Costs to county for FOI requests.

Costs to county for FOI requests.

Posted in the Ludington Forum

Equa Lindsey

Rockford, MI

#1 Dec 21, 2010
Suppose a person submits several FOI requests to the local city government and asks for details of city decisions. That is a fair FOI request depending upon the clarity of the request. Does it ask for a specific document or does it ask for any and all documents related to a person or issue? A specific document is usually easy to locate because the person doing the work of finding it has all the information at hand in the request. A vague request is one where it is not clear due to nobody fully understanding what and how many different documents might be in the myriad of files.
In either situation, there will always be some cost to the city for the employees to take time from their already busy schedule to look up that information. The city FOIA coordinator finally determines a fair fee based upon the legal terms of the FOIA and the actual time it took. The person who submitted the FOI requests thinks the fee is unreasonable and he then conspires with 3 or 4 of his family or friends to submit identical requests so that the total fee is spread out among all of these people. Then the person who submitted the original FOI agrees to the pro-rated fee and his 3 or 4 family members or friends decide to decline the information they requested. These extra 3 or 4 people then opt out of paying their share of the pro-rated fee. This devious strategy effectively costs the city the difference between the actual cost and what the original requester finally paid. The end result is the city loses between 75% to 80% of the actual cost. The taxpayer is stuck with difference.

Do you think it is fair for people to conspire against the city like that in order to get information at a fee less than the actual cost to the taxpayers?
Tomas Moto

Grant, MI

#2 Mar 19, 2011
No way is it fair. There are rules to follow and it hurts everybody when a group of people conspire to cheat the taxpayer.

Can you take 4 people to a buffet style restrurant all you can eat for one price and expect to buy only one but have 4 people eat? That is what those people tried to do.
One person requested the information and a fair fee was established. Getting four people to do the same request to get the information for 1/4 the price is the same thing. All four people should be required to pay.

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