Administrative Regulations & Polices
Public Access to Township Records Which Qualify as Public Records Under State Law
Act - Act 3 of 2008 entitled “The New Open Records Law”, approved by the Pennsylvania Legislature.
Financial record - any account, voucher or contract dealing with the receipt or disbursement of funds or acquisition, use or disposal of services, supplies, materials, equipment or property; or the salary or other payments or expenses paid to an officer or employee, including the individual’s name and title; and a financial audit report, excluding the audit’s underlying work papers.
Public record - a record, including a financial record, that is not protected by a defined privilege or is not exempt from being disclosed under one of the exemptions in the Act or under other federal or state law or regulation, or judicial decree or order.
Record - information, regardless of physical form or characteristics, that documents a Township transaction or activity and is created, received or retained pursuant to law or in connection with a Township transaction, business or activity, including: 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.
The Township website shall include:
1. Contact information for the Open Records Officer.
2. Contact information for the state’s Office of Open Records or other applicable appeals officer.
3. The form promulgated by the Township to be used to file a request.
4. Board policy, administrative regulations and procedures governing requests for access to the Township’s public records.
Open Records Officer shall:
1. Receive written requests for access to records submitted to the Township.
2. Review and respond to written requests in accordance with law, Board policy and administrative regulations.
3. Direct requests to other appropriate individuals in the Township or in another agency.
4. Monitor and record the Township’s progress in responding to requests.
5. Issue interim and final responses to submitted requests.
6. Maintain a log of all record requests and their disposition.
7. Ensure Township staff are trained to perform assigned job functions relative to requests for access to records.
Upon receiving a request for access to a record, the Open Records Officer shall
1. Note the date of receipt on the written request.
2. Compute and note on the written request the day on which the five-day period for response will expire.
3. Maintain an electronic or paper copy of the written request, including all documents submitted with the request, until the request has been fulfilled.
4. If the written request is denied, maintain the written request for thirty (30) days or, if an appeal is filed, until a final determination is issued or the appeal is deemed denied.
Procedure for Requesting Records
All requests for access to a public record must be in writing and submitted on the required form attached hereto as Attachment “A” or on the state form and addressed to the Open Records Officer.
Written requests shall be submitted to the Township in person, by mail, to a designated facsimile machine, and to a designated e-mail address. Any request received by the Township after normal business hours, 4:00 p.m. E.S.T., or on a day when the Township offices are closed shall be deemed received the next day on which the Township offices are open.
Each request must include the following information:
1. Identification or description of the requested record, in sufficient detail.
2. Medium in which the record is requested.
3. Name and address of the individual to receive the Township's response.
The Township shall not require an explanation of the reason for the request or the intended use of the requested record, unless otherwise required by law.
Response to Request
Township employees shall be directed to forward requests for access to public records to the Open Records Officer. Requests not properly addressed to the Open Records Officer shall not be deemed received unless and until the Open Records Officer actually receives the written request.
Upon receipt of a written request for access to a record, the Open Records Officer shall determine if the requested record is a public record and if the Township has possession, custody or control of that record. The Board of Commissioners may make a final decision on a portion of a request, or on entire request, which shall supersede the initial decision by the Open Records Officer.
The Open Records Officer shall respond as promptly as possible under the existing circumstances, and the initial response time shall not exceed five (5) business days from the date the written request is received by the Open Records Officer.
The initial response shall grant access to the requested record, deny access to the requested record, partially grant and partially deny access to the requested record, or notify the requestor of the need for an extension of time to fully respond.
Normally, records are available at the Township from 8:00 a.m. to noon and from 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday each week except for certain holidays and when offices are closed for emergencies.
The Open Records Officer shall respond to the written request within the time limits of the Act.
Extension of Time
If the Open Records Officer determines that an extension of time is required to respond to a request, in accordance with the factors stated in the Act, written notice shall be sent within five (5) business days of receipt of request. The notice shall indicate that the request for access is being reviewed, the reason that the review requires an extension, a reasonable date when the response is expected, and an estimate of applicable fees owed when the record becomes available.
Up to a thirty (30) day extension for one (1) of the listed reasons does not require the consent of the requestor. If the response is not given by the specified date, it shall be deemed denied on the day following that date.
A requestor may consent in writing to an extension that exceeds thirty (30) days, in which case the request shall be deemed denied on the day following the date specified in the notice if the Open Records Officer has not provided a response by that date.
Granting of Request
If the Open Records Officer determines that the request will be granted, the response shall inform the requestor that access is granted and either include information on the regular business hours of the administration office, provide electronic access, or state where the requestor may go to inspect the records or information electronically at a publically accessible site. The response shall include the applicable fee, a statement that all applicable fees shall be paid in order to receive access to the record requested and the medium in which the records will be provided.
Prepayment of an estimate of fees is required if access to the records is expected by the Open Records Officer to cost in excess of one hundred dollars ($100.00). If the actual cost is less than the estimate, the Open Records Officer shall return the difference to the requestor. If the actual cost is higher than the estimate, the requestor shall pay the difference prior to the copies being given or sent to the requestor.
The Open Records Officer may respond to a records request by notifying the requestor that the record is available through publicly accessible electronic means or that the Township shall provide access to inspect the record electronically. If the requestor, within thirty (30) days following receipt of the Township’s notice, submits a written request to have the record converted to paper, the Township shall provide access in printed form within five (5) days of receipt of the request for conversion to paper.
Denial of Request
The Open Records Officer may deny a request for access to a record if the requestor has made repeated requests for that same record and the repeated requests have placed an unreasonable burden on the Township.
The Open Records Officer may deny a request for access to a record when timely access is not possible due to a disaster, or when access may cause physical damage or irreparable harm to the record. To the extent possible, a record’s contents shall be made accessible even when the record is physically unavailable.
Information that is not subject to access and is redacted from a public record shall be deemed a denial.
If the Open Records Officer responds to a requestor that a copy of the requested record is available for delivery at the administration office and the requestor does not retrieve the record within sixty (60) days of the Township’s response, the Township shall dispose of the copy and retain any fees paid to date.
If a written request for access to a record is denied or deemed denied, the requestor may file an appeal with the state’s Office of Open Records within fifteen (15) business days of the mailing date of the Open Records Officer’s response or deemed denial.
If the Open Records Officer denies a request for access to a record, whether in whole or in part, a written response shall be sent within five (5) business days of receipt of the request. The response denying the request shall include the following:
1. Description of the record requested.
2. Specific reasons for denial.
3. Name, title, business address, business telephone number, and signature of the Open Records Officer on whose authority the denial is issued.
4. Date of the response.
5. Procedure for the requestor to appeal a denial of access.
Documents Not Qualifying As Public Records:
Documents will not be considered public records if they fall outside the definition of “public record” under the Act or meet one of the exceptions for public records contained within the Act. Documents which do not qualify as public records include but are not limited to any of the following exceptions:
o unless presented to a quorum for deliberation at a public meeting.
o Includes real estate appraisals until decision made to proceed with lease, sale or acquisition of property.
o Communications with Township Solicitor or other attorneys
o Doctor-patient communications; and
o Speech and debate privilege – applicable to legislative functions
o result in loss of Federal or State funds;
o likely lead to physical harm or personal security of a person;
o jeopardize safety of the public, a building, infrastructure, information storage system, or resource; or
o jeopardize computer security.
o confidential personal health information;
o applications for social services; and
o confidential personal information such as social security number, driver’s license, financial information, email address and personal phone numbers.
o Reference letters and written criticisms
o Employment application (if not hired);
o Employee assistance program information;
o Grievances and complaints of discrimination
o Discipline, demotion and discharge (except for final action of discharge or discipline)
o Academic transcript
o NOTE: Other confidentiality restrictions may apply to employee records under other laws.
A public record that the Township does not possess but is possessed by a third party with whom the Township has contracted to perform a governmental function and which directly relates to that governmental function shall be considered a public record of the Township. When the Township contracts with such a third party, the Township shall require the contractor to agree in writing to comply with requests for such records and to provide the Township with the requested record in a timely manner to allow the Township to comply with the Act.
When the Township produces a record that is not a public record in response to a request, the Open Records Officer shall notify any third party that provided the record to the Township, the person that is the subject of the record, and the requestor.
The Open Records Officer shall notify a third party of a record request if the requested record contains a trade secret or confidential proprietary information, in accordance with law and administrative regulations.
Fees for duplication and, where applicable, document retrieval will be charged according to the following fee schedule which shall be periodically updated.
Postage Actual Cost to Township
Certification costs $5.00 per record certified
Paper copying charge (black & white) $.25 per page/face
Color copies $.35 per page/face
Copies other than 8.5 x 11" Actual cost
CD/DVD of documents (if not provided) $3 per disk
Flash Drive of documents(if not provided) Actual cost
Electronic records copied to paper $.25 per page
If the request is for complex and extensive data, e.g., property assessment lists, the Township may determine fees from time to time based on the reasonable market value of the particular data requested, but no such charges apply to the press or non-profit organizations seeking the information for educational purposes. The Township may, from time to time, adopt other fees as allowed by the Act.