GRAMA - A small town`s perspective

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RECORD REQUESTS:
A SMALL TOWN’S PERSPECTIVE
Most cities and towns at some point in time receive and
respond to records requests. The Government Records
Access and Management Act ( GRAMA) sets out the basic
information that must be contained in a response but it
does not assist the governmental entity with a
recommended format to use in that written response.
Every city or town approaches this requirement in a
different way and this session will offer attendees with a
small town’s approach to this procedure and provide some
sample formats.
63G-2-201(1) states that “Every person has the right to inspect a public record free of charge,
and the right to take a copy of a public record during normal working hours, subject to 63G-2203 and 63G-2-204.”
•
A person making a request for a record shall furnish the governmental entity with a written request
containing the following, 63G-2-204(1)(a)(b).
1. The person’s name, mailing address, and daytime phone number if available.
2. A description of the record requested that identities the record with reasonable specificity.
•
As soon as reasonably possible but no later than ten business deny after receiving a written request, or
five in the event that the requester demonstrates that expedited response to the records request benefits
the public rather that the person ( the press) the governmental entity shall respond to the request by
doing one of the following 63G-2-204(3)(b)(i)(ii)(iii)(iv):
1. Approve the request.
2. Deny the request
3. Notify the requester that the city/town does not maintain the record and provide, if known, the
name and address of the governmental entity that does maintain the record or
4. Notify the requester that because of one of the extraordinary circumstances listed that the
city/town cannot immediately approve or deny the request
I have prepared some formats for responding to records requests. It might be worth having your attorney
review your responses, as these examples are very fact specific to the Town of Alta’s situation. If legal counsel
is not available in your city or town, please call the League of Cities and Towns and ask for David Church:
801-328-1601
EXAMPLE #1: Responding and providing a record(s): this basic format is used by the
Town of Alta when responding to most records requests.
Date
Address of Requester
Dear Requester,
This letter responds to your GRAMA request dated _________ and received by the Town of Alta (the “Town”) via first class mail, via
fax or via email on __________________.
Request #1: “Restate the request verbatim and put it in quotes”
Response to Request #1: The record(s) responsive to your request is/are enclosed or attached if it is an email response.
Pursuant to Utah Code 63G-2-203(1), the Town may charge a reasonable fee to cover the cost of providing records responsive to a
GRAMA request. The cost of providing you the enclosed record(s) is ______ hours of staff time at $35.00 ( excluding the first 15
minutes)________ in copying costs (__ pages @ $.25/page) and postage of ______ for a total of ______. Accordingly, please forward
a check for _______ at your earliest convenience to Town of Alta, P.O. Box 8016, Alta, Utah 84092-8016.
“If you believe this response to your GRAMA request dated ___________ is improper or inadequate, you may appeal to the following
administrative officer:
Tom Pollard, Mayor
P.O. Box 8016
Alta, Utah 84092-8016
To do so, you must file a notice of appeal with that officer within 30 days of the date of this letter. Your notice of appeal must
contain your name, mailing address, daytime phone number, and an explanation of what you want the administrative officer to do.
You may include a short statement of facts, reasons, and legal authority in support of your appeal.” (appeal language)
Katherine S.W. Black
Town Clerk/Records Manager
EXAMPLE #2: You are sure that your municipality does not have the record(s) being
requested
This letter responds to your GRAMA request dated _________ and received by the Town
of Alta (the “Town”) via first class mail, via fax or via email on __________________.
Request #1: “Restate the request verbatim and put it in quotes”
Response to Request #1: Records responsive to your request do not exist.
Insert appeal language
EXAMPLE #3: You have completed a search and are unable to find record(s) responsive
to this request.
This letter responds to your GRAMA request dated _________ and received by the Town
of Alta (the “Town”) via first class mail, via fax or via email on __________________.
Request #1: “Restate the request verbatim and put it in quotes”
Response to request #1: After a diligent search, the Town has not located any records
responsive to your request.
Pursuant to Utah Code 63G-2-203(1), the Town may charge a reasonable fee to cover
the cost of responding to a GRAMA request. The Town spent _______ of staff time @
$35.00/hour (excluding the first 15 minutes) performing a diligent search for records
responsive to your request. According please forward a check to the Town of Alta, P.O.
Box 8016, Alta, Utah 84092 for _______ at your earliest convenience.
Insert appeal language
EXAMPLE #4: The city /town does not maintain the record(s).
This letter responds to your GRAMA request dated _________ and received by the Town
of Alta (the “Town”) via first class mail, via fax or via email on __________________.
Request #1: “We restate the request verbatim and put it in quotes”
Response to Request #1: Records responsive to your request are not maintained by the
Town of Alta. An example of a response we made regarding information on a pipe line.
“The pipeline about which you have requested information is classified as a service
lateral. All service laterals connected to the Town’s water system that serve private
property are owned and maintained by the individual property owner serviced by the
respective lateral. The Town does not maintain or have in its possession engineering
drawing related to the service lateral to the _________ building and cannot produce a
copy to you. “
Insert appeal language
EXAMPLE # 5: Your municipality has classified the record as private and protected
because of security of government property.
This letter responds to your GRAMA request dated _________ and received by the Town
of Alta (the “Town”) via first class mail, via fax or via email on __________________.
Request #1: “We restate the request verbatim and put it in quotes”
Response to Request #1: The record response to your request has been classified as
protected under Utah Code 63G-2-305(11): “records the disclosure of which would
jeopardize the security of government property. “ Accordingly, your request for a copy of
“restate the record that is being requested and are withholding” is denied. See Utah
Code Ann 63G-2-201(5)(a).
Insert appeal language
EXAMPLE #6: In example #5 the requester appealed the Town’s response to the Mayor
who is the Town of Alta’s administrative officer. This is Town’s response to that appeal
letter.
This letter responds to your Notice of Appeal dated _____________ and received by the Town of Alta (the “Town”)
via first class mail on ______________. Your appeal challenges the Town’s initial response to your GRAMA request
dated _________, more specifically #3 of that request which stated:
“Restate the request”
The initial Town’s response was as follows:
“We restate the response”
The Town then further elaborated its reasons why it denied the request:
“The Town does not take this classification lightly and sees this as a necessary action to protect infrastructure and
the people depending on the delivery of safe drinking water. The State Records Committee has previously
determined that records such as the map you requested are properly classified as protected because “disclosure of
those records would jeopardize the security of the water and sewer infrastructure of the Town”. See State Records
Committee Appeal 03-07. Therefore your appeal of the Town’s response to Request #3 is denied.
“If you believe this response to your Notice of Appeal dated _______ is improper or inadequate, you may appeal to
the State Records Committee or directly to the District Court. To do so you must file a Notice of Appeal with the
State Records Committee or the District Court within 30 Days of the date of this letter.”(appeal language)
Sincerely,
Tom Pollard
Mayor
EXAMPLE #7: If the municipality cannot approve or deny the requester within 10 business
days, it must rely on one of the extraordinary circumstances listed in 63G-2-204(5)&(6) and
the response should follow procedure and rules outlined in these sections. The Town’s
response below used section 63G-2-204(5)(e).
This letter responds to your records request dated _____________ and received by the Town
of Alta (the “Town”) via first class mail on ______________. Due to the extraordinary
circumstance described below, the Town cannot immediately approve or deny your request.
See Utah Code 63G-2-204(3)(b)(iv).
Your GRAMA request dated _______________ and received by the Town of Alta (the
“Town”) via first class mail on ______________________, lists eleven record requests that
may exist in several different places in the Town’s records. Accordingly staff must review a
large number of records to locate the records you have requested. See Utah code Ann. 63G2-204(5)(e). This review is time consuming and the Town’s staff is small; therefore the Town
cannot locate the records you have requested within the time limit for responding to your
request.
The Town estimates that it will be able to complete its review, locate the records you have
requested, and respond to your GRAMA request on or before __________________. See
Utah Code Ann 63G-2-204(6)(c)(ii).
Insert appeal language
Example #8: The municipality receives a request for records that have been destroyed
per the Municipal General Retention Schedule,
This letter responds to your GRAMA request dated _________ and received by the Town
of Alta (the “Town”) via first class mail, via fax or via email on __________________.
Request #1: “A copy of TOA check #’s 1008 dated 3-19-2001, 1009 dated 3-30-2001……..”
Response to Request #1: Pursuant to Utah Code Ann. 63G-2-604(1)(c), and the
Municipal General Records Retention Schedule for retention of records set forth by the
Utah State Archives & Record Service, checks and invoices from fiscal years 2001-2002
and earlier have been destroyed. Accordingly, records responsive to your request do not
exist.
Insert appeal language
Example #9: The municipality receives a request for information and data on
individuals that need to be protected.
This letter responds to your GRAMA request dated _________ and received by the
Town of Alta (the “Town”) via first class mail, via fax or via email on ______________.
Request #1: “All incident reports related to “a particular street address in Alta”.
Response to Request #1: Records responsive to your request are enclosed subject to
redactions to protect personal identification information and data on individuals
pursuant to Utah Code 63G-2-302(2)(d) and 63G-2-305(10). Digital media related to
the aforementioned request have been withheld as the release of this information
could reasonably be expected to interfere with an ongoing investigation pursuant to
Utah Code 63G-2-305(9).
Insert appeal language
Example #10: The municipality receives a records request about an entity that is not
operated by the municipality.
This letter responds to your GRAMA request dated _________ and received by the
Town of Alta (the “Town”) via first class mail, via fax or via email on _______________.
Request #1: “A copy of the Sewer Special Improvement District Service area map, the
fee connection schedule, the number and location of all connections.”
Response to Request #1: The Town does not operate a “Sewer Improvement District”
and therefore records responsive to your request do not exist.
Insert appeal language.
Example #11: The municipality receives a request for records that you believe the
requester already has in their possession.
This letter responds to your GRAMA request dated _________ and received by the
Town of Alta (the “Town”) via first class mail, via fax or via email on _____________.
Request #1: Documents regarding any proposed transfer or assignments of any
water supply contracts from Little Cottonwood Water Company to the TOA for the
past 10 years.
Response to Request #1: During the course of your previous litigation with the
Town (Civil Case No. 030914055), you copied all public records in possession of the
Town for the time period to include August 1970 (the Town’s incorporation) through
June 24, 2005. Accordingly, records responsive to your Request #1 dated June 24,
2005 or prior are already in your possession. At this time, the Town cannot approve
or deny your Request #1 as it pertains to records dated after June 24, 2005 because
doing so will require review of a large number of records to locate the records you
have requested. See Utah Code Ann. § 63G-2-204(5)(e). The Town estimates that it
will take 8 hours of staff time, spread over a period of three weeks, to perform a
complete search of the Town’s records to identify records responsive to your
Request #1 dated after June 24, 2005.
Insert appeal language
Example #12: Let’s say you anticipate that the cost of providing a record to the
requester will exceed $50.00
This letter responds to your GRAMA request dated _________ and received by the
Town of Alta (the “Town”) via first class mail, via fax or via email on ______________.
Pursuant to Utah Code 63G-2-203(8)(a)(i), a governmental entity may require
payment of future estimated fees before beginning to process a request if fees are
expected to exceed $50.00 . The estimated costs of providing you the records
responsive to your _________ records request are $175.00 in copying costs (700
copies @ $.25 per page), 3.5 hours of staff time @ $35.00 per hour (excluding the first
15 minutes) and $11.35 for postage for a total of $308.85. Accordingly upon receipt of
your payment for$308.85, the Town will process your request and will forward you
records responsive to your date records request.
Insert appeal language
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