The redaction of information, spurred by the Open Public Records Act (OPRA), has become very time consuming for township employees, particularly with video and body camera footage requests, Township Administrator/Municipal Clerk William Senande told the Township of West Milford at a recent workshop session. As a result of the earlier discussion, the council on May 4 introduced an ordinance to amend some charges, adding a new section to the Township Code Chapter 135 “Fees and Special Service Charges.” The ordinance will have a public hearing on June 8 and then be considered for adoption by the council. It can be found in entirety at westmilford.org under the May 4 meeting documents.
During his discussion with the council, Senande explained that reviewing the material takes a lot of employee time and takes people away from their duties. He said revising the charges will help recoup some of the cost. Attorney Dawn Sullivan explained that a blanked statement could not be applied because the fee for 100 pages of minutes is not the same as a request for100 pages of something that would be redacted.
The ordinance notes that OPRA’s general purpose is making government records more available to the public than in the past. In certain instances, the may charge a different rate for the production of voluminous records, archived records, or records in outdated formats maintained by the municipality, or other special circumstances which could incur addition costs to the township.
The municipal clerk oversees records and all OPRA requests must be made directly to his office.
For ordinary routine requests, thw town charges 75 cents per page for one to 10 pages. For 11 to 20 pages, the charge is 50 cents per page. For requests of 20 pages or more it drops to 25 cents per page.
When there are special circumstances, with duplication or other work beyond the capacity of municipal in-house sources, other charges may be imposed. The actual cost of duplication or reproduction, plus a special charge of $32 per hour or actual direct cost of labor, shall be imposed for each hour of extraordinary time to be utilized to respond to the request.
Other details can be found by reading the proposed ordinance amendment available on the town website.