KEYSER, W.Va. -- Keyser City Council is considering a policy that would charge what Mayor Randy Amtower says is a fair fee for public records requests.
The Mineral Daily News-Tribune reports that the final vote on the ordinance is set for Wednesday. It proposes that the first five pages of any document request be provided free. After that, citizens would be charged 10 cents per page.
The goal is to prevent the kind of dispute that arose in May, when Keyser Citizens for Fiscal Accountability was billed $300 for a detailed copy of the 2009 budget. The group found its first copy lacking the detail typical of municipal spending plans.
The group has been challenging the city's spending practices, first demanding full accounting of the cost of operating the water-testing lab, then pressing for information on cellphone bills and the cost of operating the city pool.
The bill for the requests included $195 for an hour of the city attorney's time, $35 for one hour of the city administrator's time and $70 for two hours of the clerk's time.
The new policy includes a mechanism that lets the city charge for time-consuming requests.
If the information can be collected within 30 minutes, it's free. After that, the search costs $25 per hour. The hourly rate can be broken down into 10-minute increments.
"We felt this was the best way to make it fair for everyone," Amtower said.