State Records Committee Appeal 04-11
BEFORE THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE OF THE STATE OF UTAH
MARK C. HAIK, Appellant vs.
TOWN OF ALTA, Appellee.
DECISION AND ORDERCase No. 04-11
By this appeal, Mark C. Haik seeks access to the meeting minutes of the Town of Alta Planning Commission and other records he maintains are in the Town of Alta's possession, as identified in records requests dated November 13, 2003, May 21, 2004, June 1, 2004 and June 17, 2004. The State Records Committee, having reviewed the materials submitted by the parties, and having heard oral argument and testimony on September 16, 2004, now issues the following Decision and Order.
STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR DECISION
1. The Government Records Access and Management Act ("GRAMA") specifies that "[a]ll records are public unless otherwise expressly provided by statute." Utah Code Ann. 63-2-201(2). "Every person has the right to inspect a public record free of charge, and the right to take a copy of a public record during normal working hours, subject to Sections 63-2-203 and 63-2-204." Utah Code Ann. 63-2-201(1). Records classified as "private, controlled or protected" or otherwise "restricted pursuant to court rule, another state statute, federal statute, or federal regulation . . ." are not public. Utah Code Ann. 63-2-201(3).
2. A person making a records request to a governmental entity must identify the record with "reasonable specificity." Utah Code Ann. 63-2-204(1). If a governmental entity is not able to respond to a request within ten days after receiving a reasonably specific request, it may notify the requester that because of one of several enumerated "extraordinary circumstances," it needs additional time to respond. See Utah Code Ann. 63-2-204(3)(iv). A governmental entity may delay approval or denial by an additional period of time when it "is currently processing a large number of records requests . . . ." Utah Code Ann. 63-2-204(4). The governmental entity must then "(i) disclose the records that it has located which the requester is entitled to inspect; (ii) provide the requester with an estimate of the amount of time it will take to finish the work required to respond to the request; and (iii) complete the work and disclose those records that the requester is entitled to inspect as soon as reasonably possible . . ." Utah Code Ann. 63-2-204(5) (emphasis added).
3. After considering the evidence, the Committee orders that the Town grant Mr. Haik access to all its public Planning Commission meeting minutes during normal working hours. Since the Town offices are not open on a regular basis, the Committee grants the Town's request to limit Mr. Haik's inspection of these public records to four (4) hours per week and that this inspection period be coordinated with the Town beforehand.
4. As to Mr. Haik's requests dated May 21, 2004, June 1, 2004, and June 17, 2004, the Committee orders that the Town respond in accordance with Utah Code Ann. 63-2-204. The Committee concludes that the Town is currently processing a large number of records requests, so its response period is governed by the provisions of Utah Code Ann. 63-2-204(4)(d) and (5)(c). Specifically, the Town must disclose the records it has located which Mr. Haik is entitled to inspect, provide Mr. Haik with an estimate of the amount of time it will take to finish the work required to respond to the request and complete the work and disclose those records Mr. Haik is entitled to inspect as soon as reasonably possible.
THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED THAT the appeal is granted in part and denied in part as set forth above.
RIGHT TO APPEAL
Either party may appeal this Decision and Order to the District Court. The petition for review must be filed no later than thirty (30) days after the date of this order. The petition for judicial review must be a complaint. The complaint and the appeals process are governed by the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure and by Utah Code Ann. 63-2-404. The court is required to make its decision de novo. In order to protect its rights on appeal, a party may wish to seek advice from an attorney.
Pursuant to Utah Code Ann. 63-2-403(14), the government entity herein shall comply with the order of the records committee and, if records are ordered to be produced, file:
(i) a notice of compliance with the records committee upon production of the records; or
(ii) a notice of intent to appeal.
If the government entity fails to file a notice of compliance or a notice of intent to appeal, the Records Committee may impose a civil penalty of up to $500 for each day of continuing noncompliance.
Entered this 21st day of September, 2004.
BY THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE
Patricia Smith-Mansfield, Chair
State Records Committee