Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ketchum works to furnish records request

Mountain Express seeks waiver of $1,000 fee

Express Staff Writer

The city of Ketchum agreed Monday evening to work with Idaho Mountain Express staff to furnish a records request made by the newspaper on Aug. 6. It was unclear, however, whether or to what extent the city would waive the $1,000 fee it proposed to charge for the labor involved in providing the records.

The topic was part of the Ketchum City Council's discussion agenda at its regular Monday meeting.

The Express is seeking e-mails sent and received among members of the City Council and mayor on the topic of the Warm Springs Ranch Resort hotel proposal in the 12 months preceding the records request.

The city promptly responded Aug. 7 and said it could provide the e-mails by Aug. 20. However, wrote City Clerk Sandy Cady, pursuant to a 2006 city resolution regarding records requests, the city estimated the cost of providing the records to be $1,000.

Idaho Mountain Express Editor Shea Andersen wrote a letter on Aug. 29 seeking to have the $1,000 fee waived.

Idaho Code provides that a public agency must waive fees when the requester demonstrates "that the public's interest or the public's understanding of the operations or activities of government or its records would suffer by the assessment or collection of any fee."

In a dialogue between Andersen and the City Council on Monday, Councilman Larry Helzel said his understanding of that provision was that if an applicant could prove economic hardship, then the fee would be waived.

"I'm not sure that the newspaper could demonstrate hardship," he said.

Mayor Randy Hall said the point of the fee is so taxpayers don't have to pay for public records requests.

Nevertheless, the city agreed to have its computer tech talk with the newspaper's computer tech in a good-faith next step in providing the records.

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