We recently learned that our county commissioners will begin charging $15 per hour for open records requests if the requester has submitted previous requests in the same year that resulted in more than 36 hours of work for the county people.
Once again state law kinda gets in their way. The law reads:
Sec. 552.261. CHARGE FOR PROVIDING COPIES OF PUBLIC INFORMATION. (a) The charge for providing a copy of public information shall be an amount that reasonably includes all costs related to reproducing the public information, including costs of materials, labor, and overhead. If a request is for 50 or fewer pages of paper records, the charge for providing the copy of the public information may not include costs of materials, labor, or overhead, but shall be limited to the charge for each page of the paper record that is photocopied, unless the pages to be photocopied are located in:
(1) two or more separate buildings that are not physically connected with each other; or
(2) a remote storage facility.
The county is trying to punish an individual who is submitting multiple small requests, evidently on a daily basis.
State law makes no provision for combining previous requests when considering charges.
As long as each request results in 50 pages of results or less and the county does not have to leave their main building the most the county can charge is 10 cents per page.
If the request ends up eligible for a labor charge (50 pages or more, or having to look in a separate facility) the requester has the right to ask for a written statement and may then presumably change the request to ask for the right to review the documents in person.
The county attorney probably knows this but as we know governments like to try to bluff the citizens.
We deserve better