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Patton Township Open Records Policy

Adopted December 10, 2008
Revised December 14, 2016 

 Intent

This policy is intended to enable access to all public records maintained by Patton Township.  All records of the Township are public records unless there is a specific legal citation(a law or court decision)providing otherwise. When there is a question as to whether a particular record is public,the benefit of the doubt shall favor to the requester.

  Statutory Basis

This policy complies with Act 3 of 2008, the Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law,as amended, which governs the rights of the public to inspect and obtain copies of public records.  The effective date of Act 3 is January 1, 2009.

  Definition of a Public Record (from Act 3) 

“Public record” is a record, including a financial record of a Commonwealth or local agency that is not exempt under section 708 (of Act 3 of 2008),is not exempt from being disclosed under any other Federal or State law or regulation or judicial order or decree, or is not protected by a privilege.

Records are also information, regardless of physical form or characteristics, that document a transaction or activity of an agency and that is created, received or retained pursuant to law or in connection with a transaction,business or activity of the agency.  The term includes a document, paper, letter, map, book, tape, photograph, film or sound recording, information stored or maintained electronically and a data-processed or image-processed document.

“Public records” do not include the exclusions listed in section 708 of Act 3 of 2008.

Access to Public Records 

Patton Township public records are open for inspection and duplication during normal office hours, 8 a.m.to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, except for holidays and from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.on Wednesdays, subject to the regulations set forth herein.  Appointments may be made for access to public records at other times.

 Open Records Officer 

The designated Right-to-Know Officer is the Patton Township Manager, who may designate certain employees to process public record requests.  

Upon receipt of a written open records request, the Right-to-Know Officer or the designee will:  

  1. Note the date of receipt of the written request.
  2. Compute the day on which the five day response period will expire and note the date on the written request.
  3. Maintain an electronic or paper copy of a written request, including all documents submitted with the request, until the request has been fulfilled.  If the request is denied, the written request will be maintained for thirty (30) days) or, if an appeal is filed with the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records, until a final determination is issued or the appeal is deemed denied. 

 Request for Public Records 

All attempts will be made to fulfill requests for public records in a timely manner.  

Requests for public records may be oral or written. If the requester seeks to pursue the rights, relief, or remedies under Act 3, the request for public records must be in writing and be addressed to the Right-to-Know Officer, at 100 Patton Plaza, State College, Pennsylvania, 16803. The written request may be submitted in person, by mail, by e-mail, by facsimile, or provided by way of the Township’s or the Commonwealth’s Right-to-Know Request Form.  Any employee who receives a Right-to-Know request shall immediately forward the request to the Right-to-Know Officer. Regardless of the request format, the Right-to-Know Officer will be the only person to determine if the request is in proper form.  

(1)  Oral Requests  

Written requests for meeting minutes, meeting agendas, and property tax information are not required.  The Township Manager may publish a list of other PattonTownship public records which shall be accessible by oral request.  In addition, the Township Manager, Township Secretary or Department Heads may authorize access to other public records requested orally on a case-by-case basis.                                        

 (2)      Written Requests 

Written requests for access to public records may be on a form provided by the Township or in a letter addressed to the Township.  The written request should identify or describe the records sought with sufficient specificity to enable Patton Township to ascertain which records are being requested and shall include the name and address to which Patton Township should address its response.  The requester may include a telephone number or email address to facilitate clarification of requests, if necessary.  

An anonymous request places the onus on the requestor to return to the Township Office in a timely manner to pick up the response.   

The requester’s intended use of the record(s) is a private matter. No Township employee or representative shall request or require an explanation of the use of the record(s) requested. 

Patton Township’s Response  

Once a written request for public records has been received by the Right-to-Know Officer, PattonTownship shall respond to the request within five (5) business days in one of the following manners:  

  1. The requested records will be provided; or 
  2. The request will be denied.  If a request is denied in whole or in part, the denial will be in writing and will contain a description of the records requested, the reasons for the denial, including citation of supporting legal authority, and the procedure to appeal the denial of access under Act 3; or 
  3. If the Township determines that it cannot fulfill the request within five (5) business days because of one or more of the following reasons:

i)       the request requires redaction; or

ii)      the request requires retrieval from a remote location; or 

iii)     the request requires legal review; or 

iv)     the requester has not complied with PattonTownship’s Policy; or 

v)      a timely response cannot be made due to staffing limitations; or 

vi)     the requester refuses to pay the applicable fees set forth by this policy 

then the Township will send written notice that the request is being reviewed, the reason for the review, and a reasonable date by which a response is expected to be provided. 

PattonTownship is not required to create a public record to fulfill a request if no such document is currently in existence.

 Redaction 

PattonTownship will grant access to public records according to this Policy and will separate and exclude any records which are not public records or which are otherwise excluded or exempted from the definition of public records.  If information which is not subject to access is an integral part of a public record and cannot be separated, PattonTownship shall redact from the public record the information which is not subject to access and the response shall grant access only to the information which is subject to access. 

Note:  The Township will provide identifiable and existing public records but is not required to synthesize, compile, maintain, format, or organize records in response to a request. 

Appeals 

Requestors receiving a denial either in whole or in part of a submitted written request for records have the right to appeal the denial of information in writing to the Office of Open Records, Commonwealth Keystone Building, 400 North Street, 4th Floor, Harrisburg, PA 17120 for review.  The OOR prefers to receive appeals through the online form, or via email as a Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx) or PDF attachment.

Appeals related to the denial for access to criminal investigative records may be submitted, in writing, to the Appeals Officer designated by the Office of Centre County District Attorney, Centre County Courthouse, Room 404, Bellefonte, PA 16823-1488, Phone: (814) 355, FAX: (814) 355-6756. 

Appeals shall be submitted to the appropriate appeals officer within fifteen (15) business days of the mailing of the Township’s response or within fifteen (15) business days of a deemed denial. The appeal must state the grounds upon which the requestor asserts that the record is a public record, legislative record, or financial record and shall address any grounds stated by the agency for delaying or denying the request. 

Within thirty (30) days of the mailing date of the final determination of the Appeals Officer, a requestor or PattonTownship may file a petition for review as required by rule of court with the Centre County Court of Common Pleas.  The decision of the court shall contain findings of fact and conclusions of law based upon evidence as a whole.  The decision shall clearly and concisely explain the rationale for the decision.  A petition for review shall stay the release of documents until a decision is issued. 

Forms 

The Township Manager is authorized and directed to establish and provide necessary forms for written requests and filing for exceptions. 

Fees  

No fees for the examination of public records on site will apply.  Charges are for duplication and delivery of public records.

Enhanced Electronic Access:If an agency offers enhanced electronic access to records in addition to making the records accessible for inspection and duplication by a requester, the agency may establish user fees specifically for the provision of the enhanced electronic access, but only to the extent that the enhanced electronic access is in addition to making the records accessible for inspection and duplication by a requester as required by this Act.The user fees for enhanced electronic access may be a flat rate,a subscription fee for a period of time, a per-transaction fee,a fee based on the cumulative time of system access or any other reasonable method and any combination there of. The user fees for enhanced electronic access must be reasonable, must be pre-approved by the Office of Open Records and shall not be established with the intent or effect of excluding persons from access to records or duplicates thereof or of creating profit for the agency. Please submit any request to the

 Office of Open Records

400 North Street, 4th Floor

Harrisburg,PA.17120

 

Current fees for requests can be found in the Patton Township Fee Schedule

 

Fee Structure

 

VII. RIGHT-TO-KNOW FEES

 

 Record Type / Delivery Method

 

 

Fee

Black & White Copies

$0.25 per copy.1

 

Color Copies

 

$0.35 per copy.2

 

Specialized Documents3

 

actual cost.

 

Records Delivered via Email

 

No additional fee may be imposed.4

 

CD / DVD

 

actual cost, not to exceed $3.00 per disc.

 

Flash Drive

 

actual cost.

 

Facsimile

 

actual cost.5

 

Other Media

 

actual cost.

 

Redaction

 

No additional fee may be imposed.6

 

Conversion to Paper

 

Photographing a Record

 

No additional fee may be imposed.8

Postage

 

Up to actual cost of USPS first-class postage.

Certification of a Record

Up to $5.00 per record.9

 

$0.25 per page.7

 

No additional fee may be imposed.8

 

actual cost of USPS first-class postage

 

$5.00 per record.9

 

1 A “copy” is either a single-sided copy on 8.5”x11” paper, or one side of a double-sided copy on 8.5”x11” paper.

2 A “copy” is either a single-sided copy on 8.5”x11” paper, or one side of a double-sided copy on 8.5”x11” paper. A requester may ask for black and white copies even if the original is in color and color copies are available.

3 Including, but not necessarily limited to, non-standard sized documents and blueprints. 

4 If a requester asks to receive records which require redactions in electronic format, an agency may print the records to provide for secure redaction, then scan them in for delivery by email. Accordingly, the agency may charge the fees noted above for either B&W or color copies, as appropriate.

5 If an agency must print records to send them by facsimile, the agency may charge the fees noted above for B&W copies.

6 If a requester seeks records requiring redaction, an agency may copy or print the records to provide for secure redaction. Accordingly, the agency may charge the fees noted above for either B&W or color copies, as appropriate.

7 If a record is only maintained electronically or in other non-paper media, duplication fees shall be limited to the lesser of the fee for duplication on paper or the fee for duplication in the original media, unless the requester specifically requests for the record to be duplicated in the more expensive medium. See §1307(e).

8 This assumes the requester is using his or her own camera, such as a cellphone camera, to photograph the records. See Muenz v. Township of Reserve, OOR Dkt. AP 2015-1021, 2015 PA O.O.R.D. LEXIS 1176. If redaction is required prior to the requester being granted access to photograph records, an agency may copy or print the records to provide for secure redaction. Accordingly, the agency may charge the fees noted above for either B&W or color copies, as appropriate.

9 Under the RTKL, an agency may impose “reasonable fees for official certification of copies if the certification is at the behest of the requester and for the purpose of legally verifying the public record.” Certification fees do not include notarization fees. 

 Additional Notes

 Fees May Be Waived: All fees established herein may be waived at the discretion of the Open Records Officer.

 Other Statutory Fees: If a statute other than the RTKL governs the amount an agency may charge for a certain type of record, the other statute controls. For example, a Recorder of Deeds may charge a copy fee of 50 cents per uncertified page and $1.50 per certified page (42 P.S. § 21051). Police departments may charge up to $15 for a copy of a vehicle accident report (75 Pa.C.S. §3751 (b)(2)); the Philadelphia Police Department may charge up to $25 per copy (Id. at (b)(3)). State police are authorized to charge “$5 for each copy of the Pennsylvania State Police full report of investigation.” (75 Pa.C.S. §1956(b)). Other examples include the History Code, the Municipalities Planning Code, and the Criminal History Record Information Act.

 Inspection of Redacted Records: If a requester wishes to inspect, rather than receive copies of, records which contain both public and non-public information, the agency may redact the non-public information. An agency may not charge the requester for the redaction itself. However, an agency may charge (in accordance with the OOR’s Official Fee Structure) for any copies it must make in order to securely redact the material before allowing the requester to view the records. If, after inspecting the records, the requester chooses to obtain the copies, no additional fee may be charged.

 Fee Limitations: Except as otherwise provided by statute, the RTKL states that no other fees may be imposed unless the agency necessarily incurs costs for complying with the request, and such fees must be reasonable. No fee may be imposed for an agency’s review of a record to determine whether the record is a public record subject to access under the RTKL. No fee may be charged for searching for or retrieval of documents. An agency may not charge staff time or salary for complying with a RTK request. No fee may be charged for an agency’s response letter.

 Prepayment: Prior to granting a request for access in accordance with the RTKL, an agency may require a requester to prepay an estimate of the fees authorized under this section if the fees required to fulfill the request are expected to exceed $100. Once the request is fulfilled and prepared for release, the OOR recommends that the agency obtain payment prior to releasing the records.

Effective Date 

The effective date of this policy is January 1, 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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100 Patton Plaza
State College, Pennsylvania 16803

Telephone:  

814-234-0271 (general)

814-234-0273 (police)

814-234-6617 (tax)

Fax:  814-238-7790

Office Hours:  
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