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FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT POLICY

The following policy adopted by Whitefish Township is to comply with the Michigan Freedom of Information Act.

The Michigan Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provides that all persons, except those persons incarcerated in state or local correctional facilities, are entitled to full and complete information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts of those who represent them as public officials and public employees.

FOIA requests shall be in writing and preferably on the form adopted by this Policy.

The request must sufficiently describe the public record to enable the FOIA Coordinator to identify the requested public record and must be signed by the person requesting the public record.  Upon receipt of a FOIA request, the request shall be date stamped and times calculated for response.  The employee receiving the written request, after recording the date received on the request, shall promptly forward the request to the FOIA Coordinator, which shall make an initial determination concerning the request.

1. All requests shall be referred to the FOIA Coordinator within one business day of receipt.

2. All requests shall be responded to by the FOIA Coordinator within five business days of receipt of the request (six business days if the request is received by fax).

All personal and private information shall be redacted from the materials being furnished prior to their release.  The redacted information includes, but is not limited to: driver's license number, street address, date of birth, social security number, and telephone number.  This information shall be redacted to protect the individual's right to privacy, as such information may be required by Whitefish Township, but is furnished with the expectation that only Whitefish Township shall have the right to access and use it. Under some circumstances the FOIA Coordinator may determine that some of this redacted information can be furnished, but only upon written request, or by order of a court of competent jurisdiction.

Requests submitted to the FOIA Coordinator shall be date stamped upon receipt.  The FOIA Coordinator shall review the request, and issue a written notice to the requesting party within the time proscribed, doing one of the following:

1. Granting the request.

2. Denying the request.

3. Granting the request in part and denying the request in part.

4. Extending for not more than ten business days theperiod during which Whitefish Township shall respond to the request. Only one notice of extension for a particular request may be issued.

The FOIA Coordinator shall keep written requests on file for one year.  Failure to respond to the request constitutes a denial of the request.  Response to FOIA requests shall contain the statutory language as set forth in the notice attached.

Whitefish Township shall furnish the requesting person with a reasonable opportunity for inspection and examination of public records and furnish reasonable facilities for making memoranda or abstracts from public records available during normal business hours.  The FOIA Coordinator shall provide a certified copy of a public record if a person requests the same in writing.

Neither Whitefish Township nor the FOIA Coordinator is obligated to create a record, list, compilation, or summary of information that does not already exist.  This includes analyzing, compiling, or summarizing existing information into a new format.

Neither Whitefish Township nor the FOIA Coordinator is obligated to provide answers to oral or written questions.   Any person examining public records shall bring to the examination only an erasable pencil with which to make notes or lists.  No pens or indelible writing instruments are allowed. No notes or writing of any kind shall be made on the documents themselves.  In the event the inspection is of the original records, the Whitefish Township shall provide a monitor to ensure protection of the public records.

In order to defray the cost to Whitefish Township of having the records review monitored by Whitefish Township personnel, a fee shall be paid to the Whitefish Township for personnel time as provided in this Policy.  Except as otherwise provided by statute or ordinance, the Whitefish Township shall charge and receive a fee for public records search, for inspection of public records, and for providing a copy of public records according to the following schedule:

1. Copies of documents provided shall be at the rate of ten cents             ($.10)  per page for each page.

2. Personnel time, including search, examination, review and the deletion and separation of exempt from non-exempt information, shall be for the actual time spent calculated on the hourly wage of the lowest paid Whitefish Township employee in the department where the records are kept who is capable of retrieving the information necessary to comply with the request under this Act.

3. Actual mailing costs

The FOIA Coordinator shall have the administrative authority to require that all charges associated with the processing of a FOIA request be paid in full before releasing any public records.  Fees may be reduced or waived by the FOIA Coordinator if the waiver or reduction is in the public interest because the request will primarily benefit the general public.  Fees may be waived by the FOIA Coordinator up to the first $10 for each individual entitled.  Fees may be waived upon a showing of factors showing inability to pay.  All such requests shall be in writing and shall be sworn to by the person requesting the waiver.

Decisions made by the FOIA Coordinator under this Policy may be appealed in writing to the Whitefish Township Board.  Decisions of the Whitefish Township Board may be appealed to any court of competent jurisdiction. The Supervisor of Whitefish Township is hereby designated to be the FOIA Coordinator for Whitefish Township.

 

Inspection of Records

Public Inspection of Records

Upon receiving a verbal request to inspect township records, the township shall furnish the requesting person with a reasonable opportunity and reasonable facilities for inspection and examination of its public records.

A person shall be allowed to inspect public records during usual business hours, not less than four hours per day. The public does not have unlimited access to township offices or facilities, and a person may be required to inspect records at a specified counter or table, and in view of township personnel.

Township officials, appointees, staff or consultants/contractors assisting with inspection of public records shall inform any person inspecting records that only pencils, and no pens or ink, may be used to take notes.

In coordination with the official responsible for the records, the FOIA coordinator shall determine on a case-by-case basis when the township will provide copies of original records, to allow for blacking out exempt information, to protect old or delicate original records, or because the original record is a digital file or database not available for public inspection.

The (clerk, FOIA coordinator, other) is responsible for identifying if records or information requested by the public is stored in digital files or e-mail, even if the public does not specifically request a digital file or e-mail.

A person cannot remove books, records or files from the place the township has provided for the inspection.

No documents shall be removed from the office of the custodian of those documents without permission of that custodian, except by court order, subpoena or for audit purposes. The official shall be given a receipt listing the records being removed. Documents may be removed from the office of the custodian of those documents with permission of that custodian to accommodate public inspection of those documents.

Copies May Be Required to Enable Public Inspection of Records

In coordination with the official responsible for the records, the FOIA coordinator will determine (by policy, on a case-by-case basis, or both) when the township will provide copies of original records, to allow for blacking out exempt information, to protect old or delicate original records, or because the original record is a digital file or database not available for public inspection.

Optional: A fee will be charged for copies made to enable public inspection of records, according to the township’s FOIA policy.