Right-To-Know and Open Records Policy
LOWER SAUCON AUTHORITY OPEN RECORDS POLICY
Section 1 – Purpose
The purpose of this policy is to assure compliance with Act 3 of 2008, the Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law, as amended (the “Law”), to provide access to public records of Lower Saucon Authority (the “Authority”), to preserve the integrity of the Authority’s records, and to minimize the financial impact to the residents of the Authority regarding the resources utilized in the receipt and processing of public record requests and the retrieval and copying of public records.
Section 2 – Designating Open Records Officer
The Authority has designated an Open Records Officer to respond to requests under the Law. The Open Records Officer’s contact information is as follows:
- William G. Ross
- Attn: Open Records Officer
- Lower Saucon Authority
- 3706 Old Philadelphia Road
- Bethlehem, PA 18015
- Phone – 610-317-3212
- Fax – 610-317-3216
- Email – Administrator@lowersauconauthority.org
It is the policy of the Authority to require the presence of a designated employee when public records are examined and inspected and to charge reasonable fees for duplicating of public records of the Authority.
William G. Ross is the Authority’s Open Records Officer. The name of the individual serving in the position of Open Records Officer shall be posted on the Authority website and on the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records’ website. The Open Records Officer shall be responsible for assuring compliance with the Law, in accordance with the following guidelines.
- The Open Records Officer may designate certain employee(s) to process public record requests.
- The Open Records Officer is responsible for minimizing, where possible, the financial impact to the Authority regarding the resources utilized in the receipt and processing of public record requests and the retrieval and copying of public records.
Section 3 – Request for Open Records
- All requests for public records of the Authority under this policy shall be specific in identifying and describing each public record requested. In no case shall the Authority be required to create a public record which does not exist or to compile, maintain, format, or organize a public record in a manner which the Authority does not currently compile, maintain, format, or organize the public record. All requests for public records shall be submitted in writing and shall include the date of the request, requester’s name, address, telephone number, and email address, if requesting electronic copies, and if duplication is requested, appropriate payment. The Standard Right-to-Know Law Request Form is attached hereto as Exhibit “A” and can be accessed on the Authority website and on the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records’ website.
- The Open Records Officer or designee shall make a good faith effort to determine whether each record requested is a public record.
- The Authority shall facilitate a reasonable response to a request for the Authority’s public records. In no case is the Authority expected to provide extraordinary staff to respond to the request, but will respond in a manner consistent with the Authority’s administrative responsibilities and consistent with the requirements of the Law.
- The Open Records Officer shall respond to the requester within five (5) business days from the date of the Open Records Officer’s receipt of the written request. Any request that is sent after the close of regular business hours or during a time that the Open Records Officer is not in the office shall be deemed to be received on the next business day. If the Open Records Officer does not respond within five (5) business days of the receipt thereof, the request is deemed denied. The regular business hours of the Authority are Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. Business days exclude Saturday, Sunday, and any weekday on which the Authority is closed for business.
- The Open Records Officer may grant a request, partially grant and partially deny a request, or deny a request in its entirety. The final response of the Open Records Officer shall be in writing. Should the Open Records Officer fail to issue a response within the applicable response period, the request is deemed denied.
- Granting access to records. The Open Records Officer may grant a request for records by issuing a response: (1) granting access to inspect Authority records during the Authority’s regular business hours; (2) sending copies of the records to the requester; or (3) by notifying the requester that the records are available on the Authority website or other publicly accessible electronic means.
- Denying or partially denying access to records. Should the Open Records Officer deny or partially deny a request for records through redaction or otherwise, the Open Records Officer will inform the requester of the denial or partial denial in writing. The response will describe the requested records, inform the requester that the Authority does not possess the responsive records or, if the records are exempt from public access, provide a citation to the relevant legal basis for withholding the requested records. Additionally, the response will provide the name, signature, title, business address, and telephone number of the Open Records Officer who denied the request, as well as the date of the response and the procedure to appeal the denial.
- If access to the public record requested is approved, the public record shall be available for access during the regular business hours of the Authority. The designated employee shall cooperate fully with the requester, while also taking reasonable measures to protect Authority public records from the possibility of theft and/or modification. The presence of a designated employee is required when public records are examined and inspected.
- The Authority may fulfill verbal, written, or anonymous verbal or written requests for access to records. However, if the requester wishes to pursue the relief and remedies provided for in the Law, the request for access to records must be a written request.
- A record being provided to a requester shall be provided in the medium requested if it exists in that medium; otherwise, it shall be provided in the medium in which it exists.
Section 4 – Extended Responses
- If the request requires an extensive review by the Open Records Officer, the Open Records Officer shall send a written notice to the requester within five (5) business days of receipt of the request for access. The notice shall include a statement notifying the requester that the request for access is being reviewed, the reason for the review, and a reasonable date that a response is expected to be provided. If the date that a response is expected to be provided is in excess of thirty (30) days, following the five (5) business days allowed for, the request for access shall be deemed denied, unless the requester has agreed in writing to an extension to the date specified in the notice. If the requester agrees to the extension, the request shall be deemed denied on the day following the date specified in the notice if the Authority has not provided a response by that date.
- Review of the request is limited to situations where:
- The record requested contains information, which is subject to access, as well as information, which is not subject to access that must be redacted prior to a grant of access. The redacted information is considered a denial as to that information;
- The record required retrieval from a remote location;
- A timely response cannot be accomplished due to staffing limitations;
- A legal review is necessary to determine whether the record requested is a public record;
- The requester has failed to comply with the Authority’s policy and procedure requirements;
- The requester refuses to pay the applicable fees; or
- The extent or nature of the request precludes a response within the required time period.
Section 5 – Fees
The Open Records Officer will charge fees consistent with the Law’s Fee Structure, available at https://www.openrecords.pa.gov/RTKL/FeeStructure.cfm, as updated from time to time. Revisions to the Office of Open Records – Official RTKL Fee Schedule can be accessed on the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records’ website, as noted above.
Section 6 – Appeals
- To challenge the denial, partial denial, or deemed denial of a request for Authority records, an appeal may be filed using the OOR appeal form, available at http://www.openrecords.pa.gov/Appeals/AppealForm.cfm, or by contacting the Office of Open Records at the following address:
- Office of Open Records
- Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
- 333 Market St., 16th Floor
- Harrisburg, PA 17101-2234
- All appeals must be filed within 15 business days of the mailing date of the Open Records Officer’s denial, partial denial, or deemed denial of the request. All appeals must be in writing, must state the grounds upon which the requester asserts that the requested records are public records, must address any grounds stated by the Open Records Officer for denying the request, and must include a copy of the request and the Open Records Officer’s response, if any.
Section 7 – Additional Information about the RTKL
Additional information about the Law, the request process, and the appeal process is available on the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records’ website at https://www.openrecords.pa.gov.
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