LAWRENCE COUNTY

 

 

 

PENNSYLVANIA

COMMISSIONERS OFFICE

LAWRENCE COUNTY
GOVERNMENT CENTER
430 COURT STREET
NEW CASTLE, PA. 16101
(724) 658-2541

Hours: 8:00 am to 4:00 pm
Mon - Fri

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LAWRENCE COUNTY RIGHT TO KNOW POLICY

Continue on to: RIGHT-TO-KNOW REQUEST FORM

 

Effective:  January 1, 2009

100     Purpose and Effective Date

On June 29, 2002, Act 100 of 2002 passed into law amending the Pennsylvania Right-To-Know Law (65 P.S. 66.1 et seq).  The Act governs the rights of the public to inspect and obtain copies of Public records.  The effective date of the Act is December 21, 2002.

101     Open Records Officer

The County Administrator is designated as the Open Records Officer for all public records request.  Written requests received by other offices in County government shall be forwarded to the County Administrator upon receipt.

102     Public Records

Unless otherwise provided for by law, a public record, legislative record or financial record shall be accessible for inspection and duplication in accordance with the Act. 

103     Inspection

Public records are open to inspection and for duplication during normal office hours, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, except for holidays, subject to the regulations set forth herein.

104     Format

A public record must be provided to a Requester in the medium requested, if it exists in that medium.  Otherwise, it will be provided in the medium in which it exists.  The County will provide copies of identifiable and existing public records but is not required to synthesize, compile, maintain, format, convert, or organize records in response to a request.  Further, the County shall not be required to organize a record in a manner which is not currently compiled, maintained or formatted.  Nevertheless, the County may choose to do so for an appropriate fee.

105     Request for Public Records

An individual may verbally request Public records from the office or department which has custody of those records. If the Requester seeks to pursue the rights, relief, or remedies under the Right-To-Know-Law the request for records must be in writing and shall:

  • Be addressed to the County’s Open Records Officer.
  • Provide the name and residence of the person requesting the records.
  • Provide a mailing address to which a written reply and/or the requested information can be sent.
  • Provide a phone number where the requester can be contacted.
  • Identify or describe the specific records being sought.  The request must be sufficiently specific to enable the County to ascertain which records are being requested, and include the date of the information requested as well as type of information, and the County office or department which has custody of the record.
  • Agree to reimburse the cost of reproducing the records requested, and if the cost of reproducing the records exceeds $100, include a deposit equal to the lesser of $100 or 25% of the estimated cost of reproducing the records.  The balance shall be due and payable at the time the records are delivered.


106     Redaction

The County will grant access to public records according to statutory requirements and this Policy.  The County will separate and exclude any records which are not public records or which are otherwise excluded or exempted from the definition of public records.  If information which Is not subject to access is an integral part of a public record and cannot be separated, the County shall redact from the public record the information which is not subject to access and the response shall grant access only to the information which is subject to access.

107     The County’s Response and Time for Response

Once a written request for public records has been received by the designated contact person for the office with custody of the records, if the records have not already been provided pursuant to a verbal request, the office with custody of the records shall respond to the request within five (5) business days in one of the following manners:

  • The requested records will be provided or the requester will be notified that the request will be fulfilled upon the payment of a fee; or
  • The request will be denied.  If a request is denied in whole or in part, the denial will contain a description of the records requested, the reasons for the denial, including citation of supporting legal authority, the name, title, business address, business telephone number, and signature of the person on whose authority the denial is issued, a date of the response, and the procedure to appeal the denial of access under the Right-To-Know Law; or
  • If the County determines that:

     -The requested records require redaction (blacking out of sections of the records that are not public).

-The requested records require retrieval from remote location.

-The requested records require legal review.

-The Requester has not compiled with the Right-To-Know Law or County’s Policy.

-A timely response cannot be made due to staffing limitations.

 the County will send written notice that the request is being reviewed, the reason for the review, and a reasonable date by which a response is expected to be provided.

  • If the Requester refuses to pay the applicable fees set forth by this Policy, then the Requester will be informed in writing that the request is denied for that reason, which will include a description of the record requested, the name, title, telephone number, and signature of the denying public official or employee, date of the response, and appeal procedure.

If the County’s response is a denial of access, a written response shall be issued which will include a description of the record requested, the specific reasons for the denial with a citation of the supporting legal authority, the name, title, telephone number, and signature of the denying public official or employee, date of the response, and appeal procedure.

108     Exceptions

Exceptions for public records requests are identified in Section 708 of the Act.

109     Denial

If the County shall deny a written request for access, the denial shall be issued in writing and shall include:

  • A description of the record requested.
  • The specific reasons for the denial, including a citation of supporting legal authority.
  • The typed or printed name, title, business address, business telephone number and signature of the open-records on whose authority the denial is issued.
  • Date of the response.
  • The procedure to appeal the denial of access under the Act.

 

110     Fees

A request for copies of public records or information produced therefrom must be accompanied by payment of fees to cover the direct cost of duplication as set forth below:

  • Fees for the actual cost of mailing.
  • Customary fees per page charged by the office or department with custody of the records for duplication by photocopying or printing or other means of duplication.
  • Customary fees for official certification if requested by the requester.
  • Fees to cover other types of reproduction costs, including conversion, electronic access, etc., and
  • Allowable additional actual costs incurred by the County which are necessary for complying with the request.

A copy of the fee schedule is available in the office of the County Administrator and may be found on the County’s Web site.

The existing fee schedule is as follows:

 

                 Record Type                                                                         Fee          

 

Copies                                                                                            $.25 per page

Certification of a Record                                                           $1.00 per record                                                                                                          (not per page)

Specialized Documents                                                            Actual Cost

Facsimile/Microfiche/Other Media                                           Actual Cost

Conversion to Paper                                                                  Actual Cost or $.25                                                                                                           per page, whichever is less.                                                              

111     Electronic Access

The County may make enhanced electronic assess available on a yearly subscription basis to selected Lawrence County records via the Internet on a flat rate, subscription fee for a period of time, a per transaction fee, a fee based on cumulative time on the system, or any other reasonable method or combination thereof.

 

LAWRENCE COUNTY RIGHT-TO-KNOW LAW

TIMETABLE

The Right-To-Know Law imposes a strict timetable on the County for responses to Right-To-Know Law requests.  The following is a general outline of the timetable.

1.  Receipt of written request.

2.  County must respond within five (5) business days.

3.  Exceptions:

A.     Exceptions still require a letter within five (5) business days from the County, however, the letter will advise the requester that an exception applies which will authorize the County an additional thirty (30) days.

B.     The exceptions generally can be classified as:

1.      Public Records which require retrieval, redaction or legal review; or

2.      The County has determined that the requester has not complied with the County’s policy, refuses to pay the applicable fees or the County ha staffing limits which prevent compliance.

4.  In all cases, failure by the County to respond within five (5) business days is  deemed a denial.

5.  Written response of denial requires the following:

     A.  Description of the record requested

     B.  Specific reasons request is denied

C.    Who authorized the denial

D.    Date of the response

E.     Procedure for appeal

6.  Appeal.  Any appeal from a County action shall be made to the Commonwealth’s Office of Open Records Appeal Officer.

7.  Final Determination.  The County shall make a final determination within thirty (30) days of the mailing date of the appeal in the nature of exceptions.

Any request for information or assistance should be directed to the County Solicitor’s office to be contacted at 724-656-2150.



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