Right to Know
OPEN RECORDS LAW REGULATIONS
(Effective January 1, 2009)
§ 1: Purpose
The purpose of these Regulations is to set forth a comprehensive and detailed procedure for the submission, review, determination and appeal of all Right to Know Act requests submitted to the Borough of Sharon Hill, in compliance with Act 3 of 2008, the Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law, as amended; to provide access to the public records of the Borough of Sharon Hill; and to minimize the financial impact to the residents of the Borough of Sharon Hill regarding the resources utilized in the receipt and processing of public records requests and the retrieval and copying of said records.
§ 2: Definitions
As used in these Regulations, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
(a). “Right-To-Know Law” or “Open Records Law” shall refer to the Act of June 21, 1957 (P.L. 390, No. 212), as amended by Act 2002-50, commonly referred to as the “Right-to-Know Law,” and Act 3 of 2008, commonly referred to as the “Open Records Law,” as codified at 65 P.S. §§ 66.1, et seq..
(b). “Public Record(s)” Any document that satisfies the general definition of “public record” set forth in the Open Records Law and does not fall within any of the exceptions set forth therein, as the definition and exceptions are amended from time to time and as the definition and exceptions are interpreted by state, federal and/or local courts.”Public Record(s)” shall not include any of the following:
· Social Security numbers
· Drivers license numbers
· Employee numbers
· Home, cellular or personal phone numbers· Personal financial information
· Spouse’s name, marital status, beneficiary or dependent information
· Home addresses of law enforcement officers or judges
· Identity of confidential informants.
· Autopsy reports — except the name, cause and manner of death
· Records that identify social service recipients, including welfare recipients
· A minor’s name, home address or date of birth.
· Constituent requests to a member of the House or Senate
· Library circulation cards
· Pre-decisional deliberations of the Borough of Sharon Hill
(c). “Open Records Officer” – that individual who, for and on behalf of the Borough, is responsible for managing, evaluating, and responding to all requests submitted to the Borough pursuant to the Open Records Law.
(d). “Requester” – any person who is a legal resident of the United States and requests a record pursuant to the Open Records Law.
(e). “Written” and “In writing” – all handwritten, printed, typed and/or electronically created requests, including electronic mail (e-mail). Requests created by other electronic means, such as text messages, instant messages, SMS messages, or the like, shall not be considered to be “written” or “in writing.”
§ 3: Open Records Officer
The Open Records Officer for the Borough of Sharon Hill shall be the Borough Manager, or any other individual whom Borough Council may appoint from time to time. The Open Records Officer:
(a). May designate certain employee(s) of the Borough of Sharon Hill to process and track public record requests made pursuant to the Open Records Law.
(b). Shall be responsible for minimizing, where possible, the financial impact to the Borough of Sharon Hill regarding the resources utilized in the receipt and processing of public records requests and the retrieval and copying of public records.(c). May, at his or her discretion, consult with the Solicitor of the Borough of
Sharon Hill, for legal advice and/or legal opinion concerning any public records request made pursuant to the Open Records Law, including but not limited to, legal advice or legal opinion as to whether a requested record is a “public record,” as defined by the Open Records Law.
§ 4: Requests for Public Records
(a). All requests made pursuant to the Open Records Law made to the Borough of Sharon Hill shall be made in writing, and directed to the Open Records Officer at the following address:
Open Records Officer Borough of Sharon Hill 250 Sharon Avenue Sharon Hill, PA 19079
Employees of the Borough of Sharon Hill are directed to forward requests to the Open Records Officer immediately upon receipt thereof, or as soon as practicable.
(b). A written request shall identify or describe the records sought with sufficient specificity, and shall include all relevant dates, times, places, names, or the like, so as to enable the Open Records Officer to ascertain which records are being requested. All written requests shall also contain the name and address to which the Open Records Officer may send a response.
(c). The Open Records Officer may deny any requests that are not made in writing, and/or which do not contain the name and address to which the Open Records Officer can respond.
(d). Requesters should, wherever practical, submit written requests utilizing the Open Records Request form that has been developed and published by the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records. The Borough shall maintain copies of said Open Records Request form at the Borough Hall for requesters to complete upon request, and on the Borough’s website at www.sharonhillboro.com
(e). Pursuant to Act 3 of 2008, no request may be made under the Open Records Law by any person who is not a legal resident of the United States. Therefore, the Borough of Sharon Hill may require a requester to produce photographic identification, in order to determine proof of citizenship. § 5: Receipt of Written Request by Open Records OfficerUpon receipt of a written request made pursuant to the Open Records Law, the Open Records Officer, or his designee, shall do the following:
(a). Stamp the date of receipt on the written request;
(b). Compute the day on which the five-day period under Section 6 and Section 7(b)(1) will expire and make a notation of that date on the written request;
(c). Maintain an electronic or paper copy of a written request, including all documents submitted with the request until the request has been fulfilled;
(d). If the request is denied, the written request shall be maintained for thirty (30) days;
(e). If an appeal is filed, keep the records until a final determination is issued or until the appeal is deemed denied; and
(f). Create a file and keep all of the following:
(1). The original request;
(2). A copy of the response; and
(3). A record of all written communications with the requester§ 6: Determination of “Public Record”
Within five (5) days of receiving a written request, The Open Records Officer shall, individually, or after consultation with the Solicitor of the Borough of Sharon Hill, determine whether the document(s) or record(s) requested are public records, in conformance with the Open Records Law, and send the requester the appropriate response.§ 7: Reponses to Right to Know Act Requests
(a). Upon receipt of a written request for access, the Open Records Officer shall, individually or after consultation with the Solicitor of the Borough of Sharon Hill, determine if one of the following applies:
(1). The request for access requires redaction of a record;
(2). The request for access requires the retrieval of a record stored in a remote location;
(3) . A timely response to the request for access cannot be accomplished due to bona fide and specified staffing l imitations;
(4). A legal review is necessary to determine whether the record is a record subject to access under this act;
(5) . The requester has not complied with the agency’s policies regarding access to records;
(6) The requester refuses to pay applicable fees authorized by this act; or(7). The extent or nature of the request precludes a response within the required time period.
(b). Upon a determination that one of the factors listed in subsection
(a) applies, the Open Records Officer shall:(1). Send written notice to the requester within five (5) business days of receipt of the request for access. A response by the Open Records Officer shall either:
A. Provide access to and/or produce the requested public record(s);
B. Provide written notice that the request for access to the public record(s) has been granted;
C. Provide written notice that the request for access has been granted in part, and denied in part;
D. Provide written notice that the request for access has been denied; or
E. Provide written notice to the requestor that additional time is needed to comply with the request, which shall not exceed thirty (30) days.
(2). The notice shall include a statement notifying the requester that the request for access is being reviewed, the reason for the review, a reasonable date that a response is expected to be provided and an estimate of applicable fees owed when the record becomes available. If the date that a response is expected to be provided is in excess of thirty (30) days, following the initial five business days allowed for in section (b)(1), above, the request for access shall be deemed denied, unless the requester has already agreed, in writing, to an extension to the date specified in the notice.
(3). 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 agency has not provided a response by that date.
(c). If a final or interim written response is not made by the Open Records Officer to the requester within five (5) days from the date that the Open Records Officer received the request, the request shall be deemed to be denied.
§ 8: Physical Access to and Duplication of Public Records
If the Open Record Officer grants a request for access to public records:
(a). Unless otherwise required by law, the public records of the Borough of Sharon Hill shall be accessible for inspection by any requester during the regular business hours of the Borough. Unless the Borough of Sharon Hill adopts policies to the contrary, the regular business hours of the Borough for purposes of the Open Records Law shall be from 8:00 AM until 4:00 PM, on regular business days, excluding federal, state and/or local holidays.
(b). Access to public records by a requester shall be provided by the Open Records Officer either in Sharon Hill Borough Office, or at another location chosen at the discretion of the Open Records Officer, depending upon the size, quantity, complexity and/or other circumstances of the request.
A public record shall be accessible for duplication and/or photocopying by a requester. The Borough does not make duplication equipment available to a requester, but the Borough shall provide other means by which a requester may obtain copies, through Borough personnel.
(d). The Borough of Sharon Hill may direct its own personnel to make duplications and/or photocopies of the public records requested by the requestor, and the Borough shall charge the requester reasonable fee(s) for duplication and/or photocopying, at rates established by the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records. Alternatively, the Borough may contract for duplication services, in the discretion of the Open Records Officer, depending upon the size, quantity, complexity and/or other circumstances of the request, and require that the requester reimburse the Borough for the fees paid to the contractor for those services.
(e). Prior to providing access to public record(s), the Borough shall require the requester to prepay the estimated fees required to fulfill the request, if said fees are expected to exceed $100.00.
(f). The Borough may, in its sole discretion, waive the fees for duplication of public record(s), when the Borough deems it in the public interest to do so.
§ 9: Forms of Payment
Payment of duplication fees, photocopy fees and/or certified records fees may be made by the requester at the Borough Office in either cash or certified check.
§ 10: Requests Denied in Whole or in Part
If the Open Records Officer denies a written request for access, whether in whole or in part, the denial shall be issued in writing and shall include the following:
(a). A description of the record requested;
(b). The specific reasons for the denial, including a citation of supporting legal
(c). The typed or printed name, title, business address, business telephone
number and signature of the Open Records Officer;
(d). The date of the response; and
(e). The procedure to appeal the denial of access under the Open Records Law.§ 11: Appeals of Requests Denied Either in Whole or in Part
(a).If a written request for access to a record is denied or deemed denied, the requester may file an appeal with the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records within fifteen (15) business days of the mailing date of the Open Record Officer’s response or within fifteen (15) business days of a deemed denial.
The appeal shall state the grounds upon which the requester asserts that the record is a public record and shall address any grounds stated by the Open Records Officer for delaying or denying the request.Appeals to the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records may be sent to the following address:
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Office of Open Records
Commonwealth Keystone Building 400 North Street,
Plaza Level Harrisburg, PA 17120-0225
§ 12: Open Records Law Regulations
A copy of the Sharon Hil Open Records Law Regulations shall be available for review at the Sharon Hill Borough Hall during regular business hours, and shall also be posted on the Borough’s website at www.sharonhillboro.com.
§ 13: Severability
In the event that one or more provisions of these Regulations are found to be unlawful, unconstitutional and/or unenforceable, then the remaining provisions of these Regulations shall continue and remain in full force and effect.