City of Williamsport

Open Records Policy

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Effective January 1, 2009, this policy is to provide legal residents of the United States the right to request, inspect and obtain copies of public records per Pennsylvania's Right-to-Know Law. With respect to the policy, the following requests shall be routed immediately to the City of Williamsport's Open Record's Officer:

      a) A "Right to Know Request" or an "Open Records Request"; or,
      b) A request for any document(s) that would not be distributed in the course of normal, everyday operations; or,
      c) A request for an item or items that may potentially be of a confidential, proprietary or legal nature.

All Right to Know requests shall be forwarded to the City of Williamsport's Open Records Officer by 4:30 p.m. on the date the request is received by any department. Any questions arising from requests for records must be directed immediately to the Open Records Officer.

In the event a provision of this policy conflicts with the Open Records Act or any other State or Federal law, that portion of the provisions of this policy shall not apply.

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Unless otherwise provided by law, a public record of the city is accessible for inspection and duplication by a requester in accordance with this policy. A public record will be provided to a requester in the medium requested if the public record exists in that medium; otherwise, it will be provided in the medium in which it exists. Public records will be available for access during regular business hours. Nothing in this policy will provide for access to a record which is not a public record.

The city will make its public records and copies thereof related to City Council Meeting Agendas and City Council Meeting Agenda Items available for inspection in accordance with established guidelines as noted in Article 111.02, Rule 5 of the Codified Ordinances of the City of Williamsport with the exception of those records exempt from such inspection and copying by law and city policy.

Requests for access to records must be in written form. A Right to Know Request form can be obtained in person or online here If the requester wishes to initiate their appeal rights or pursue the relief and remedies provided for in Right to Know Law, the request for access to records must be a written request. The city will honor all written requests on the form provided by the city [Exhibit A] or by the State Office of Open Records [Exhibit B] for access to city public records. Such requests may be submitted in person, by mail, facsimile or email. The request must be addressed to and received by the Open Records Officer and must contain the name and address to which the city shall address its response and a description of the records sought with sufficient specificity to allow the Open Records Officer to determine which records are being requested. A written request shall not include any explanation of the requester's reasons for the request and shall not include any explanation of the requesters intended use of the records.

When responding to a request for access, the city is not required to create a public record which does not currently exist or to compile, maintain, format or organize a public record in a manner in which it does not currently compile, maintain, format or organize the public record.

If a public record is only maintained electronically or in other non-paper media, the city will, upon request, duplicate the public record on paper when responding to a request for access in accordance with this policy.

If the city determines that a public record contains information which is subject to access, as well as information which is not subject to access, the city's response will grant access to the information which is subject to access and deny access to the information which is not subject to access. The city will redact from the public record information which is not subject to access and the response will grant access to the information which is subject to access.

Upon receipt of a written request for access to public records, the city will make a good faith effort to determine if the record requested is a public record and will respond as promptly as possible

     1) Stamp the date of receipt on the written request
     2) Compute the day on which the five (5) day period will expire and make a notation of that date on the written request form.
     3) Maintain an electronic or paper copy of the written request including all documents submitted with the request until the request has been fulfilled and all potential appeal timeframes have expired.
     4) If an appeal is filed, keep the records until a final determination is issued or the appeal is deemed denied.
     5) Create a file and keep all of the following:
          a. The original request.
          b. A copy of the response.
          c. A record of written communications with the requester.
          d. Appeal made by requester if applicable.
          e. Final appeal determination from the State Office of Open Records if applicable.

If the city fails to send the response within five (5) business days of receipt of the written request for access, the written request for access shall be deemed denied. The five (5) day time clock begins the day following receipt by the city, excluding exceptions as listed below:

      a.) The request for access requires redaction of a public record;
      b.) The request for access requires the retrieval of a record stored in a remote location;
      c.) A timely response to the request for access cannot be accomplished due to bona fide and specified staffing limitations;
      d.) A legal review is necessary to determine whether the record is a public record subject to access under this policy;
      e.) The requester has not complied with city policies regarding access to public records; or
      f.) The requester refuses to pay applicable fees.

If the request falls under any of the above exceptions, the Open Records Officer will send written notice to the requester within five (5) business days notifying them that the request for access is being reviewed and requires the thirty (30) day extension along with the extension ending date. The response shall include the exception(s) applicable.

If the city's response is a denial or partial denial of a written request for access, whether in whole or in part, a written response will be issued and will include:

     a.) A description of the record requested.
     b.) The specific reason(s) for the denial, including a citation of supporting legal authority.
     c.) The typed or printed name, title, business address, business telephone number and signature of the Open Records Officer
          on whose authority the denial is issued.
     d.) Date of the response.
     e.) The procedure to appeal the denial of access. It is not the intent of this policy to make a document a public record that is
          not a public record by law.

Appeals shall be sent to the below addresses:
[Submit two (2) copies]

Office of Open Records
Commonwealth Keystone Building
400 North Street 4th Floor
Harrisburg PA 17120-0225
Fax 717 425-5343
[as a Word or PDF attachment] [Submit one (1) copy]
Open Records Officer
Office of City Clerk
245 West Fourth Street
Williamsport PA 17701
Fax 570 327-7505

You must include in your appeal the information as stated below:
     a) Your full name, address, telephone and fax number; and
     b) A concise statement of relevant facts including:
          i) The name, title, address, telephone and fax numbers, if known, of the city and any city official alleged to have denied the requester a right conferred by the RTKL;
          ii) A description of the records requested;
          iii) The date of the Right-to-Know request;
          iv) The date of any response or date the response was deemed denied;
          v) A statement of the grounds upon which the requester asserts that the record is a public record;
          vi) A statement addressing any grounds stated by the city delaying or denying the request, including any unusual circumstances or emergency situations that may have contributed to the delay;
          vii) A copy of any pertinent correspondence or other documents; and
          viii) A statement that all material provided by the city has been submitted with the appeal.

The following fee schedule is in accordance with the fees as prescribed by the State Office of Open Records. Section 1307 of the Right-To-Know law requires the State Office of Open Records to establish a fee structure for Local Agencies.

$0.25 per copy
A "photocopy" is either a single-sided copy or one side of a double-sided black-and-white copy of a standard 8.5" x 11" page.
Certification of a Record:
$1.00 per record
Certification is per record, not per page and does not include notarization fees.
Specialized documents:
Actual Cost
Including but not limited to: Blue prints, color copies, GIS data and non-standard sized documents.
Facsimile/Microfiche/ Other Media: 
Actual Cost
Includes fax, microfilm, archived charges, etc.
Redaction Fee: No redaction fees shall be imposed.
Conversion to Paper:
$0.25 per copy
If a record is only maintained electronically or in other non-paper media, duplication fees shall be limited to the lesser of the fee for duplication on paper or the fee for duplication in the original media unless the requester specifically requests the record to be duplicated in the more expensive medium.
Postage Fees:
Actual cost
Fees for postage will be the actual cost of mailing as requested by the requester.
Prepayment: Prior to granting a request for access, the city may require a requester to prepay an estimate of the fees authorized if the fees required to fulfill the request are expected to exceed $100.
Waiver of Fees: The city may waive the fees for duplication of a public record, including but not limited to when the requester duplicates the public record or it is deemed in the public's best interest to do so.

A copy of this policy shall be conspicuously posted at the following city agency locations: City Hall Council Chambers, City Hall First Floor Bulletin Board, the Office of City Clerk and the City Internet Website.
(Ord. 5965 - 2. Appv 9-2-2004; Ord. 6013 -3. Appv 12-8-2005)