Commission to look at request policy

Jan. 06, 2013 @ 08:16 AM

RUTHERFORDTON — Due to the recent amount of requests made by members of the Rutherford County Commission, county staff will propose changes in county policy regarding information requests.

Rutherford County Manager Carl Classen said that commissioners will look at proposed changes during its regular meeting Monday night.

Over the last several months, Commissioner Bo Richard has made several information requests, ranging from any and all communications regarding the county to communications including information of Foothills Connect.

One of those requests was estimated to cost the county close to $750,000 to implement, which included the cost of staff time and establishing a centralized computer and location where the requests could be viewed.

That information request was denied by the Commission and prompted a decision to have all information requests from commissioners come before the entire board.

Now, county staff have continued to augment policy and, Classen said the new proposals will make requests more "workable for commissioners and staff."

"We want to come up with a process that works for the commissioners that treats the commissioners and their requests in accordance with state law," Classen said.

Amendments to the policy include charging commissioners the applicable copying and data processing fees for information requests. Those fees are currently charged to members of the general public who make information requests. Classen said that the Commission can elect to waive those fees, if it chooses.

Currently, the information policy includes that, if one commissioner makes an information request, all five commissioners receive the information. This will be added, in writing, to the policy.

"When a commissioner makes a request, we give that information to all of them because we treat them all equally," Classen said.

In addition, if there is a request made by a commissioner or member of the general public that will "substantially alter" the workload of county staff, the matter can be referred to the Commission.

The new augmentation also includes allowing Classen to provide copies of records or data to commissioners "in the course of assisting them in the performance of their duties."

"Both an individual and a commissioner make a request, we want to make sure that they are treated in the same way," Classen said.

Commissioners will have a 5 p.m. executive session prior to the start of the regular meeting at 6 p.m. Monday.