Chapter 1.24
PUBLIC RECORDS

Sections:

1.24.010    Purpose and policy declared.

1.24.020    Public records officers.

1.24.030    Maintenance of records.

1.24.040    Index of public records – Findings.

1.24.050    Index of public records – Order.

1.24.060    Disclosure of public records.

1.24.070    Procedure for inspection or copying of public records.

1.24.080    Processing public records requests – Review.

1.24.090    Exemptions.

1.24.100    Reimbursement for copying costs.

1.24.110    Model rules and administrative procedures.

1.24.010 Purpose and policy declared.

The city of Hoquiam supports the policy of the Public Records Act to provide citizens with broad access to public records. This chapter constitutes the city’s rules of procedure to carry out and implement the Public Records Act, Chapter 42.56 RCW. (Ord. 09-05 § 1, 2009).

1.24.020 Public records officers.

The city finance director shall serve as the public records officer for all city of Hoquiam public records except those maintained by the Hoquiam police department or the Hoquiam fire department. The Hoquiam police chief, or his or her designee, shall serve as the public records officer for all records maintained by the Hoquiam police department. The Hoquiam fire chief, or his or her designee, shall serve as the public records officer for all records maintained by the Hoquiam fire department. Contact information for the city finance director, city police chief, and the city fire chief shall be posted at City Hall, the Hoquiam police department station, the Hoquiam fire department headquarters station, and on the city’s Internet website. (Ord. 09-05 § 1, 2009).

1.24.030 Maintenance of records.

(1) All substantive and procedural rules of general applicability, including but not limited to ordinances and resolutions of the city council, minutes of the regular meetings of the city council, and statements of general policy, and all public contracts, deeds, easements and leases, shall be maintained by the city finance director.

(2) All police records shall be maintained in the Hoquiam police department. Access to police records shall be in accordance with the policy established by the Hoquiam police department, pursuant to laws including but not limited to Chapter 42.56 RCW (Public Records Act), Chapter 10.97 RCW (Washington State Criminal Records Privacy Act), and Chapter 13.50 RCW (Keeping and Release of Records by Juvenile Justice or Care Agencies).

(3) All fire records, including ambulance service records, shall be maintained in the Hoquiam fire department. Access to fire records shall be in accordance with the policy established by the Hoquiam fire department, pursuant to laws including but not limited to Chapter 42.56 RCW (Public Records Act), Chapter 70.02 RCW (Medical Records – Health Care Information Access and Disclosure), and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).

(4) All other records of the city relating to the specific function or responsibility of a particular department shall be maintained for the use of the department and the general public in the office of the particular department. Such records shall include, but not be limited to: planning policies and goals, and interim and final planning decisions; factual staff reports and studies; factual consultant’s reports and studies; scientific reports and studies; and any other factual information derived from tests, studies, reports or surveys, whether conducted by city employees or others. (Ord. 09-05 § 1, 2009).

1.24.040 Index of public records – Findings.

(1) The Public Records Act requires all cities and public agencies to maintain and make available a current index of all public records. RCW 42.56.070(4) provides that an agency or city need not maintain such an index if to do so would be unduly burdensome.

(2) The city of Hoquiam is comprised of numerous departments, their divisions and subdivisions, many if not all of which maintain separate databases and/or systems for the indexing of records and information. In addition, the city of Hoquiam has been in existence since 1890, long before the enactment of Chapter 42.56 RCW, and therefore public records were generated and maintained for decades prior to the requirement to maintain a current index of all public records.

(3) Because the city of Hoquiam has records which are diverse, complex, and stored in multiple locations and in multiple computer systems, formats, and/or databases, it is unduly burdensome, if not physically impossible, to maintain a current index of all records. (Ord. 09-05 § 1, 2009).

1.24.050 Index of public records – Order.

Based upon the findings set forth in HMC 1.24.040, and pursuant to RCW 42.45.070(4), the city council orders the following:

(1) The city of Hoquiam is not required to maintain an all-inclusive index of public records due to the undue burden of maintaining such an index.

(2) The city will make available for inspection and/or copying all public records, including any indexes that may be maintained by individual departments, except to the extent that such records are exempt from public disclosure. (Ord. 09-05 § 1, 2009).

1.24.060 Disclosure of public records.

Unless exempt from disclosure under this chapter or other law, public records shall be available for inspection and copying in accordance with this chapter. (Ord. 09-05 § 1, 2009).

1.24.070 Procedure for inspection or copying of public records.

(1) All persons desiring to inspect or obtain a copy of any public record must make their request in writing to the city finance director, the Hoquiam police chief, or the Hoquiam fire chief, whichever is applicable. The finance director shall create and provide for public use a standard public records disclosure request form. This form shall enable a requestor to specify particular public records and provide the requestor’s relevant contact information. Reasonable assistance as may be necessary to help the requestor locate particular records shall be provided either by the city finance director or by the city department maintaining the records; provided, that the provision of such assistance shall not unreasonably disrupt the normal operations of the finance director, the department, or the assisting employee.

(2) Except to the extent required or authorized by law, the finance director or other city employee shall not distinguish among persons requesting records. Persons requesting records shall not be required to provide information as to the purpose for the request, except to establish whether the inspection or copying would violate Chapter 42.56 RCW or other statute or ordinance that exempts or prohibits disclosure of specific information or records to certain persons. (Ord. 09-05 § 1, 2009).

1.24.080 Processing public records requests – Review.

(1) Responses to requests for public records shall be made promptly pursuant to Chapter 42.56 RCW. Within five business days of the date of receipt by the city of a written request for a public record, the finance director, police chief, or fire chief, whichever is applicable, shall:

(a) Provide the record or make it available for copying; or

(b) Acknowledge that the city has received the request and either provide a reasonable estimate of the time that the city will require to respond to the request, or request clarification; or

(c) Deny the public record request in whole or in part.

(2) Public records may be made available on a partial or installment basis as records that are part of a larger set of requested records are assembled or made ready for public inspection or copying. Additional time to respond to a request may be based upon the need to clarify the intent of the request, to locate and assemble the information requested, to notify third persons or agencies affected by the request, or to determine whether any of the information requested is exempt. If a public records request is unclear, the finance director or other city employee may ask the requestor to clarify what information the requestor is requesting. If the requestor fails to clarify the request, the city need not further respond to or process the request.

(3) If the finance director, police chief, or fire chief, whichever is applicable, determines that the document is exempt in part but can be made available after deletion or redaction of exempt portions, the request shall be granted; provided, that such exempt portions shall first be deleted or redacted. If the finance director, police chief, or fire chief determines to deny the request, in whole or in part, a written statement of the specific reasons for the denial shall be provided to the requestor; provided, that nothing herein shall be construed as requiring the city to disclose portions of a requested document if the entire document is exempt from disclosure.

(4) In the event that the finance director, police chief, or fire chief denies inspection of all or any part of a requested public record, the city official may seek review by the city attorney. The city official will notify the requestor by mail of the decision to grant or deny the request. (Ord. 09-05 § 1, 2009).

1.24.090 Exemptions.

The city adopts by reference the exemptions from public disclosure contained in Chapter 42.56 RCW, including any future amendments thereto or recodification thereof, along with any other exemption or exception to the Public Records Act provided by law. (Ord. 09-05 § 1, 2009).

1.24.100 Reimbursement for copying costs.

(1) No fee shall be charged for the inspection of public records. Any person who requests a copy of any public record from the city shall pay to the city a copying charge. The copying charges for public records which can be photocopied shall be fifteen cents per page. The copying charges for other items, including photographs, audio tape recordings, and video tape recordings, shall be the actual cost of duplication. Nothing herein shall be construed to apply to charges for accident reports pursuant to RCW 46.52.085.

(2) The city may charge all costs directly incident to shipping public records, including but not limited to the cost of postage or delivery charges and the cost of any container or envelope pursuant to RCW 42.56.070(7).

(3) The city may, at its discretion, require the requestor to deposit a sum in an amount not to exceed ten percent of the estimated cost of providing copies for a request. If the records are made available on a partial or installment basis, the city may charge for each part of the request as it is provided. If an installment of a records request is not paid for or reviewed within twenty days after the city provides notice of availability of the installment, the city is not obligated to fulfill the balance of the request. (Ord. 09-05 § 1, 2009).

1.24.110 Model rules and administrative procedures.

The city may, in its discretion, follow the Public Records Act Model Rules promulgated by the Washington State Attorney General’s office. The mayor, upon recommendation of the finance director, may issue additional administrative procedures for the implementation of this chapter. (Ord. 09-05 § 1, 2009).