Motion to Charge for Responses to APRA Requests
At the January Town Council Meeting, Town Council member George Tremblay made a motion to have the Town Administrator and Town Solicitor draft a new policy on user fees for Access to Public Records Act services. One hour of service without charge could be allowed to accommodate the needs of most requests for a few documents, while larger requests would pay a fee. Some recent requests have been for thousands of pages of records. At the January Town Council meeting Mr. Tremblay made the following proposal which was passed by the rest of the Council. The results will be presented to the Town Council at the February 10 meeting. Below is the January motion.
Background: The steady demand for documents to comply with the Access to Public Records Act (APRA) prompted me to inquire of staff time and other resources expended in meeting that demand. I learned the following:
All department heads are often engaged in responding to a single APRA request.
Responses to the bulk of APRA requests are provided by the Town Clerk, who serves as the Town’s designated Public Records Officer but, depending on the nature of the request, department heads may also respond independently.
In all, the Town Hall routinely processes APRA requests for 20 to 40 documents each month.
The Town Clerk alone has spent anywhere from 15 min to 60 hrs to comply with a single APRA request.
Compliance has required supplying anywhere from a 1-page document to a combination of 3,208 pages, 3 full-page maps, and 9 DVDs to meet a single request.
Obviously, costs in time, effort, consumable supplies, and equipment, currently borne by the taxpayer, are not trivial.
The law allows 1 hour of service without charge, which should easily accommodate the needs of the vast majority of the general public in obtaining a single document.
Accordingly, I move that the Town Administrator, in consultation with the Town Solicitor, draft a policy that charges user fees for APRA services, to the full extent allowed by law.