Acknowledgement of Request
This email is sent for two purposes. First, it is to acknowledge the receipt of your request. Second, it is to clarify for you the City policies in regards to FOAA requests.
The City does not and has not provided any FOAA request to any party free of charge if the work exceeds the 1 hour required under the law. Your request will require more than 1 hour. We will begin the process of giving you a reasonable estimate of what we expect for staff time to meet your requirement. You will be required to pay the required amount to the City as a deposit based on that estimate. Upon receipt of those funds, the work will begin. Once completed, if the work took less time the City will refund the difference. If the work exceeded the estimate, you will be required to pay the balance prior to us releasing the information.
The City strictly complies with the law in regards to documents. Specifically, the City will provide to you the documents we have. The community does not have a requirement to create new documents or to convert any information into a new format or different document than it has. It appears on surface that some of your request may include this requirement. In those cases, the City, consistent with policy, will be denying those items. You will be so notified.
The City by policy, response to all FOIA via our website. When any FOAA is processed, the request and response is provided to the entire public. Your two request will be handled the same way. You can review https://www.biddefordmaine.org/2374/Freedom-of-Access-Request-Documents to see examples.
While I am not an expert, it is my understanding that FOAA requests have further restrictions when those requests are being used to become effectively defacto discovery requests for matters in litigation. This request (as well as the previous) have the appearance to raise these concerns. As such, we have referred both requests to our attorney for guidance. His time in this matter will count towards the time it takes to respond to your requests. Given his review time line, the City will not be able to provide the information you have requested within the five days as required. I expect the City to be able to provide to an update to your requests no later than end of day, August 18.
Please feel to respond with any questions you might have.
James A. Bennett, ICMA-CM
Please note the change in email address to James.Bennett@biddefordmaine.org
Request for Clarification
Good afternoon Mr. Cronkite,
This email is to seek clarification on your request. It is my understanding that you are seeking any and all documents and correspondence associated with the Saco Lowell building, including but not limited to emails and letters from the specific parties outlined in the third point of your request. Is this correct?
If you would like to proceed with your request as I interpreted above, I will work with staff to provide an estimate of the amount of time that will be needed to fulfill your request. This request is likely to require more than one hour of work. As Mr. Bennett has previously explained in his acknowledgement of your request, it is the City’s policy to charge a fee of $15 per hour for work that requires more than one hour of staff time. We will require payment prior to processing your request.
Please note that if there is a specific document you are seeking, or if you are otherwise able to narrow your request, it may limit potential fees associated with this request.
City of Biddeford
Good afternoon Mr. Cronkite,
This email is to acknowledge your amended FOAA request dated August 9, 2021. I have a few more clarifying questions for you as I begin to work with staff to get an estimate of the amount of time it will take to fulfill your request.
- Do you have a specific time frame for this request? The City maintains physical files in its offices and archived physical files for older information. A search of the archived records will require more effort and time. A specific time frame will assist in providing a reasonable estimate for the search.
- When searching our email records, the City will conduct a search of names and key words in order to locate the records that you are requesting. If there are specific individuals or entities that you would like included in our search beyond those who are stated in your request (i.e. the names of any of the representatives indicated in your list), we will need those to be outlined explicitly.
Once I receive your reply I will prepare an estimate of the time involved to complete the records search and an associated cost. If based on any clarifications the estimate exceeds $100, we will request that you provide a check for the estimated amount in order to initiate the records search. Once we have completed the work, if the work is less than the estimate, we will refund the balance. If the actual hours exceed the estimate the balance due would have to paid prior to releasing the information.