RESOLUTION OF THE BUTTS COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS ESTABLISHING POLICIES FOR COMPLIANCE WITH THE GEORGIA OPEN RECORDS ACT
WHEREAS, Butts County, Georgia is subject to the provisions of the Georgia Open Records Act, codified at O.C.G.A. §§50-18-70 et seq., and
WHEREAS, the Butts County Board of Commissioners, as the governing authority of Butts County, strongly adheres to the principle of open government, encourages public access to public records, and fully supports the public policy expressed by the General Assembly at O.C.G.A. §50-18-70 (a); and
WHEREAS, the Butts County Board of Commissioners finds that policies for compliance with the Open Records Act will enhance Butts County’s ability to comply fully and in all respects with the Open Records Act, while at the same time providing for orderly and efficient responses that will minimize, to the extent possible, disruption in the delivery of other public services that can result from the absence of clear policies addressing responses to Open Records Act requests;
NOW, THEREFORE, it is hereby RESOLVED by the Butts County Board of Commissioners that the following shall constitute Butts County’s Policies for Compliance with the Georgia Open Records Act:
- Under the authority of O.C.G.A. §50-18-71(b)(1)(B), the County Clerk of Butts County is hereby designated as the custodian of this agency’s records and shall serve as the “Open Records Officer” for Butts County.
- One of the purposes of these policies is to have one, and only one, county employee responsible for coordinating Open Record Act responses, in order to insure compliance with the law and to avoid the disruptions and inefficiencies that occur when numerous county employees attempt to respond to requests separately and without coordination among themselves and other departments. The County Clerk is therefore primarily responsible for Open Records Act responses; due to strict time requirements under the law, the County Clerk and his or her supervisor must develop and implement a plan to comply with these policies when the County Clerk is absent for any reason.
- All written requests to inspect or for copies of records maintained by any and all departments under the direction and control of the Butts County Board of Commissioners shall be delivered to the County Clerk. In cases where a person submits a written request to any other employee or agent of Butts County, said employee or agent shall immediately deliver said request to the County Clerk, either personally or by email; for purposes of this policy the term “immediately” shall mean as soon as reasonably possible but in no event more than one (1) business day after the request is received; if the County Clerk is absent or unavailable the written request, if not emailed to the County Clerk, shall be placed in a box or receptacle designated by the County Clerk for that purpose.
- The County Clerk shall maintain a log (either on paper or electronically) recording the date every Open Records Act request is received by the County Clerk, the name and contact information of the person making the request, the date a response to the Request was provided, and a brief summary of the action taken. This log shall itself be a public record open to inspection or copying.
- If the County Clerk has any questions concerning the appropriateness of a request or the Clerk’s response to same, the County Clerk is authorized to contact the County Attorney directly and request assistance with the response.
- In the event a citizen makes an oral request for records to any agent or employee of Butts County other than the County Clerk, said agent or employee shall (1) direct the citizen to the County Clerk as the County’s Open Records Officer, (2) notify the County Clerk of the substance of the request and the name and contact information of the person making the request if available; this notification shall take place in the manner and within the time specified in Section 2 above.
- In the event the County Clerk receives an oral request for records the Clerk shall be authorized to summarize the request in writing and ask the person making the request to sign and date it, but if the citizen fails to do so the Clerk shall process the request in the same manner as if it had been a written request, based on the Clerk’s understanding of the oral request.
- The County Clerk shall provide a written response to every request within three (3) business days following the Clerk’s receipt of the request; in the event the Clerk is not able to make the records themselves available within three (3) business days, the response must notify the citizen making the request of that fact, provide a description of the records that exist or are believed to exist, as well as a good faith timeline for when the records will be available.
- The County Clerk shall be authorized to contact the person making the request and to schedule a time during normal business hours, on a date within the three (3) business days required by law, for the person making the request to inspect the records if personal inspection has been requested. If the records cannot be retrieved and produced within that time period, the Clerk shall notify the requesting party of that fact within three (3) business days after the Clerk’s receipt of the request, and the Clerk shall schedule a time for inspection on a date as close as practical to the date the records will be available. In scheduling all such inspections the Clerk is authorized to take into account his or her normal workload and duties, and to set a time for the inspection that does not unreasonably interfere with the Clerk’s other duties and responsibilities.
- The County Clerk should always give the person making a request the option of having copies made and either mailed (or emailed where practical to do so) to the requestor, or to be picked up by the requestor at a designated location, upon payment of the search and retrieval costs and copying costs allowed by law.
- The first fifteen (15) minutes of time required to search for, retrieve and redact (where necessary) records in response to a request may not be charged to the person making the request. Where more than fifteen (15) minutes of an employee’s time is required to respond to a request, and the charges will exceed $25.00, the County Clerk shall notify the requestor that there will be a charge based on the prorated hourly rate of the lowest paid employee who is qualified to prepare the response, together with an estimate of the final charges to be assessed, and determine if the requestor will agree to paying the charge. The requestor shall have the option of obtaining the records by agreeing to pay the final charge, or cancelling the request. The County Clerk shall not require prepayment of the charge unless the total amount due will exceed $500.00.
- In the event a person fails to pay an agreed upon charge, the County Clerk shall be authorized to: (1) initiate collection proceedings pursuant to O.C.G.A. §50-18-71(c)(3), and (2) require prepayment for any and all future productions to that same person until such time as the costs for all prior productions have been paid or resolved, per O.C.G.A. §50-18-71(d).
- Any person making a request to inspect records shall be permitted to bring his or her own portable copier or scanner and to copy or scan records in a non-destructive manner without the imposition of copying costs, but the search and retrieval costs may still be assessed where permitted by law.
- The County Clerk is encouraged to make public records available through the County’s website, and where such records are available on the County’s website the Clerk may direct requestors to that resource. Notwithstanding this provision, if the request is for the data fields in the electronic format in which the data is kept, the Clerk shall provide such information as required by law.
- Pursuant to law, “No public officer or agency shall be required to prepare new reports, summaries, or compilations not in existence at the time of the request.” O.C.G.A. §50-18-71(j).
- A copy of this Resolution shall be provided to the legal organ the county and shall be posted on the County’s website. The County’s website shall also contain a prominent notice that the County Clerk is the Open Records Officer of Butts County.