Chapter 1.20


1.20.010    Purpose.

1.20.020    Reference.

1.20.030    Policy.

1.20.040    Responsibility/authority.

1.20.050    Definitions.

1.20.060    Guidelines.

1.20.070    Appendixes.

Prior legislation: Ord. 953.

1.20.010 Purpose.

(1) Public Records Act. The purpose of the Public Records Act is to provide the public with full access to information concerning the conduct of government, mindful of individuals’ privacy rights and the desirability of efficient administration of government. The Public Records Act provides a statutory framework by which to administer access to public records.

(2) Town Policy and Procedure. The purpose of establishing the following policy and procedure is to provide a method by which town staff will review and respond to requests for public records within the Public Records Act framework. The information contained in this document is designed to aid both those requesting public records and those responding to records requests. The policy and procedure should assist in guiding expectations of requesters and providing notice of a mechanism by which to appeal a records decision, if necessary. [Ord. 1064 § 1, 2011.]

1.20.020 Reference.


42.56, Public Records Act


44-14, Public Records Act – Model Rules

[Ord. 1064 § 2, 2011.]

1.20.030 Policy.

The town shall provide for inspection and copying of requested public records as provided in this policy and procedure, unless such records are exempt from disclosure under Chapter 42.56 RCW or other law under which disclosure is regulated. Town staff shall provide assistance to requesters in obtaining the public records they seek. [Ord. 1064 § 3, 2011.]

1.20.040 Responsibility/authority.

(1) Public Records Officer. The town clerk/finance director is the designated public records officer. The town’s public records officer will oversee compliance with the Public Records Act and these procedures. The town’s public records officer may delegate the responsibilities of processing requests to other staff. Departments may also designate records coordinators within specific departments to facilitate access to public records within that department, so long as each coordinator is identified to the public records officer.

(2) Town Staff. Town staff will, as directed by the public records officer, provide assistance to requesters, reasonably ensure that public records are protected from damage or disorganization, and prevent fulfilling public records requests from causing excessive interference with essential functions of the town of La Conner. Assigned town staff will be responsible and held accountable to meet the town’s responsibilities of this policy. Failure to do so will result in disciplinary actions.

(3) Requesters. While requesters are not required to specifically name the Public Records Act, they must give reasonable notice that the request is being made pursuant to the Act. Requesters must request identifiable records or classes of records that the town can reasonably locate even though they are not required to specifically state the exact record sought. For example, using inexact phrases such as “relating to” a topic (such as “all records relating to the property tax increase”) will need clarification from the requestor to determine what records fairly and directly address the topic. Requests that require the creation of a compilation of data are not requests for identifiable public records. Requests may only be made for records in existence at the time the request is received and no request will be accepted for any record not yet in existence when the request is received. [Ord. 1064 § 4, 2011.]

1.20.050 Definitions.

Active Record. An active record is used in an office on a routine basis and accessed at least several times per year. Active records are usually kept on site.

Archival (Appraisal Required) Record. Public records with archival (appraisal required) designation are records which may possess enduring legal and/or historic value and must be appraised by Washington State Archives on an individual basis. Records not selected for retention by Washington State Archives may be disposed of after appraisal.

Archival (Permanent Retention) Record. Public records with archival (permanent retention) designation are records which possess enduring legal and/or historic value and must not be destroyed. These records need to either be transferred to Washington State Archives or retained and preserved according to archival best practices until such time as they are transferred to Washington State Archives.

“Essential records” are those the town must have in order to maintain or resume business continuity following a disaster. While the retention requirements for essential records may range from very short-term to archival, these records are necessary to resume core functions following a disaster. Security backup of these public records should be created and may be deposited with Washington State Archives.

Inactive Record. An inactive record is used or accessed in an office infrequently or no longer used in the conduct of current business, but is still required to be kept by the retention schedule for legal or historical purposes.

Public Record. RCW 40.14.010 defines public record as:

The term “public records” shall include any paper, correspondence, completed form, bound record book, photograph, film, sound recording, map drawing, machine-readable material, compact disc, or other document, regardless of physical form or characteristics, and including such copies thereof, that have been made by or received by any agency of the state of Washington in connection with the transaction of public business.

RCW 42.56.020 defines a public record as:

any writing containing information relating to the conduct of government or the performance of any governmental or proprietary function prepared, owned, used, or retained by any state or local agency regardless of physical form or characteristics.

If there is a conflict in the two definitions the town, subject to legal review, will apply the broadest definition.

“Records disposition” means actions taken with records when they are no longer required to be retained by the agency. Possible disposition actions include transfer to archives and destruction.

“Retention schedule” means a table setting out requirements adopted by the Washington State Local Records Committee which specifies the length of time each record series will be retained by the agency, whether the record is designated essential, archival, or potentially archival, and final disposition of the record.

Writing. RCW 42.56.020 states:

Writing means handwriting, typewriting, printing, Photostatting, photographing, and every other means of recording any form of communication or representation including, but not limited to, letters, words, pictures, sounds, or symbols, or combination thereof, and all papers, maps, magnetic or paper tapes, photographic films and prints, video recordings, magnetic or punched cards, discs, diskettes, sound recordings, and other documents including existing data compilations from which information may be obtained or translated.

[Ord. 1064 § 5, 2011.]

1.20.060 Guidelines.

(1) Municipal Services. The town of La Conner is a Washington municipal corporation that provides a full range of traditional municipal services to its citizens through various departments. Town Hall is located at 204 Douglas Street, PO Box 400, La Conner, WA 98257.

Any person wishing to request access to public records may make the request to the department head or to the public records officer. Any person seeking assistance in making a request or making a request which includes more than one department should contact the public records officer:

Town Clerk, Town of La Conner

PO Box 400

La Conner, WA 98257

Phone: 360-466-3125

Fax: 360-466-3901

Information is also available at the town of La Conner web site at

(2) Availability of Public Records.

(a) Index. The town of La Conner has determined that maintaining an index is unduly burdensome, costly, and would interfere with agency operations due to the number and complexity of records generated as a result of the wide range of town activities.

(b) Town Web Site. Many records are available on the town’s web site at Requesters are encouraged to view the documents available on the web site prior to submitting a records request.

(c) Protocol for Inspection/Copying. Public records are generally available for inspection and copying during normal business hours of Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., excluding legal holidays. Records must be inspected at an office of the town of La Conner. Requesters are prohibited from removing records from town offices.

(d) Maintenance/Order of Records. The town will maintain its records in a reasonably organized manner. The town will take reasonable actions to protect records from damage and disorganization.

(3) Making a Request for Public Records.

(a) Any person wishing to inspect or copy public records of the town shall enter the request using the town’s online request system at or make the request in writing on the town’s request form in person, by regular mail, or fax to the public records officer. Email requests must be addressed to the town clerk, sent to and include the following information:

(i) Name of requester;

(ii) Date of request;

(iii) Phone, email, and/or address or other contact information of requester;

(iv) Identification of the public records adequate for the public records officer or designee to locate the records (title and date, if known);

(v) Location (department) of the requested records, if known;

(vi) Whether the requester intends to inspect the records or obtain a photocopy of the records, at the cost set forth in subsection (15) of this section; and

(vii) Method by which the town should contact requester.

(b) Town staff will request that a public records request form be completed or that the request be submitted using the town’s online request system form available at

(c) All requests must be directed to the town clerk’s office.

(d) Affected staff will be advised by the public records officer to retain possession of records covered by public records requests, including any records that may be scheduled for destruction. Town staff may not destroy or otherwise delete covered records until the request is fulfilled.

(e) A requester is not typically required to state the purpose of the request. However, in instances where additional information is required by law or in an effort to clarify or prioritize a request and provide responsive records, the public records officer or designee may inquire about the nature or scope of the request.

(4) Processing Public Records Requests.

(a) The public records officer or designee will process requests in the order allowing the most requests to be processed in the most efficient manner.

(b) Within five business days of receipt of the request (day one is the first working day after the request is received), the public records officer or designee will do one or more of the following:

(i) Make the records available for inspection or copying; or

(ii) Identify an Internet location where the record can be accessed. Requesters who cannot access the Internet may be provided hard copies; or

(iii) If copies are requested and payment of a deposit for the copies, if any, is made or terms of payment are agreed upon, send the copies to the requester; or

(iv) Provide a reasonable estimate of when records will be available; or

(v) If the request is unclear or does not sufficiently identify the requested records, request clarification from the requester. Such clarification shall be requested and provided in writing. The public records officer or designee may revise the estimate of when records will be available; or

(vi) Deny the request.

(c) If the town of La Conner does not respond in writing within five business days of receipt of the request for disclosure, the requester should consider contacting the public records officer to determine the reason for the failure to respond.

(d) In the event that the requested records contain information that may affect rights of others and/or may be exempt from disclosure, the public records officer may, prior to providing the records, give notice to those persons. Such notice should be given to make it possible for those receiving the notice to seek an order from a court to prevent or limit the disclosure. The notice to the affected persons will typically include a copy of the request.

(e) Some records are exempt from disclosure, in whole or in part. If the town of La Conner believes that a record or portion of a record is exempt from disclosure and should be withheld, the public records officer or designee will state the specific exemption and provide a brief explanation of why the record or a portion of the record is being withheld.

(5) Inspection of Records.

(a) The town of La Conner will provide a space for persons to inspect public records. No member of the public may remove a document from the viewing area or disassemble or alter any document. The requester shall indicate which documents he or she wishes the agency to copy.

(b) Parties wishing to inspect electronic records may be provided copies of the records on a CD or other storage device, may be directed to an Internet address where the records can be accessed, or may receive records by email. If a requester cannot access records in these ways, the town may provide hard copies.

(c) The requester must make arrangements to claim or review the assembled records within 30 days of notification that the records are available for inspection or copying.

(d) If the requester fails to claim or review the records within the 30-day period or make other arrangements, the town may close the request and re-file the assembled records. In the event the requester submits a new request for the same or almost identical records, the process will begin anew.

(6) Providing Copies of Records. After inspection is complete, the public records officer or designee shall make the requested copies or arrange for copying. The requester shall pay any applicable deposit prior to copies being made. Full payment for copies must be received prior to delivery of the requested copies.

(7) Providing Records in Installments.

(a) When the request is for a large number of records or when a portion of responsive records is more readily available than others, the public records officer or designee may provide access for inspection and copying in installments if he or she reasonably determines that it would be practical to provide the records in that way.

(b) If, within 30 days, the requester fails to inspect the available installments, the public records officer may discontinue his/her search for the remaining records and close the request.

(8) Completion of Response to Inspect Records. When the search for requested records is complete and all requested records are provided for inspection, the public records officer or designee will indicate that the town has completed a reasonable search for the requested records and made any located, nonexempt records available for inspection.

(9) Closing Withdrawn or Abandoned Requests. When the requester either withdraws the request or fails to fulfill his or her obligation to timely inspect the records or fails to pay the required amount due for requested copies, the public records officer will close the request and indicate to the requester that the town has closed the request.

(10) Later Discovered Documents. If, after the town has informed the requester that it has provided responsive records, the town becomes aware of additional responsive documents existing at the time of the request, it will promptly inform the requester of the additional documents and provide them as soon as possible. However, a public records request is not continuing in nature. If a requester desires additional records created or obtained by the town after the date of the original request, the requester must submit a new request.

(11) Completion of Request. The town’s response to a request shall be deemed completed upon the requester’s inspection of the records or upon notification that copies of all the requested records are available for payment and delivery or pickup, or that no responsive records exist.

(12) No Duty to Create New Records. The town is not obligated to create new records or compile data to satisfy a records request; however, the town may, at its discretion, create such new records to fulfill the request where the town deems that method of response more expedient.

(13) Processing of Public Records Requests – Electronic Records.

(a) The process for requesting electronic records is the same as for requesting public records in hard copy.

(b) When a requester seeks records in an electronic format, the public records officer will provide the nonexempt records or portions of such records that are reasonably locatable in an electronic format that is used by the agency and is generally commercially available, or in a format that is reasonably translatable from the format in which the agency keeps the record.

(c) The cost of providing electronic records is addressed in WAC 44-14-07003. It provides, in part:

As with charges for paper copies, “actual cost” is the primary factor in charging for electronic records. In many cases, the “actual cost” of providing an existing electronic record is de minimis. However, if the agency has a paper-only copy of a record and the requester requests an electronic copy, the agency incurs an actual cost in scanning the record (if the agency has a scanner at its offices).

(d) Electronic mail (email) is an informational transfer system which uses computers for sending and receiving messages. Email messages are public records when they are prepared, owned, used, or retained by the town and relate to the conduct of government or performance of any governmental or proprietary function.

(14) Exemptions.

(a) The Public Records Act provides that a number of types of documents are exempt from public inspection and copying. In addition, documents are exempt from disclosure if any other statute exempts or prohibits disclosure. Requesters should take note that there are many exemptions contained outside of the Public Records Act that may restrict the availability for inspection or release of some documents. Many such exemptions are listed in LCMC 1.20.070(1). This list is for informational purposes only and failure to list an exemption shall not affect the efficacy or application of any exemption.

(b) The town is prohibited by statute from disclosing lists of individuals for commercial purposes.

(15) Costs of Providing Copies of Public Records.

(a) There is no fee for inspecting public records.

(b) Fifteen cents per page will be charged to obtain standard black and white photocopies. If, at the town’s discretion, materials need to be copied by an outside source either due to volume, current workload of town staff, or any other reason, the requester will be charged the actual amount invoiced to the town by the copying vendor.

(c) Ten cents per page for public records scanned into an electronic format or for the use of the equipment to scan the records.

(d) Five cents per each four electronic files or attachment uploaded to email, cloud-based data storage service, or other means of electronic delivery.

(e) Ten cents per gigabyte for the transmission of public records in an electronic format or for the use of agency equipment to send the records electronically.

(f) Envelopes and/or packaging are charged at the actual costs of those supplies.

(g) Postage is charged at the actual postage costs of such postage.

(h) The charges of this subsection may be combined to the extent that more than one type of charge applies to a particular request, such as the actual cost of any digital storage media or device provided, the actual cost of any container or envelope used to mail the copies to the requestor, and the actual postage or delivery charge.

(i) In the event a request is estimated to exceed $25.00, the town may require the requester to deposit an amount not to exceed 10 percent of the estimated cost prior to the duplication of record(s).

(j) Payment may be made by cash, check, or money order payable to the town of La Conner.

(16) Review of Denials of Public Records.

(a) Any person who objects to the initial denial or partial denial of a records request may petition in writing to the public records officer for a review of that decision. The petition must include a copy of or shall reasonably identify the written statement by the public records officer or designee denying the request.

(b) The public records officer or designee will immediately consider the petition and either affirm or reverse the denial within two business days following the public records officer’s receipt of the petition, or within such time as the town and the requester mutually agree. [Ord. 1159 § 1, 2017; Ord. 1068 §§ 1, 2, 2011; Ord. 1064 § 6, 2011.]

1.20.070 Appendixes.

(1) List of Exemptions.

RCW    Title

42.56.230    Personal information.

42.56.240    Investigative, law enforcement, and crime victims.

42.56.250    Employment and licensing.

42.56.260    Real estate appraisals.

42.56.270    Financial, commercial, and proprietary information.

42.56.280    Preliminary drafts, notes, recommendations, intra-agency memorandums.

42.56.290    Agency party to controversy.

42.56.300    Archeological sites.

42.56.310    Library records.

42.56.320    Educational information.

42.56.330    Public utilities and transportation.

42.56.340    Timeshare, condominium, etc. owner lists.

42.56.350    Health professionals.

42.56.360    Health care.

42.56.370    Domestic Violence Program, rape crisis center clients.

42.56.380    Agriculture and livestock.

42.56.390    Emergency or transitional housing.

42.56.400    Insurance and financial institutions.

42.56.410    Employment security department records.

42.56.420    Security.

42.56.430    Fish and wildlife.

42.56.440    Veterans’ discharge papers – Exceptions.

42.56.450    Check cashers and sellers licensing applications.

42.56.460    Fireworks.

42.56.470    Correctional industries workers.

42.56.480    Inactive programs.

(2) Exemptions Outside the Public Records Act.


2.64.111     Documents regarding discipline/retirement of judges.

2.64.113     Confidentiality – Violations.

4.24.550     Information on sex offenders to public.

5.60.060     Privileged communications.

5.60.070    Court-ordered mediation records.

7.68.140     Victims’ compensation claims.

7.69A.030(4)    Child victims and witnesses – Protection of identity.

7.69A.050     Rights of child victims and witnesses – Addresses.

7.75.050     Records of dispute resolution centers.

9.51.050     Disclosing transaction of grand jury.

9.51.060     Disclosure of grand jury deposition.

9.02.100     Reproductive privacy.

9A.82.170     Financial institution records – Wrongful disclosure.

10.27.090     Grand jury testimony/evidence.

10.27.160     Grand jury reports – Release to public only by judicial order.

10.29.030     Organized crime special inquiry judge.

10.29.090     Records of special inquiry judge proceedings.

10.52.100     Records identifying child victim of sexual assault.

10.77.210     Records of persons committed for criminal insanity.

10.97.040     Criminal history information released must include disposition.

10.97.050     Conviction and criminal history information.

10.97.060     Deletion of certain criminal history record information, conditions.

10.97.070     Disclosure of identity of suspect to victim.

10.97.080     Inspection of criminal record by subject.

13.32A.090     Crisis residential centers notice to parent about child.

13.34.115     Court dependency proceedings.

13.40.217     Juveniles adjudicated of sex offenses – Release of information.

13.50.010     Maintenance of and access to juvenile records.

13.50.050     Juvenile offenders.

13.50.100     Juvenile/children records not relating to offenses.

13.60.020     Missing children information.

13.70.090     Citizen juvenile review board – Confidentiality.

18.04.405     Confidentiality of information gained by CPA.

18.19.060     Notification to clients by counselors.

18.19.180     Confidential communications with counselors.

19.215.020     Destruction of personal health and financial information.

19.34.240(3)     Private digital signature keys.

19.215.030     Compliance with federal rules.

26.04.175     Name and address of domestic violence victim in marriage records.

26.12.170     Reports of child abuse/neglect with courts.

26.23.050     Child support orders.

26.23.120     Child support records.

26.26.041     Uniform Parentage Act – Protection of participants.

26.26.450     Confidentiality of genetic testing.

26.33.330     Sealed court adoption records.

26.33.340     Agency adoption records.

26.33.343     Access to adoption records by confidential intermediary.

26.33.345     Release of name of court for adoption or relinquishment.

26.33.380     Adoption – Identity of birth parents confidential.

26.44.010     Privacy of reports on child abuse and neglect.

26.44.020(19)    Unfounded allegations of child abuse or neglect.

26.44.030     Reports of child abuse/neglect.

26.44.125     Right to review and amend abuse finding – Confidentiality.

27.53.070     Records identifying the location of archaeological sites.

29A.08.720     Voter registration records – Place of registration confidential.

29A.08.710     Voter registration records – Certain information exempt.

Chapter 40.14    Preservation and destruction of public records.

42.23.070(4)     Municipal officer disclosure of confidential information prohibited.

42.41.030(7)     Identity of local government whistleblower.

42.41.045     Non-disclosure of protected information (whistleblower).

46.52.080     Traffic accident reports – Confidentiality.

46.52.083     Traffic accident reports – Available to interested parties.

46.52.120     Traffic crimes and infractions – Confidential use by police and courts.

46.52.130(2)     Abstract of driving record.

48.62.101     Local government insurance transactions – Access to information.

50.13.060     Access to employment security records by local government agencies.

50.13.100     Disclosure of non-identifiable information or with consent.

51.28.070     Workers’ compensation records.

51.36.060     Physician information on injured workers.

60.70.040     No duty to disclose record of common law lien.

68.50.105     Autopsy reports.

68.50.320     Dental identification records – Available to law enforcement agencies.

Chapter 70.02    Medical records – Access and disclosure.

70.05.170     Child mortality reviews by local health departments.

70.24.022     Public health agency information regarding sexually transmitted disease investigations – Confidential.

70.24.024     Transcripts and records of hearings regarding sexually transmitted diseases.

70.24.105     HIV/STD records.

70.28.020     Local health department TB records – Confidential.

70.48.100     Jail records and booking photos.

70.58.055     Birth certificates – Certain information confidential.

70.58.104     Vital records, research confidentiality safeguards.

70.96A.150     Alcohol and drug abuse treatment programs.

70.123.075     Client records of domestic violence programs.

70.125.065     Records of rape crisis centers in discovery.

71.05.390     Information about mental health consumers.

Chapter 70.02    Applies to mental health records.

71.05.425     Notice of release or transfer of committed person after offense dismissal.

71.05.427    Information that can be released.

71.05.440     Penalties for unauthorized release of information.

71.05.445     Release of mental health information to Department of Corrections.

71.05.620     Authorization requirements and access to court records.

71.05.630     Release of mental health treatment records.

71.05.640     Access to treatment records.

71.24.035(5)(g)     Mental health information system – State, county and regional support networks – Confidentiality of client records.

71.34.340    Mental health treatment of minors – Records confidential.

71.34.335    Court records for minors related to mental health treatment.

71.34.345    Release of mental health services information.

71A.14.070     Records regarding developmental disability – Confidentiality.

72.09.345     Notice to public about sex offenders.

72.09.585(3)     Disclosure of inmate records to local agencies – Confidentiality.

74.04.060     Applicants and recipients of public assistance.

74.04.520     Food stamp program confidentiality.

74.09.900     Medical assistance.

74.13.121     Financial information of adoptive parents.

74.13.280     Children in out-of-home placements – Confidentiality.

74.20.280     Child support enforcement – Local agency cooperation, information.

74.34.095     Abuse of vulnerable adults – Confidentiality of investigations and reports.

82.32.330     Disclosure of tax information.

84.36.389     Confidential income data in property tax records held by assessor.

84.40.020     Confidential income data supplied to assessor regarding real property.

(3) Selected Federal Confidentiality Statutes and Rules.

20 USC

1232g    Family Education Rights and Privacy Act


42 USC

290dd-2     Confidentiality of Substance Abuse Records


(vii)(l)    Limits on Use and Disclosure of Social Security Numbers

654(26)     State Plans for Child Support

671(a)(8)     State Plans for Foster Care and Adoption Assistance

1396a(7)    State Plans for Medical Assistance



272.1(c)    Food Stamp Applicants and Recipients


34 CFR

361.38    State Vocational Rehabilitation Services Programs


42 CFR

Part 2 (2.1

– 2.67)    Confidentiality of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Patient Records

431.300 – 307    Safeguarding Information on Applicants and Recipients of Medical Assistance

483.420    Client Protections for Intermediate Care Facilities for the Mentally Retarded

5106a(b)(2)(A)     Grants to States for Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention and Treatment Programs


45 CFR

160 – 164     HIPAA Privacy Rule

[Ord. 1064 § 7, 2011.]