In an effort to improve the process in releasing public records, the Baldwin County , Alabama Commission made a decision to change its existing policy. On the other hand, this kind of idea may complicate the usual procedure and force the public to even spend more.
The decision likewise involved the attorney general opinions on this matter.
According from the news information shared through lagniappemobile.com, the Baldwin County Commission decided to alter the usual procedure in accessing public records as reported on February 2017. However, the new policy someone confuses the process and might even cost the public more once they begin to submit their requests.
As stated by the Alabama Public Records Law, every law abiding citizen has the prerogative to verify and take the needed copy of a public document of the state, except if specifically provided by the statute. This somehow involved the opinions of the attorney general in line with the latest imposed policy.
In line with this, the attorney general opinions is permitting the involved governing agency to collect service fees to people who search and collect public data, but must be in reasonable amount online. After complying with the guidelines and paying the required fees, they can have the copies of retrieved and released records.
The commission easily approved the new policy in accessing public documents and regarding the amount of to compensate for the request, the agency provides the exact computation. Based on the information they released, a person may pay for the attorney fees when reviewing the request in determining if the release of the data is legitimate. In case it exceeds the $225 (hourly bill), there will be specific additional charges.
From the statement of the Office of the Attorney General, it says that if a request for the public records needs the legitimate agency to require for legal expenses, it is “a ministerial function, the costs of which should be born [sic] by the public as a whole. Assessing legal fees against a citizen to enable the custodian to decide whether his or her records are public would seriously restrict access to public records.”
This statement came from the opinions of the attorney general back in 1998, which the new policy clearly contradicts.
The news information added that with the updated policy when accessing public data, there is a required advance payment from the client in case the in-charge personnel determined an over 60 minutes before they can respond the submitted request. In addition, there will be an added payment if the extension exceeds at least 15 minutes.
The charges however are minimal and follow the exact rate, yet it remains a burden for the person who is requesting for the data.
This latest policy changed is a proposal of Commission Chairman Chris Elliot as well as County Administrator Ron Cink as mentioned by Commissioner Charles Gruber. According to him, the additional costs when requesting public records in the state will help the government recuperate from its overall expense and serving the people more effectively.