Chapter 2.14
ACCESS TO PUBLIC RECORDS

Sections:

2.14.010    Open records.

2.14.020    Access and inspection of records.

2.14.030    Copies of records – Costs of search and copying.

2.14.040    Compilation or creation of records.

2.14.050    Exemptions for particular records.

2.14.060    Appeal of denial of request.

2.14.070    Records retention schedule as set forth in the Alaska local government general records retention schedules 1987 Alaska State Archives.

2.14.010 Open records.

A. Definition of Public Records. Public records include books, papers, files, accounts, writings, including drafts and memorialization of conversations, and other items, regardless of format or physical characteristics, that are developed or received by the City, or by a private contractor for the City, and that are preserved for their informational value or as evidence of the organization or operation of the City; public records do not include proprietary software programs, reference documents, or transitory documents. In this section:

1. “Reference document” means a writing or image that is acquired or created solely for the purpose of creating or incorporation into a record, and includes, without limitation, notes, calculations, and working papers.

2. “Transitory document” means a writing or image that after its immediate use has no value as evidence of the organization, function, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities of the City, and includes without limitation transmittals, suspense copies when a reply has been received, routine requests for information, and routine appointment and scheduling requests.

B. Public Records Open to Inspection. Except as provided by WMC 2.14.050, or by other provision of municipal, State or Federal law, the public records of the City are open to inspection by the public under reasonable rules during regular office hours. The City of Whittier recognizes the competing interest of personal privacy and the right of the public to have access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s business. [Ord. 01-2016 § 2, 2016; Ord. 535-08 § 18, 2008; Ord. 323-95 § 1, 1995. Formerly 2.52.010].

2.14.020 Access and inspection of records.

Public records may be inspected at the City office where the records are kept during the regular office hours of that particular office. All City officers and employees shall, consistent with the orderly conduct of City business, make a good faith and diligent effort to respond to requests for inspection of records made pursuant to this code. If the City office is unable to produce the documents at the time of request an appointment shall be made to produce the documents no later than five working days after the time of request and any items requested not produced and not denied shall receive a written reason and attempt to reschedule delivery of items. [Ord. 01-2016 § 3, 2016; Ord. 535-08 § 18, 2008; Ord. 323-95 § 1, 1995. Formerly 2.52.020].

2.14.030 Copies of records – Costs of search and copying.

A. Certified Copies. The City Clerk shall give, on request and payment of costs, a certified copy of any public records required to be disclosed under this code.

B. Photographic or Other Copies. The City shall provide copies of records only at the request of the requester and at the requester’s expense. Except as otherwise provided in this section, the fee for copying public records may not exceed the standard unit cost of duplication established by the City Manager.

C. If the production of records for one requester in a calendar month exceeds five person-hours, the City shall require the requester to pay the personnel costs required during the month to complete the search and copying tasks. The personnel costs may not exceed the actual salary and benefit costs for the personnel time required to perform the search and copying tasks. The requester shall pay the fee before the records are disclosed, and the City may require payment in advance of the search.

D. The City Manager may reduce or waive a fee when the City Manager determines that the reduction or waiver is in the public interest. Fee reductions and waivers shall be uniformly applied among persons who are similarly situated. The City Manager may waive a fee of $5.00 or less if the fee is less than the cost to the City to arrange for payment. [Ord. 01-2016 § 4, 2016; Ord. 535-08 § 18, 2008; Ord. 323-95 § 1, 1995. Formerly 2.52.030].

2.14.040 Compilation or creation of records.

Nothing in this code shall require the City to create records, compile, summarize, outline or in other ways create information from existing public records. In those instances where the City official who is the custodian of the record determines that the City has the requisite resources to compile or create records to comply with a request for information, the City may charge the requester with the costs of such compilation or summary, which costs shall include the salary and benefits and overhead charges for the City employees who accomplished the work. [Ord. 535-08 § 18, 2008; Ord. 323-95 § 1, 1995. Formerly 2.52.040].

2.14.050 Exemptions for particular records.

This chapter does not require disclosure of the following public records:

A. Confidential or Privileged Public Records. Public records containing information which is accorded confidential or privileged status under this code, or under State or Federal law, are open to public inspection only in a manner that does not disclose such confidential or privileged information.

B. Public records sought by a party involved in litigation shall be disclosed in accordance with the rules of procedure applicable in a court or administrative adjudication. In this subsection, “involved in litigation” means a party to litigation or a party representing a party to litigation, including a person who is obtaining records for the party.

C. Records of vital statistics and adoption proceedings.

D. Records pertaining to juveniles.

E. Medical and related public health records.

F. Records required to be kept confidential by Federal law or regulation or by State law.

G. Law Enforcement Records. Public records compiled or maintained for law enforcement purposes are open to inspection and disclosure, except that such disclosure shall not be made if disclosure of the records:

1. Could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings;

2. Would deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or impartial adjudication;

3. Could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of the personal privacy of a suspect, defendant, victim, or witness;

4. Could reasonably be expected to disclose the identity of a confidential source;

5. Would disclose confidential techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions;

6. Would disclose guidelines for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions if the disclosure could reasonably be expected to risk circumvention of the law.

H. Security Records. Records or information pertaining to a plan, program, or procedures for establishing, maintaining, or restoring security in the City, or to a detailed description or evaluation of systems, facilities, or infrastructure in the City, but only to the extent that the production of the records or information:

1. Could reasonably be expected to interfere with the implementation or enforcement of the security plan, program, or procedures;

2. Would disclose confidential guidelines for investigations or enforcement and the disclosure could reasonably be expected to risk circumvention of the law; or

3. Could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of an individual or to present a real and substantial risk to the public health and welfare.

I. Identity of Complainants.

1. The name, address, telephone number, or other identifying information about complainants in actions to enforce building, environmental, or other City ordinances or regulations and State statutes or regulations are not open to public inspection.

2. This subsection does not prohibit disclosure of the contents of the complaint, so long as the complainant is not identifiable.

3. This subsection does not prohibit the disclosure of the name of the complainant when such disclosure becomes necessary to the fair and just disposition of the charge or complaint in enforcement proceedings.

J. Harbor and Utility Customer Records. Information in records maintained for City harbor facilities and City utilities regarding a specific identifiable customer, the release of which would constitute an unwarranted invasion of privacy.

K. Records containing a trade secret or proprietary information which have been provided on condition that the trade secret or proprietary information be maintained as confidential are open to public inspection only in a manner that does not disclose the trade secret or proprietary information.

L. City personnel records, including employment application and examination materials, except for the following:

1. The name and position title of a City employee;

2. Prior positions held by a City employee;

3. Whether a City employee is in the classified or exempt service;

4. The date of appointment and separation of a City employee;

5. The compensation authorized for a City employee;

6. Employment applications for the positions of City Manager and department head.

7. A City employee may examine the employee’s own personnel files and may authorize others to examine those files. [Ord. 01-2016 § 5, 2016; Ord. 535-08 § 18, 2008; Ord. 323-95 § 1, 1995. Formerly 2.52.050].

2.14.060 Appeal of denial of request.

In the event an individual requests information and is refused, the individual shall be notified in writing within five working days of his right to appeal that decision to the City Manager. If not satisfied with the ruling of the City Manager, the individual shall be notified within five working days of that decision of his right to appeal to the City Council at its next regularly scheduled meeting, which shall be the final and binding authority. [Ord. 535-08 § 18, 2008; Ord. 323-95 § 1, 1995. Formerly 2.52.060].

2.14.070 Records retention schedule as set forth in the Alaska local government general records retention schedules 1987 Alaska State Archives.

The Council shall keep records that will provide for the ongoing control of operations, such that records with continuing administrative, legal, fiscal and historical uses will be easily accessible; and will provide for the regular destruction of these records which are of no further use to the Council.

The OMB Common Rule, Subpart C, Section 42 provides the controlling regulations for Federal awards and is included in this policy. The minimum retention period for Federal and State grant and contract records subject to the single audit requirements is three years.

The Council records shall be subject to the following retention schedules, which will be analyzed and updated on a yearly basis:

This chart set out in this section indicates the retention period for all municipal records.

Retention Period 

 

Accounts payable ledgers and schedules

4 years

Accounts receivable ledgers and schedules

4 years

Audit reports of accountants

Permanently

Bank reconciliation

4 years

Cash books

Permanently

Charts of accounts

Permanently

Checks (canceled but see exception below)

4 years

Checks (canceled for important payments, i.e., tax purposes, purchase of property, special contracts, etc.) (Checks should be filed with the papers pertaining to the underlying transactions)

Permanently

Contracts and leases (expired)

7 years

Contracts and leases still in effect

Permanently

Correspondence (routine) with customers or vendors

4 years

Correspondence (general)

4 years

Correspondence (legal and important matters only)

Permanently

Deeds, mortgages, and bills of sale

Permanently

Depreciation schedules

Permanently

Duplicate deposit slips

4 years

Expense analysis and expense distribution schedules

4 years

Financial statements (end-of-year, other months optional)

Permanently

General and subsidiary ledgers (end-of-year trial balances)

Permanently

Internal audit reports (in some situations longer retention periods may be desirable)

4 years

Internal reports (miscellaneous)

4 years

Inventories of products, materials, and supplies

4 years

Invoices to customers

4 years

Journals

Permanently

Notes receivable ledgers and schedules

4 years

Option records (expired)

4 years

Payroll records and summaries

7 years

Petty cash vouchers

2 years

Physical inventory tags

4 years

[Ord. 535-08 § 18, 2008; Ord. 344-97 § 2, 1997. Formerly 2.52.070].