote location;
c) A timely response cannot be accomplished due to staffing limitations;
d) A legal review is necessary as, for example, for the purpose of determining whether the record requested is a public record;
e) The requester has failed to comply with the Borough’s policy and procedure requirements; or
f) The requester refuses to pay the applicable fees.

12. If access to the record requested is denied, the notice provided by the Borough shall be in writing on the form entitled “Denial of Request to Review and/or Duplicate.”

13. If the request is denied or deemed denied, the requester may file exceptions with the Borough 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 exceptions must:

a) Indicate the date of the original request;
b) Identify and describe the record(s) requested;
c) State the grounds upon which the requester asserts the record(s) is a public record; and
d) Address any grounds stated by the Borough in its notice of denial.

14. The Borough Secretary shall review the exceptions and may conduct a hearing to assist in making a final determination. A final determination will be made within thirty (30) days of the mailing date of the exceptions, unless this time limitation is extended by the parties. If the denial is upheld, the decision shall contain a written explanation of the reason for denial and an explanation of the process for further appeal.

15. This policy shall be posted conspicuously at the Borough Building and on the Borough’s website.

16. This policy shall take effect on January 1, 2009.

Send Right to Know Request Form to:

Dana A. Abate
Borough Secretary
Borough of Fox Chapel
401 Fox Chapel Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15238
dabate@fox-chapel.pa.us