Chapter 1.30
PUBLIC RECORDS

Sections:

1.30.010    Authority and purpose.

1.30.020    Agency description—Contact information—Public records officer.

1.30.030    Availability of public records.

1.30.040    Processing of public records requests—General.

1.30.050    Processing of public records requests—Electronic records.

1.30.060    Exemptions.

1.30.070    Costs of providing copies of public records.

1.30.080    Review of denials of public records.

1.30.900    Severability.

1.30.010 Authority and purpose.

A.    RCW 42.56.070(1) requires each agency to make available for inspection and copying nonexempt “public records” in accordance with published rules. The Act defines “public record” to include 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. This definition does not include records that are not otherwise required to be retained by the agency and are held by volunteers who: (1) do not serve in an administrative capacity; (2) have not been appointed by the agency to an agency board, commission, or internship; and (3) do not have a supervisory role or delegated agency authority. RCW 42.56.070(2) requires each agency to set forth “for informational purposes” every law, in addition to the Public Records Act, that exempts or prohibits the disclosure of public records held by that agency.

B.    The purpose of these rules is to establish the procedures the city of Prosser will follow in order to provide full access to public records. These rules provide information to persons wishing to request access to public records of the city of Prosser and establish processes for both requestors and the city of Prosser staff that are designed to best assist members of the public in obtaining such access.

C.    The purpose of the Act is to provide the public full access to information concerning the conduct of government, mindful of individuals’ privacy rights and the desirability of the efficient administration of government. The Act and these rules will be interpreted in favor of disclosure. In carrying out its responsibilities under the Act, the city of Prosser, Washington, will be guided by the provisions of the Act describing its purposes and interpretation. (Ord. 3012 § 1, 2017: Ord. 2550 § 1, 2006).

1.30.020 Agency description—Contact information—Public records officer.

A.    The city of Prosser is a noncharter code city providing a full range of municipal services for its citizens. The city of Prosser’s central office is located at City Hall, 601 7th Street, Prosser, Washington 99350.

B.    Any person wishing to request access to public records of the city of Prosser, or seeking assistance in making such a request should contact the public records officer of the city of Prosser:

Public Records Officer

City Hall

601 7th Street

Prosser, Washington 99350

509-786-2332

509-786-3717

Information is also available at the city of Prosser’s website at www.cityofprosser.com.

C.    The public records officer will oversee compliance with the Act but another city of Prosser staff member may process the request. Therefore, these rules will refer to the public records officer “or designee.” The public records officer or designee and the city of Prosser will provide the “fullest assistance” to requestors; 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 city of Prosser. (Ord. 2550 § 2, 2006).

1.30.030 Availability of public records.

A.    Hours for Inspection of Records. Public records are available for inspection and copying during normal business hours of the city of Prosser, Monday through Friday, nine a.m. to five p.m., excluding legal holidays. Records must be inspected at the offices of the city of Prosser.

B.    Records Index. The city of Prosser finds that maintaining an index is unduly burdensome and would interfere with agency operations. The requirement would unduly burden or interfere with the city of Prosser’s operations in the following ways:

1.    The city of Prosser does not have software which allows it to map out, archive, and then electronically search for electronic documents.

2.    The city of Prosser does not have sufficient staff to scan and provide data entry into an electronic database even if it obtained such software.

C.    Organization of Records. The city of Prosser will maintain its records in a reasonably organized manner. The city of Prosser will take reasonable actions to protect records from damage and disorganization. A requestor shall not take the city of Prosser’s records from the city of Prosser’s offices without the permission of the public records officer or designee. A variety of records are available on the city of Prosser’s website at www.cityofprosser.com. Requestors are encouraged to view the documents available on the website prior to submitting a records request.

D.    Making a Request for Public Records.

1.    Any person wishing to inspect or copy public records of the city of Prosser should make the request in writing on the city of Prosser’s request form, or by letter, fax, or e-mail addressed to the public records officer and including the following information:

a.    Name of requestor;

b.    Address of requestor;

c.    Other contact information, including telephone number and any e-mail address;

d.    Identification of the public records adequate for the public records officer or designee to locate the records as provided for in RCW 42.56.080; and

e.    The date and time of day of the request.

2.    If the requestor wishes to have copies of the records made instead of simply inspecting them, he or she should so indicate and make arrangements to pay for copies of the records or a deposit.

3.    A form is available for use by requestors at the office of the public records officer and on-line at www.cityofprosser.com.

4.    The public records officer or designee may accept requests for public records that contain the above information by telephone or in person. If the public records officer or designee accepts such a request, he or she will confirm receipt of the information and the substance of the request in writing. (Ord. 3012 § 2, 2017: Ord. 2550 § 3, 2006).

1.30.040 Processing of public records requests—General.

A.    Providing “Fullest Assistance.” The city of Prosser is charged by statute with adopting rules which provide for how it will “provide full access to public records,” “protect records from damage or disorganization,” “prevent excessive interference with other essential functions of the agency,” provide “fullest assistance” to requestors, and provide the “most timely possible action” on public records requests. 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.    Acknowledging Receipt of Request. Within five business days of the receipt of the request, the public records officer or designee will do one or more of the following:

1.    Make the records available for inspection or copying;

2.    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 requestor;

3.    Provide a reasonable estimate of when records will be available;

4.    If the request is unclear or does not sufficiently identify the requested records, request clarification from the requestor. Such clarification may be requested and provided by telephone. The city shall respond to that portion of the request that is clear in accordance with this section. The public records officer or designee may revise the estimate of when records will be available; or

5.    Deny the request.

6.    The day on which the public records request was received by the public records officer shall not be included when calculating the five business days pursuant to this section.

C.    Consequences of Failure to Respond. If the city of Prosser does not respond in writing within five business days of receipt of the request for disclosure as required in subsection B of this section, the requestor should consider contacting the public records officer to determine the reason for the failure to respond.

D.    Protecting Rights of Others. In the event that the requested records contain information that may affect rights of others and may be exempt from disclosure, the public records officer may, prior to providing the records, give notice to such others whose rights may be affected by the disclosure. Such notice should be given so as to make it possible for those other persons to contact the requestor and ask him or her to revise the request, or, if necessary, seek an order from a court to prevent or limit the disclosure. The notice to the affected persons will include a copy of the request. For sensitive or confidential records which may only be released to certain individuals or organizations, the public records officer or designee shall require positive identification of the person or organization requesting the documents before the documents are released.

E.    Records Exempt from Disclosure. Some records are exempt from disclosure, in whole or in part. If the city of Prosser believes that 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. If only a portion of a record is exempt from disclosure, but the remainder is not exempt, the public records officer or designee will redact the exempt portions, provide the nonexempt portions, and indicate to the requestor why portions of the record are being redacted.

F.    Inspection of Records.

1.    Consistent with other demands, the city of Prosser shall promptly provide space to inspect public records. No member of the public may remove a document from the viewing area or disassemble or alter any document. The requestor shall indicate which documents he or she wishes the agency to copy.

2.    The requestor must claim or review the assembled records within thirty days of the city of Prosser’s notification to him or her that the records are available for inspection or copying. The agency will notify the requestor in writing of this requirement and inform the requestor that he or she should contact the agency to make arrangements to claim or review the records. If the requestor or a representative of the requestor fails to claim or review the records within the thirty-day period or make other arrangements, the city of Prosser may close the request and refile the assembled records. Other public records requests can be processed ahead of a subsequent request by the same person for the same or almost identical records, which can be processed as a new request.

G.    Providing Copies of Records. After inspection is complete, the public records officer or designee shall make the requested copies or arrange for copying.

H.    Providing Records in Installments. When the request is for a large number of records, the public records officer or designee will 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. If, within thirty days, the requestor fails to inspect the entire set of records or one or more of the installments, the public records officer or designee may stop searching for the remaining records and close the request.

I.    Completion of Inspection. When the inspection of the requested records is complete and all requested copies are provided, the public records officer or designee will indicate that the city of Prosser has completed a diligent search for the requested records and made any located nonexempt records available for inspection.

J.    Closing Withdrawn or Abandoned Request. When the requestor either withdraws the request or fails to fulfill his or her obligations to inspect the records or pay the deposit or final payment for the requested copies, the public records officer will close the request and indicate to the requestor that the city of Prosser has closed the request.

K.    Later Discovered Documents. If, after the city of Prosser has informed the requestor that it has provided all available records, the city of Prosser becomes aware of additional responsive documents existing at the time of the request, it will promptly inform the requestor of the additional documents and provide them on an expedited basis.

L.    The city may deny a “bot request” in accordance with the provisions of RCW 42.56.080(3). (Ord. 3012 § 3, 2017: Ord. 2550 § 4, 2006).

1.30.050 Processing of public records requests—Electronic records.

A.    Requesting Electronic Records. The process for requesting electronic public records is the same as for requesting paper public records.

B.    Providing Electronic Records. When a requestor requests 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.    Customized Access to Databases. With the consent of the requestor, the agency may provide customized access under RCW 43.105.355 if the record is not reasonably locatable or not reasonably translatable into the format requested. The city may charge a fee consistent with RCW 43.105.355 for such customized access. (Ord. 3012 § 4, 2017).

1.30.060 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. Requestors should be aware of the following exemptions, outside the Public Records Act, that restrict the availability of some documents held by the city of Prosser for inspection and copying:

1.    The following sections of the Revised Code of Washington:

a.    RCW 4.24.550, Information on sex offenders to public.

b.    RCW 5.60.060, Privileged communications.

c.    RCW 5.60.070, Court-ordered mediation records.

d.    RCW 7.68.140, Victim’s compensation claims.

e.    RCW 7.69A.050, Rights of child victims and witnesses—Addresses.

f.    RCW 7.75.050, Records of dispute resolution centers.

g.    RCW 9.02.100, Reproductive privacy.

h.    RCW 9A.82.170, Financial institution records.

i.    RCW 10.52.100, Records identifying child victim of sexual assault.

j.    RCW 10.77.210, Records of persons committed for criminal insanity.

k.    Chapter 10.97 RCW, Washington State Criminal Records Privacy Act.

l.    RCW 13.34.115, Court dependency proceedings.

m.    RCW 13.40.217, Juveniles adjudicated of sex offenses—Release of information.

n.    Chapter 13.50 RCW, Keeping and Release of Records by Juvenile Justice or Care Agencies.

o.    RCW 13.60.020, Missing children information.

p.    RCW 18.04.405, Confidentiality of information gained by CPA.

q.    RCW 19.215.020, Destruction of personal health and financial information.

r.    RCW 19.215.030, Compliance with federal rules.

s.    RCW 26.44.010, Privacy of reports on child abuse and neglect.

t.    RCW 26.44.125, Right to review and amend abuse finding—Confidentiality.

u.    RCW 27.53.070, Records identifying location of archaeological sites.

v.    Chapter 40.14 RCW, Preservation and Destruction of Public Records.

w.    RCW 42.23.070, Municipal officer disclosure of confidential information prohibited.

x.    RCW 42.41.030, Identity of local government whistleblower.

y.    RCW 42.41.045, Non-disclosure of protected information—Whistleblower.

z.    RCW 46.52.080, Traffic accident reports—Confidentiality.

aa.    RCW 46.52.083, Traffic accident reports—Available to interested parties.

bb.    RCW 46.52.120, Traffic crimes and infractions—Confidential use by police and courts.

cc.    RCW 46.52.130, Abstract of driving record.

dd.    RCW 48.62.101, Local government insurance transactions—Access to information.

ee.    RCW 50.13.060, Access to employment security records by local government agencies.

ff.    RCW 50.13.100, Disclosure of non-identifiable information or with consent.

gg.    RCW 51.28.070, Worker’s compensation records.

hh.    RCW 51.36.060, Physician information on injured workers.

ii.    RCW 60.70.040, No duty to disclose record of common law lien.

jj.    RCW 68.50.105, Autopsy reports.

kk.    RCW 68.50.320, Dental identification records—Available to law enforcement agencies.

ll.    Chapter 70.02 RCW, Medical Records.

mm.    RCW 70.48.100, Jail records and booking photos.

nn.    RCW 70.58.055, Birth certificates—Certain information confidential.

oo.    RCW 70.58.104, Vital records, research confidentiality safeguards.

pp.    RCW 70.96A.150, Alcohol and drug abuse treatment programs.

qq.    RCW 70.123.075, Client records of domestic violence programs.

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

ss.    RCW 72.09.345, Notice to public about sex offenders.

tt.    RCW 74.34.095, Abuse of vulnerable adults—Confidentiality of investigations and reports.

2.    The following federal statutes or rules:

a.    20 USC 1232, Family Education Rights and Privacy Act.

b.    Confidentiality of Substance Abuse Records.

c.    42 USC 405, Limits on Use and Disclosure of Social Security Numbers.

d.    42 CFR Part 2, Confidentiality of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Patient Records.

e.    45 CFR 160-164, HIPAA Privacy Rule.

B.    The city of Prosser is prohibited by statute from disclosing lists of individuals for commercial purposes.

C.    The above list is for informational purposes only and the city of Prosser’s failure to list an exemption shall not affect the efficacy of any exemption. (Ord. 2550 § 5, 2006).

1.30.070 Costs of providing copies of public records.

A.    Costs for Paper Copies. There is no fee for inspecting public records. Costs for copies of public records shall be as provided for by separate ordinance passed by the city council. Before beginning to make the copies, the public records officer or designee may require a deposit of up to ten percent of the estimated costs of copying all the records selected by the requestor. The public records officer or designee may also require the payment of the remainder of the copying costs before providing all the records, or the payment of the costs of copying an installment before providing that installment. The city of Prosser will not charge sales tax when it makes copies of public records.

B.    Costs for Electronic Records. A requestor may obtain electronic copies of records including, but not limited to, information on a floppy disk, flash drive, or other storage medium upon payment of the fee provided for by separate ordinance passed by the city council.

C.    Costs of Mailing. The city of Prosser may also charge actual costs of mailing, including the cost of the shipping container.

D.    Payment. Payment may be made by cash, check, or money order to the city of Prosser.

E.    Waiver of Copying Charges. The city of Prosser may waive copy charges for administrative convenience as provided by separate ordinance passed by the city council.

F.    The charges in this section may be combined to the extent that more than one type of charge applies to copies produced in response to a particular request. (Ord. 3012 § 5, 2017: Ord. 2550 § 6, 2006).

1.30.080 Review of denials of public records.

A.    Petition for Internal Administrative Review of Denial of Access. Any person who objects to the initial denial or partial denial of a records request may petition in writing (including e-mail) to the public records officer for a review of that decision. The petition shall include a copy of or reasonably identify the written statement by the public records officer or designee denying the request.

B.    Consideration of Petition for Review. The public records officer shall promptly provide the petition and any other relevant information to the city administrator. The city administrator will immediately consider the petition and either affirm or reverse the denial within two business days following the city of Prosser’s receipt of the petition, or within such other time as the city of Prosser and the requestor mutually agree to.

C.    Judicial Review. Any person may obtain court review of denials of public records request pursuant to RCW 42.56.550 at the conclusion of two business days after the initial denial regardless of any internal administrative appeal. (Ord. 2550 § 7, 2006).

1.30.900 Severability.

If any section, subsection, sentence, clause, paragraph, phrase, or word of this chapter should be held to be invalid or unconstitutional by a court of competent jurisdiction, such invalidity or unconstitutionality thereof shall not affect the validity or constitutionality of any other section, subsection, sentence, clause, paragraph, phrase or word of this chapter. (Ord. 2550 § 8, 2006).