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Village of Hicksville

PUBLIC RECORDS POLICY

Public Records

The Village of Hicksville, Ohio, in accordance with the Ohio Revised Code, defines records as including the following: Any document – paper, electronic (including, but not limited to, e-mail), or other format – that is created or received by, or comes under the jurisdiction of a public office that documents the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities of the office. All records of the Village of Hicksville are public unless they are specifically exempt from disclosure under the Ohio Revised Code.

It is the policy of the Village of Hicksville that, as required by Ohio law, records will be organized and maintained so that they are readily available for inspection and copying. Record retention schedules are to be updated regularly and posted prominently.

Record Requests

Each request for public records will be evaluated using the following guidelines:

Although no specific language is required to make a request, the requester must at least identify the records requested with sufficient clarity to allow the public office to identify, retrieve, and review the records. If it is not clear what records are being sought, the Records Custodian must contact the requester for clarification, and assist the requester in revising the request by informing the requester of the manner in which the Village of Hicksville keeps its records. The law permits the Village to ask for a written request if (1) it will benefit the requestor by enhancing the Village’s ability to identify, locate and deliver a public record; and (2) after telling the requestor that a written request is not required and they may decline to reveal their identity or the intended use of the record.

The requester does not have to put a records request in writing, and does not have to provide his or her identity, or the intended use of the requested public record. It is the general policy of the Village of Hicksville that this information is not requested.

Public records are to be available for inspection during regular business hours, with the exception of published holidays. Public records must be made available for inspection promptly. Copies of public records must be made available within a reasonable period of time. “Prompt” and “reasonable” take into account the volumes of records requested, the proximity of the location where the records are stored, and the necessity for any legal review of records requested.

In processing a request for inspection of a public record, an office employee must accompany the requester during inspection to make certain original records are not taken or altered.

Each request should be evaluated for an estimated length of time required to gather the records. Routine requests for records should be satisfied immediately if feasible to do so. Routine requests include, but are not limited to, meeting minutes (both draft and final form), budgets, salary information, forms and applications, personnel rosters, etc. If fewer than 20 pages of copies are requested, or if the records are readily available in an electronic format that can be e-mailed or downloaded easily, these should be made as quickly as equipment allows. If more copies are requested an appointment will be made with the requester when he or she may pick up copies and/or compact discs. All requests for public records must either be satisfied or be acknowledge in writing by the Village of Hicksville within three (3) business days following the receipt of the request. If a request is deemed significantly beyond routine, such as seeking a voluminous number of copies or requiring extensive research, the acknowledgement must include the following:

  1. An estimated number of business days it will take to satisfy the request,
  2. An estimated cost for the copies and/or compact discs, and
  3. Any items within the request that maybe exempt from disclosure.

In processing the request, the Village does not have an obligation to create new records or perform new analysis of existing information.

Any denial of public records requested must include an explanation, including legal authority. If portions of a record are public and portions are exempt, the exempt portions are to be redacted and the rest released. If there are redactions, each redaction must be accompanied by a supporting explanation, including legal authority.

Exempted and/or Restricted Information

In accordance with the Federal Privacy Act, as further addressed in state court cases, no public record shall be released which contains a Federal Social Security Number, and any public records containing Federal Social Security Numbers will have that information redacted prior to release.

Records will not be subject to public inspection if the release of which is prohibited by either state or Federal law. More information can be found in the current publication of the Ohio Sunshine Law’s Handbook published by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

Redacting/Exempting Records Procedure

After viewing a requested record and determining that it contains non-releasable information, the releasing Employee shall make a copy of all pages (as requested), containing the excluded information and redact any of the non-releasable information from said record prior to releasing the records to the Requester. For purposes of this policy:

  1. Redaction means obscuring or deleting any information that is exempt from public view.
  2. The Requester must be notified of the type of information that was redacted and the redaction must be made plainly visible.

The releasing Employee shall neatly cross out the restricted information with a black marker and then make a copy of the page with redactions and release the copy to the Requester. Each redaction must be accompanied by a supporting explanation, including legal authority.

Public Records Policy Distribution and Training

This policy must be distributed to the records custodian and any other employee handling public records requests in each office, who must then acknowledge receipt of said policy.
A poster highlighting the public records policy must be placed conspicuously in all public offices where records can be requested. This policy will be part of the general policies of the Village of Hicksville and may be posted to the Village’s internet site.

Any Village Employees handling public records requests should refer to their department head, elected official, or the Village Solicitor’s Office for clarification of laws or policies governing public records requests.

Costs for Public Records

Those seeking public records will be charged only the actual cost of making copies. The charge for paper copies is 5 cents per page. The charge to download computer files to a compact disc is $1.00 per disc. There is no charge for documents e-mailed. Requesters may ask that documents be mailed to them. They will only be charged the actual cost of the postage and mailing supplies.

E-mail

Documents in e-mail format, text messaging and instant messaging, including those sent and received via a handheld communications device (such as a Blackberry) are records defined by the Ohio Revised Code when their content relates to the business of the Village of Hicksville. E-mail is to be treated in the same fashion as records in other formats and should follow the same retention schedule.

Records in private e-mail accounts used to conduct public business are subject to disclosure, and all employees or representatives of the Village of Hicksville are instructed to retain their e-mails that relate to public business and to copy them to their business e-mail accounts and/or the Village of Hicksville’s Records Custodian.

Failure to Respond to a Public Records Request

The Village of Hicksville recognizes the legal and non-legal consequences of failure to properly respond to a public records request. In addition to the distrust in government that failure to comply may cause, the Village of Hicksville’s failure to comply with a request may result in a court ordering the Village of Hicksville to comply with the law, and to pay the requester attorney’s fees and damages.

The Village of Hicksville records are subject to records retention schedules. The office’s current schedules are available at the Municipal Building, 111 South Main Street, Hicksville OH 43526 in the Clerk-Treasurer’s office as required by §149.43(B)(2), Ohio Revised Code.