Chapter 2.60


2.60.010    Definitions.

2.60.020    Duty to maintain records.

2.60.030    Legal custodians.

2.60.040    Public access to records.

2.60.050    Access procedures.

2.60.060    Limitations on right to access.

2.60.070    Destruction of records.

2.60.080    Preservation through microfilm.

2.60.010 Definitions.

As used in this chapter:

“Authority” means any of the following city entities having custody of a city record: an office, elected official, agency, board, commission, committee, council, department or public body corporate and politic created by constitution, law, ordinance, rule or order; or a formally constituted subunit of the foregoing.

“Custodian” means that officer, department head, division head or employee of the city designated under Section 2.60.030 or otherwise responsible by law to keep and preserve any city records or file, deposit or keep such records in his office, or is lawfully in possession or entitled to possession of such public records and who is required by this section to respond to requests for access to such records.

“Record” means any material on which written, drawn, printed, spoken, visual or electromagnetic information is recorded or preserved, regardless of physical form or characteristics, which has been created or is being kept by an authority. Record includes, but is not limited to, handwritten, typed or printed pages, maps, charts, photographs, films, recordings, tapes (including computer tapes), and computer printouts. Record does not include drafts, notes, preliminary computations and like materials prepared for the originator’s personal use or prepared by the originator in the name of a person for whom the originator is working; materials which are purely the personal property of the custodian and have no relation to his office; materials to which access is limited by copyright, patent or bequest; and published materials in the possession of an authority other than a public library which are available for sale, or which are available for inspection at a public library. (Ord. 2131-08 § 1 (part), 2008)

2.60.020 Duty to maintain records.

A.    Except as provided under Section 2.60.070, each officer and employee of the city shall safely keep and preserve all records received from his predecessor or other persons and required by law to be filed, deposited or kept in his office or which are in the lawful possession or control of the officer or employee or his deputies, or to the possession or control of which he may be lawfully entitled as such officers or employees.

B.    Upon the expiration of an officer’s term of office or an employee’s term of employment, or whenever the office or position of employment becomes vacant, each such officer or employee shall deliver to his successor all records then in his custody and the successor shall receipt therefor to the officer or employee, who shall file the receipt with the city clerk. If a vacancy occurs before a successor is selected or qualifies, such records shall be delivered to and receipted for by the clerk, on behalf of the successor, to be delivered to the successor upon the latter’s receipt. (Ord. 2131-08 § 1 (part), 2008)

2.60.030 Legal custodians.

A.    Each elected official is the legal custodian of his records and the records of his office, but the official may designate an employee of his staff to act as the legal custodian.

B.    Unless otherwise prohibited by law, the city clerk or the clerk’s designee shall act as legal custodian for the council and for any committees, commissions, boards or other authorities created by ordinance or resolution of the council. This shall not include the police department, whose custodian is the chief, nor the fire department, whose custodian is the chief.

C.    For every authority not specified in subsections A or B of this section, the authority’s chief administrative officer is the legal custodian for the authority, but the officer may designate an employee of his staff to act as the legal custodian.

D.    Each legal custodian shall name a person to act as legal custodian in his absence or the absence of his designee.

E.    The legal custodian shall have full legal power to render decisions and to carry out the duties of an authority under subchapter II of Chapter 19, Wisconsin Statutes, and this section. The designation of a legal custodian does not affect the powers and duties of an authority under this section. (Ord. 2131-08 § 1 (part), 2008)

2.60.040 Public access to records.

A.    Except as provided in Section 2.60.060, any person has a right to inspect a record and to make or receive a copy of any record as provided in Section 19.35(1), Wisconsin Statutes.

B.    Records will be available for inspection and copying during all regular office hours.

C.    If regular office hours are not maintained at the location where records are kept, the records will be available for inspection and copying upon at least forty-eight (48) hours’ advance notice of intent to inspect or copy.

D.    A requester shall be permitted to use facilities comparable to those available to city employees to inspect, copy or abstract a record.

E.    The legal custodian may require supervision during inspection or may impose other reasonable restrictions on the manner of access to an original record if the record is irreplaceable or easily damaged.

F.    A requester shall be charged a fee to defray the cost of locating and copying records, as follows:

1.    The cost of photocopying shall be as determined by the city clerk. The cost shall not exceed the actual, necessary and direct cost of reproduction.

2.    If the form of a written record does not permit copying, the actual and necessary cost of photographing and photographic processing shall be charged.

3.    The actual full cost of providing a copy of other records not in printed form on paper such as films, computer printouts and audio or video tapes shall be charged.

4.    If mailing or shipping is necessary, the actual cost thereof shall also be charged.

5.    There shall be no charge for locating a record unless the actual cost therefor exceeds fifty dollars ($50.00), in which case the actual cost will be determined by the legal custodian and billed to the requester.

6.    The legal custodian shall estimate the cost of all applicable fees and may require a cash deposit adequate to assure payment if such estimate exceeds five dollars ($5.00).

7.    Elected and appointed officials of the city shall not be required to pay for public records they may reasonably require for the proper performance of their official duties.

8.    The legal custodian may provide copies of a record without charge or at a reduced charge where he determines that waiver or reduction of the fee is in the public interest.

G.    Pursuant to Section 19.34, Wisconsin Statutes, and the guidelines therein listed, each authority shall adopt, prominently display and make available for inspection and copying at its offices, for the guidance of the public, a notice containing a description of its organization and the established times and places at which the legal custodian from whom, and the methods whereby, the public may obtain information and access to records in its custody, make requests for records, or obtain copies of records, and the costs thereof. Each authority shall also prominently display at his offices, for the guidance of the public, a copy of this section. This subsection does not apply to members of the council. (Ord. 2131-08 § 1 (part), 2008)

2.60.050 Access procedures.

A.    A request to inspect or copy a record shall be made to the legal custodian. A request shall be deemed sufficient if it reasonably describes the requested record or the information requested. However, a request for a record without a reasonable limitation as to subject matter or length of time represented by the record does not constitute a sufficient request. A request may be made orally, but a request must be in writing before an action to enforce the request is commenced under Section 19.37, Wisconsin Statutes. Except as provided below, no request may be refused because the person making the request is unwilling to be identified or to state the purpose of the request. No request may be refused because the request is received by mail unless prepayment of a fee is required under Section 2.60.040(F)(6). A requester may be required to show acceptable identification whenever the requested record is kept at a private residence or whenever security reasons or federal law or regulations so require.

B.    If the legal custodian has doubts as to whether the requested records are exempt from disclosure, he shall have three days to confer with the city attorney before making the proper determination.

C.    A request for a record may be denied as provided in Section 2.60.060. If a request is made orally, the request may be denied orally unless a demand for a written statement of the reasons denying the request is made by the requester within five business days of the oral denial. If a written request is denied in whole or in part, the requester shall receive a written statement of the reasons for denying the request. Every written denial of a request shall inform the requester that if the request for the record was made in writing, then the determination is subject to review upon petition for a writ of mandamus under Section 19.37(1), Wisconsin Statutes, or upon application to the attorney general or a district attorney. (Ord. 2131-08 § 1 (part), 2008)

2.60.060 Limitations on right to access.

A.    As provided by Section 19.36, Wisconsin Statutes, the following records are exempt from inspection under this section:

1.    Records specifically exempted from disclosure by state or federal law or authorized to be exempted from disclosure by state law;

2.    Any record relating to investigative information obtained for law enforcement purposes if federal law or regulations require exemption from disclosure or if exemption from disclosure is a condition to receipt of aids by the state;

3.    Computer programs, although the material used as input for a computer program or the material produced as a product of the computer program is subject to inspection;

4.    A record or any portion of a record containing information qualifying as a common law trade secret;

5.    Employment records under Section 103.13, Wisconsin Statutes.

B.    As provided by Section 43.30, Wisconsin Statutes, public library circulation records are exempt from inspection under this section.

C.    In responding to a request for inspection or copying of a record which is not specifically exempt from disclosure, the legal custodian, after conferring with the city attorney, may deny the request in whole or in part only if he determines that the harm to the public interest resulting from disclosure would outweigh the public interest in full access to the requested record. Examples of matters for which disclosure may be refused include, but are not limited to, the following:

1.    Records obtained under official pledges of confidentiality which were necessary and given in order to obtain the information contained in them;

2.    Records of current deliberations after a quasi-judicial hearing;

3.    Records of current deliberations concerning employment, dismissal, promotion, demotion, compensation, performance or discipline of any city officer or employee, or the investigation of charges against a city officer or employee unless such officer or employee consents to such disclosure;

4.    Records concerning current strategy for crime detection or prevention. Among, but not limited to, the reasons for denying all or parts of police records as the following:

a.    This portion contains confidential information furnished only by a confidential source who has requested anonymity as a condition of relaying this information,

b.    This portion would identify a confidential source and this would jeopardize a criminal investigation,

c.    This portion would identify a confidential source and this would endanger the life or physical safety of this source,

d.    This portion would disclose the contents of a communication between executive personnel on matters of policy, the disclosure of which would inhibit the frank and full discussion of matters necessary to set policy,

e.    This portion will jeopardize an ongoing criminal investigation in that it will disclose evidence,

f.    This portion will impair the ability of the investigating officers to function effectively in that it will disclose techniques used in investigations,

g.    This portion names law enforcement personnel. Disclosure will impair their effectiveness in their duties and subject them to harassment and physical injury,

h.    This portion identifies citizens. Disclosure may cause undue damage to the reputation of citizens in the community and violate the right to privacy under Section 895.50, Wisconsin Statutes,

i.    This information is unsubstantiated; if released, it would unduly damage the reputation of the individual or individuals involved,

j.    This portion identifies a person. Disclosure of such persons in this context would be likely to have a substantial adverse effect on their reputation,

k.    This portion identifies a juvenile. Disclosure of such person and information is in violation of Section 48.396, Wisconsin Statutes,

l.    This portion contains employee performance evaluation data,

m.    This portion contains information not made public as part of a written public speech, presentation or press release;

5.    Records of current deliberations or negotiations on the purchase of city property, investing of city funds or other city business whenever competitive or bargaining reasons require nondisclosure;

6.    Financial, medical, social or personal histories or disciplinary data of specific persons which, if disclosed, would be likely to have a substantial adverse effect upon the reputation of any person referred to in such history or data;

7.    Communications between legal counsel for the city and any officer, agent or employee of the city when advice is being rendered concerning strategy with respect to current litigation in which the city or any of its officers, agents or employees is or is likely to become involved, or communications which are privileged under Section 905.03, Wisconsin Statutes.

D.    If a record contains information that may be made public and information that may not be made public, the custodian of the record shall provide the information that may be made public and delete the information that may not be made public from the record before release. The custodian shall confer with the city attorney prior to releasing any such record and shall follow the guidance of the city attorney when separating out the exempt material. If in the judgment of the custodian and the city attorney there is no feasible way to separate the exempt material from the nonexempt material without unreasonably jeopardizing nondisclosure of the exempt material, the entire record shall be withheld from disclosure. (Ord. 2131-08 § 1 (part), 2008)

2.60.070 Destruction of records.

The destruction of city records shall be governed by the Records Disposition Authorizations of the Wisconsin Public Records Board dated August 31, 2015, which are on file in the office of the city clerk. The destruction of any public record which is not provided for therein shall only be done pursuant to Wisconsin law. (Ord. 2430-15 § 1, 2015: Ord. 2131-08 § 1 (part), 2008)

2.60.080 Preservation through microfilm.

Any city officer or the director of any department or division of city government may, subject to the approval of the mayor and the council, keep and preserve public records in his possession by means of microfilm or other photographic reproduction method. Such records shall meet the standard for photographic reproduction set forth in Section 16.61(7)(a) and (b), Wisconsin Statutes, and shall be considered original records for all purposes. Such records shall be preserved along with other files of the department or division and shall be open to public inspection and copying according to the provisions of state law and of Sections 2.60.040 and 2.60.060. (Ord. 2131-08 § 1 (part), 2008)