Public Records Policy

DISTRICT BOARD OF HEALTH MAHONING COUNTY

PUBLIC RECORDS POLICY

ADOPTED March 27, 2008

 

Introduction

This policy has been developed in compliance with House Bill 9, effective September 29, 2007.

 

Section 1.        Public records

The District Board of Health, in accordance with the Ohio Revised Code, defines records as including the following: any document – paper, electronic (including, but not limited to, e-mail), or other format – that is created or received by, or comes under the jurisdiction of a public office that documents the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities of the office.  All records of the District Board of Health are public unless they are specifically exempt from disclosure under the Ohio Revised Code.

Section 1.1

It is the policy of the District Board of Health that, as required by Ohio law, records will be organized and maintained so that they are readily available for inspection and copying during regular business hours.

Section 1.2

Not all of the District Board of Health’s records are “public records.”  The Ohio Revised Code exempts certain records from disclosure.  These exemptions to the Public Records Act will be narrowly construed by this office in favor of disclosure.  This office may seek a legal review prior to determining whether an exemption applies.

Section 2.        Record requests

Each request for public records will be evaluated for a response using the following guidelines:

Section 2.1

Although no specific language is required to make a request, the requester will at least identify the records requested with sufficient clarity to allow the public office to identify, retrieve, and review the records. If it is not clear what records are being sought, the records custodian will contact the requester for clarification, and can assist the requestor in revising the request by informing the requestor of the manner in which the office keeps its records.

Section 2.2

The requester does not have to put a records request in writing, and does not have to provide his or her identity or the intended use of the requested public record.  However, this information may be requested when it would enhance the ability to comply with the request.

This office will permit the requester to choose to have the public record duplicated upon paper, upon the same medium which this office keeps it, or upon any other medium which this office determines that it can be reasonably duplicated as an integral part of the normal operations of this office.  But this office is not required to allow the requester to make the copies of the public record.

Section 2.3

Public records are to be available for inspection during regular business hours 8:00am to 4:30pm Monday through Friday, with the exception of published holidays. Public records will be made available for inspection promptly.

Copies of public records will be made available within a reasonable period of time depending on the volume of records requested; the proximity of the location where the records are stored; and the necessity for any legal review of the records requested.

Section 2.4

Each request will be evaluated for an estimated length of time required to gather the records. Routine requests for records will be satisfied immediately if feasible to do so. Routine requests include, but are not limited to, meeting minutes, budgets, salary information, forms and applications, personnel rosters, etc.

All requests for public records will either be satisfied immediately or be acknowledged in writing within three business days following the office’s receipt of the request. The acknowledgement letter will include the following: (1) the estimated number of business days it will take to satisfy the request and (2) the estimated cost if copies are requested.

Section 2.5

Denials of public records requested will include an explanation, including legal authority. If portions of a record are public and portions are exempt, the exempt portions will be redacted and the rest released. If there are redactions, each redaction will be accompanied by a supporting explanation, including citations to legal authority.

Section 3.        Costs for Public Records

Those seeking public records will be charged only the actual cost of making copies.

Section 3.1

The charge for paper copies is 5 cents per page.

Section 3.2

The charge for downloaded computer files to a compact disc is $1 per disc.

Section 3.3

There is no charge for documents e-mailed.

Section 3.4

Documents will be mailed if requested. The actual cost of the postage and mailing supplies will be assessed against the party making such request.  This office may require such a requestor to pay in advance the cost of postage or costs incurred for other supplies used in the mailing, delivery, or transmission.

Section 4.        E-mail

Documents in electronic mail format are records under the Ohio Revised Code when their content relates to the business of the office.

Section 4.1

Records in private e-mail accounts used to conduct public business are subject to disclosure.

Section 5.        Failure to respond to a public records request

The District Board of Health recognizes the legal and non-legal consequences of failing to properly respond to a public records request.

This public records policy shall remain in effect until such time that it is revised or rescinded in writing.