CHARTER TOWNSHIP OF LYON
FOIA PROCEDURES AND GUIDELINES
Click here for link to FOIA Procedures and Guidelines document
Preamble: Statement of Principles
It is the policy of the Charter Township of Lyon that all persons, except those incarcerated, consistent with the Michigan Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), are entitled to full and complete information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts of those who represent them as public officials and employees. The people shall be informed so that they fully participate in the democratic process.
The Township’s policy with respect to FOIA requests is to comply with State law in all respects and to respond to FOIA requests in a consistent, fair, and even-handed manner regardless of who makes such a request.
The Township acknowledges that it has a legal obligation to disclose all nonexempt public records in its possession pursuant to a FOIA request. The Township acknowledges that sometimes it is necessary to invoke the exemptions identified under FOIA in order to ensure the effective operation of government and to protect the privacy of individuals. The Township will protect the public's interest in disclosure, while balancing the requirement to withhold or redact portions of certain records. The Township’s policy is to disclose public records consistent with and in compliance with State law.
The Township Board has established the following written Procedures and Guidelines to implement the FOIA and has created a written Public Summary of the specific Procedures and Guidelines relevant to the general public regarding how to submit written requests to the public body and explaining how to understand a public body's written responses, deposit requirements, fee calculations, and avenues for challenge and appeal. The written Public Summary has been written in a manner so as to be easily understood by the general public.
Section 1: General Policies
The Township Board, acting pursuant to the authority at MCL 15.236, designates the Township Clerk as the FOIA Coordinator. He or she is authorized to designate other Township staff to act on his or her behalf to accept and process written requests for the Township’s public records and approve denials.
If a request for a public record is received by fax or email, the request is deemed to have been received on the following business day. If a request is sent by email and delivered to a Township spam or junkmail folder, the request is not deemed received until one day after the FOIA Coordinator first becomes aware of the request. The FOIA Coordinator shall note in the FOIA log both the date the request was delivered to the spam or junk-mail folder and the date the FOIA Coordinator became aware of the request.
The FOIA Coordinator shall review Township spam and junk-mail folders on a regular basis, which shall be no less than once a month. The FOIA Coordinator shall work with Township Information Technology staff to develop administrative rules for handling spam and junk-mail so as to protect Township systems from computer attacks which may be imbedded in an electronic FOIA request.
The FOIA Coordinator may, in his or her discretion, implement administrative rules, consistent with State law and these Procedures and Guidelines to administer the acceptance and processing of FOIA requests.
The Township is not obligated to create a new public record or make a compilation or summary of information which does not already exist. Neither the FOIA Coordinator nor other Township staff is obligated to provide answers to questions contained in requests for public records or regarding the content of the records themselves.
The FOIA Coordinator shall keep a copy of all written requests for public records received by the Township on file for a period of at least one year.
The Township will make this Procedures and Guidelines document and the written Public Summary publicly available without charge. If it does not, the Township cannot require deposits or charge fees otherwise permitted under the FOIA until it is in compliance.
A copy of this Procedures and Guidelines document and the Township’s written Public Summary must be publicly available by providing free copies both in the Township's response to a written request and upon request by visitors at the Township's office. This Procedures and Guidelines document and the Township’s Written Public Summary will be maintained on the Township’s website at: www.lyontwp.org, so a link to those documents will be provided in lieu of providing paper copies of those documents.
No specific form to submit a request for a public record is required. However the FOIA Coordinator may make available a FOIA Request Form for use by the public.
Requests to inspect or obtain copies of public records prepared, owned, used, possessed or retained by the Township may be submitted on the Township’s FOIA Request Form, in any other form of writing (letter, fax, email, etc.), or by verbal request.
Verbal requests for records may be documented by the Township on the Township’s FOIA Request Form.
If a person makes a verbal, non-written request for information believed to be available on the Township’s website, where practicable and to the best ability of the employee receiving the request, shall be informed of the pertinent website address.
A request must sufficiently describe a public record so as to enable Township personnel to identify and find the requested public record.
Written requests for public records may be submitted in person or by mail to any Township office. Requests may also be submitted electronically by fax and email. Upon their receipt, requests for public records shall be promptly forwarded to the FOIA Coordinator for processing.
A person may request that public records be provided on non-paper physical media, emailed or other otherwise provided to him or her in digital form in lieu of paper copies. The Township will comply with the request only if it possesses the necessary technological capability to provide records in the requested non-paper physical media format.
A person may subscribe to future issues of public records that are created, issued or disseminated by the Township on a regular basis. A subscription is valid for up to six (6) months and may be renewed by the subscriber.
A person serving a sentence of imprisonment in a local, state or federal correctional facility is not entitled to submit a request for a public record. The FOIA Coordinator will deny all such requests.
Section 3: Processing a Request
Unless otherwise agreed to in writing by the person making the request, the Township will issue a response within five (5) business days of receipt of a FOIA request. If a request is received by fax, email or other electronic transmission, the request is deemed to have been received on the following business day.
The Township will respond to a request in one of the following ways:
- Grant the request.
- Issue a written notice denying the request.
- Grant the request in part and issue a written notice denying in part the request.
- Issue a notice indicating that due to the nature of the request the Township needs an additional ten (10) business days to respond for a total of no more than fifteen (15) business days. Only one such extension is permitted.
- Issue a written notice indicating that the public record requested is available at no charge on the Township’s website.
When a request is granted:
If the request is granted, or granted in part, the FOIA Coordinator will require that payment be made in full for the allowable fees associated with responding to the request before the public record is made available.
The FOIA Coordinator shall provide a detailed itemization of the allowable costs incurred to process the request to the person making the request.
A copy of these Procedures and Guidelines and the Written Public Summary will be provided to the requestor free of charge with the response to a written request for public records, provided however, that because these Procedures and Guidelines, and the Written Public Summary are maintained on the Township’s website at: www.lyontwp.org, a link to the Procedures and Guidelines and the Written Public Summary will be provided in lieu of providing paper copies of those documents.
If the cost of processing a FOIA request is Fifty ($50.00) Dollars or less, the requester will be notified of the amount due and where the documents can be obtained.
If the cost of processing a FOIA request is expected to exceed $50.00 based on a good-faith calculation, or if the requestor has not paid in full for a previously granted request, the Township will require a goodfaith deposit pursuant to Section 4 of this policy before processing the request.
In making the request for a good-faith deposit the FOIA Coordinator shall provide the requestor with a detailed itemization of the allowable costs estimated to be incurred by the Township to process the request and also provide a best efforts estimate of a time frame it will take the Township to provide the records to the requestor. The best efforts estimate shall be non-binding on the Township, but will be made in good faith and will strive to be reasonably accurate, given the nature of the request in the particular instance, so as to provide the requested records in a manner based on the public policy expressed by Section 1 of the FOIA.
When a request is denied or denied in part:
If the request is denied or denied in part, the FOIA Coordinator will issue a Notice of Denial which shall provide in the applicable circumstance:
- An explanation as to why a requested public record is exempt from disclosure; or
- A certificate that the requested record does not exist under the name or description provided by the requestor, or another name reasonably known by the Township; or
- An explanation or description of the public record or information within a public record that is separated or deleted from the public record; and
- An explanation of the person’s right to submit an appeal of the denial to either the office of the Township Supervisor or seek judicial review in the Oakland County Circuit Court;
- An explanation of the right to receive attorneys’ fees, costs, and disbursements as well actual or compensatory damages, and punitive damages of One Thousand ($1,000.00) Dollars, should they prevail in Circuit Court.
- The Notice of Denial shall be signed by the FOIA Coordinator.
Requests to inspect public records:
The Township shall provide reasonable facilities and opportunities for persons to examine and inspect public records during normal business hours. The FOIA Coordinator is authorized to promulgate rules regulating the manner in which records may be viewed so as to protect Township records from loss, alteration, mutilation or destruction and to prevent excessive interference with normal Township operations.
Requests for certified copies:
The FOIA Coordinator shall, upon written request, furnish a certified copy of a public record at no additional cost to the person requesting the public record.
If the fee estimate is expected to exceed $50.00 based on a good-faith calculation, the requestor will be asked to provide a deposit not exceeding one-half (1/2) of the total estimated fee. If a request for public records is from a person who has not paid the Township in full for copies of public records made in fulfillment of a previously granted written request, the FOIA Coordinator will require a deposit of one hundred (100%) percent of the estimated processing fee before beginning to search for a public record for any subsequent written request by that person when all of the following conditions exist:
- The final fee for the prior written request is not more than one hundred five (105%) percent of the estimated fee;
- The public records made available contained the information sought in the prior written request and remain in the Township's possession;
- The public records were made available to the individual, subject to payment, within the time frame estimated by the Township to provide the records;
- Ninety (90) days have passed since the FOIA Coordinator notified the individual in writing that the public records were available for pickup or mailing;
- The individual is unable to show proof of prior payment to the Township; and
The FOIA Coordinator will not require an increased estimated fee deposit if any of the following apply:
- The person making the request is able to show proof of prior payment in full to the Township;
- The Township is subsequently paid in full for the applicable prior written request; or
- Three hundred sixty five (365) days have passed since the person made the request for which full payment was not remitted to the Township.
A fee may be charged for the labor cost of copying/duplication.
A fee will not be charged for the labor cost of search, examination, review and the deletion and separation of exempt from nonexempt information unless failure to charge a fee would result in unreasonably high costs to the Township because of the nature of the request in the particular instance, and the Township specifically identifies the nature of the unreasonably high costs.
Costs for the search, examination review, and deletion and separation of exempt from non-exempt information are “unreasonably high” when they are excessive and beyond the normal or usual amount for those services (Attorney General Opinion 7083 of 2001) compared to the costs of the township’s usual FOIA requests, not compared to the township’s operating budget. (Bloch v. Davison Community Schools, Michigan Court of Appeals, Unpublished, April 26, 2011).
The following factors shall be used to determine an unreasonably high cost to the Township:
- Volume of the public record requested
- Amount of time spent to search for, examine, review and separate exempt from non-exempt information in the record requested.
- Whether the public records are from more than one Township department or whether various Township offices are necessary to respond to the request.
- The available staffing to respond to the request.
- Any other similar factors identified by the FOIA Coordinator in responding to the particular request.
The Michigan FOIA statute permits the Township to charge for the following costs associated with processing a request:
- Labor costs associated with copying or duplication, which includes making paper copies, making digital copies, or transferring digital public records to non-paper physical media or through the Internet.
- Labor costs associated with searching for, locating and examining a requested public record, when failure to charge a fee will result in unreasonably high costs to the Township.
- Labor costs associated with a review of a record to separate and delete information exempt from disclosure, when failure to charge a fee will result in unreasonably high costs to the Township.
- The cost of copying or duplication, not including labor, of paper copies of public records. This may include the cost for copies of records already on the township’s website if you ask for the Township to make copies.
- The cost of computer discs, computer tapes or other digital or similar media when the requester asks for records in non-paper physical media. This may include the cost for copies of records already on the township’s website if you ask for the Township to make copies.
- The cost to mail or send a public record to a requestor.