Freedom of Access Request Documents
March 21, 2018
Welcome to the City of Biddeford’s Freedom of Access Act (FOAA) page; often referred to as the ‘right to know’. You will find on this page information about FOAA, a suggested form in order to more efficiently handle your request as well as a link to all public FOAA responses since February of 2016.
You might find it uncommon that a community publicly posts all of the FOAA requests. It is uncommon because the law does not require a community to do so. However, the City made the decision to post all requests for the following reasons:
The City assumes that if one person requested the information it is likely that others might also be interested. Hence, a public posting allows that opportunity.
There is a financial savings by posting on the City website for both the person requesting the information as well as the City.
The City believes there is a benefit in providing factual responses to any questions or requests that are made.
There may be citizens that are interested in knowing what requests are coming in and who is making them.
Finally, there is staff time that is involved with each request. Under the law, the first hour of time to produce the documents is at no charge to the person making the request. It is safe to assume that for each request, there is a minimum of one to two hours of staff time spent preparing each response. In many cases, the City Attorney is also involved.
Until most recently, this process of posting the requests was met with few issues. However, recent requests have required the City to revisit the practice. Hence, the City will use its discretion in the posting process. The City will apply the following reasonable guidelines, the application of which is based on the above goals.
Unprofessional, vulgar or other inappropriate words in a request will not be included. Comments that are derogatory towards any person(s) will not be included.
The City will not include any editorial or other comments regarding the reason for the request. The City will edit and/or remove any additional information that is contained within the request so that the post is limited to the FOAA request.
The City will not post a FOAA request that is an attempt to make any confidential material public through the City’s practice of posting a FOAA request. The City has a legal duty to keep confidential information confidential. Any request that jeopardizes that legal requirement will not be posted.
Additionally, the City, at its sole discretion, may summarize or abbreviate the text of the request in order to improve the ability of site visitors to locate specific subject matter.
In the event that the text of a request is changed or modified in any fashion, the posting will include notation(*) that the request has been edited.
If you have any questions regarding the process, please feel free to contact my office.
James A. Bennett,