Policy for Requests for Public Records Under the Freedom of Information Act
The City of Greenwood (the “City”) wishes to comply with both the letter and the spirit of the Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA "), as codified at §§ 30-4-10 et seq. of the Code of Laws of South Carolina 1976, as amended, for the processing of requests for access to public records. The City also wishes to make fulfill requests as efficiently and cost effectively as possible. This Policy is applicable to all departments under the supervision of the City Manager, and to any board or commission whose members are appointed by the City of Greenwood Council.
All requests for public documents pursuant to FOIA, except for those described below, should be made in writing and submitted either: in person at the Municipal Building, Front Desk, 520 Monument Street, or by mail to City of Greenwood, Attn: FOIA Officer, PO Box 40, Greenwood, SC 29648-0040 or electronically at firstname.lastname@example.org or by fax at 864-942-8469. Ideally, requests shall be made using the Freedom of Information Act Request Form (the "Request Form ") provided by the City and made available to the public, a copy of which is attached hereto. Requests made by letter or in some other written form shall contain substantially the same information provided for on the Request Form. To ensure the most accurate and prompt response, requests should be as detailed, specific, and descriptive as possible.
Requests to inspect the following public records need not be in writing, provided the requestor appears at the appropriate City office in person and within normal City business hours:
- Minutes of all public meetings of the City for the preceding (6) six months;
- Reports identified in SC Code Section 30-4-50 (A)(8) from the preceding fourteen (14) day period before the current day; and
- Documents identifying persons confined in any jail, detention center, or prison for the preceding (3) three months; and
- Documents produced by the City or its agent that were distributed to or reviewed by a member of the public body during a public meeting for the preceding (6) six months.
The City’s FOIA Officer is designated as the staff member to be responsible for and familiar with any FOIA request. Where any City employee or Council member receives any written request for public records, the request should be stamped with the date of receipt and immediately delivered to the FOIA Officer. Routine FOIA requests may be handled directly by the FOIA Officer. The FOIA Officer is authorized to and shall consult with the City Attorney on non-routine FOIA requests and on any questions of law involving FOIA. Where an exemption, restriction or limitation to FOIA possibly exists, the FOIA Officer should consult with the City Attorney to determine if an exemption, restriction or limitation applies and whether the City should decline to disclose the records based upon the exemption, restriction or limitation. However, the presumption in evaluating FOIA requests should be in favor of disclosing the requested records.
The FOIA Officer must respond to all FOIA requests within the time frames outlined below:
- Documents less than 24 months old: 10 business days
- Documents more than 24 months old: 20 business days
It shall be the policy of the City to respond to FOIA requests as quickly as possible. Where possible, the response to the request should include the requested records. Otherwise, the response should either inform the requestor that the requested records will be made available, along with the means of obtaining them and any additional costs that will be charged for making the records available, or it should inform the requestor that the requested records fall under an exemption to FOIA and will not be disclosed. The initial response shall constitute the final determination of the City as to whether records are available and subject in whole to an exemption under FOIA, but will not constitute a final opinion as to whether portions of the requested documents are subject to redaction under a FOIA exemption.
For all granted requests, the City shall furnish the records within the time frames outlined below, as measured from the date of initial or response or, where applicable, the payment of a 25% deposit.
- Documents less than 24 months old 30 calendar days
- Documents more than 24 months old 35 calendar days
The response and production deadlines may be extended by written mutual consent, and the requesting party may not unreasonably withhold such consent. The City shall not create new records, nor summarize existing records. Requested records shall be released in the format most convenient to the City. The City may, in its discretion, create electronic records where they do not otherwise exist.
The City adopts as a part of this Policy any and all exemptions, restrictions or limitations contained within FOIA, as FOIA may be amended from time to time, along with any other exemptions, restrictions or limitations that may be provided for now or in the future under South Carolina or federal law. Where an exemption, restriction or limitation applies, the FOIA Officer, based upon consultation with the City Attorney, should decide whether to deny disclosure based upon the application of the available exemption, restriction, or limitation. Where records contain certain information exempt from disclosure, but which otherwise fall outside of an exemption, restriction or limitation, the exempted information shall be redacted and requested records shall otherwise be disclosed.
The City may request for a hearing before the Circuit Court of Greenwood County to seek relief from unduly burdensome, overly broad, vague, repetitive, or otherwise improper requests, or where it receives a request but is unable to make a good faith determination as to whether the information is exempt from disclosure.
The Council, pursuant to Section 304-30 of FOIA, has established the following fees:
- $0.15 per copied page for all copies
- Prorated Hourly Rate for lowest cost employee for any research or programming that requires more than 15 minutes of staff time
In general, costs for staff time necessary to respond to a FOIA request shall not exceed the prorated hourly salary of the lowest cost employee of the City who, in the opinion of the FOIA Officer, has the training necessary to fulfill the request. Costs shall not be charged for time spent examining records to determine whether they may be disclosed. Copy charges do not apply to electronic copies; however, the City may charge a fee for cost of staff time to transfer the document to electronic format and the actual cost to the City for electronic media. Where it is anticipated that the staff time necessary to comply with a request may exceed $50 (fifty dollars), the requestor may be required to pay a deposit of one quarter of the estimated costs of complying with the request before staff will begin searching for or making copies of the requested records. Requesting party shall pay the full amount due prior to delivery of records.
Knowingly obtaining or using personal information obtained from the City for commercial solicitation is strictly prohibited, see SC Code Section 30-2-50. The City shall take reasonable measures to ensure that no person or private entity obtains or distributes personal information obtained from a public record for commercial solicitation, SC Code Section 30-2-50 (C).