The FOAA defines "public record" as "any written, printed or graphic matter or any mechanical or electronic data compilation from which information can be obtained, directly or after translation into a form susceptible of visual or aural comprehension, that is in the possession or custody of an agency or public official of this State or any of its political subdivisions, or is in the possession or custody of an association, the membership of which is composed exclusively of one or more of any of these entities, and has been received or prepared for use in connection with the transaction of public or governmental business or contains information relating to the transaction of public or governmental business". A number of exceptions are specified. (See the discussion of exemptions below.) 1 M.R.S. § 402(3)
To request access to City records, you should start by determining which City department is likely to maintain those records, contact that department, and make your request. There are no required forms that must be completed, and the request may be made either verbally or in writing. If you are unsure of whom to contact, have questions about records access, or are seeking a large number of documents or documents from more than one department, you may contact the City’s Freedom of Access Coordinator, Erika Benson, Executive Assistant to the City Manager at (207)443-8330.
No. There are no required forms.
No. The FOAA does not require that requests for public records be in writing. However, most governmental bodies and agencies ask individuals to submit requests in writing in order to maintain a record of when the request was received and what records were specifically requested.
In order for the governmental body, agency or official to promptly respond to your request, you should be as specific as possible when describing the records you are seeking. If a particular document is required, it should be identified precisely-preferably by author, date and title. However, a request does not have to be that specific. If you cannot identify a specific record, you should clearly explain the type of records you are seeking, from what timeframe and what subject the records should contain.
Yes. The City will acknowledge receipt of a request within a reasonable period of time.
Yes. The City may request clarification concerning which public record or public records are being requested.
Yes. The City must provide a good faith, nonbinding estimate of how long it will take to comply with the request. The agency or official shall make a good faith effort to fully respond within the estimated time.
The records must be made available "within a reasonable period of time" after the request was made. The City can schedule the time for your inspection, conversion and copying of the records during the regular business hours of the City, and at a time that will not delay or inconvenience the regular activities of the City.
No. The records that are responsive to a request must be made available "within a reasonable period of time" after the request was made. The City must respond in writing within 5 working days only if your request is denied in whole or in part.
A person may inspect or copy any public record in the office of the City during reasonable office hours. The City shall mail the copy upon request. The City may charge a reasonable fee to cover the cost of making the copies for you, as well as actual mailing costs.
The FOAA provides that certain categories of documents are not public records. Included among these are records that have been designated confidential by statute, documents subject to a recognized legal privilege such as the attorney-client privilege or the work-product privilege, records describing security plans or procedures designed to prevent acts of terrorism, medical records, juvenile records, and the personal contact information of public employees contained within records.
For a list of records or categories of records deemed by statute to be confidential or otherwise not a public record, see the Statutory Exceptions List. While this listing may not be totally complete, it contains the vast majority of exceptions to the FOAA.
No. A public officer or agency is not required to prepare reports, summaries, or compilations not in existence on the date of your request.
No. A public officer or agency is not required to explain or answer questions about public records. The FOAA only requires officials and agencies to make public records available for inspection and copying.
There is no initial fee for submitting a request, and the City cannot charge an individual to inspect records unless the public record cannot be inspected without being compiled or converted. However, the City can charge a reasonable fee for copying records. The City may also charge fees for the time spent searching for, retrieving, compiling, or redacting confidential information from the requested records.
Maine’s law authorizes the City to charge $15 per hour after the first hour of staff time per request. Where conversion of a record is necessary, the agency or official may also charge a fee to cover the actual cost of conversion. The City must prepare an estimate of the time and cost required to complete a request, and if the estimate is greater than $30, the City must notify the requester before proceeding. The City may request payment of the costs in advance if the estimated cost exceeds $100 or if the requester has previously failed to pay a fee.
No. The City is required to make available for inspection and copying, subject to any applicable exemptions, only those public records that exist on the date of the request. Persons seeking to inspect or obtain copies of public records on a continuing basis are required to make a new request for any additional records sought after the date of the original request.