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Understanding open public records requests
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Understanding open public records requests

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The Nebraska Legislature recently passed LB363 amending the Nebraska Statutes relating to public records. With this passage the Beatrice City Council adopted a Resolution at their August 5th regular meeting to update the City’s public records policy establishing reasonable operating procedures and fees for accessing public records.

Examples of public records requests might include copies of minutes, ordinances and resolutions, agreements, contracts, city code sections, maps, accident reports, and genealogy information. It should be noted that not all records in the City are public records. Some records such as ambulance reports have additional HIPPA regulations that must be followed before the report can be obtained.

Your request shall be in writing, describe the document requested, and be delivered to the Office of the City Clerk, or related department. The City then has four business days to respond, excluding the day the request is received and days during which the offices are closed.

For example if the City Clerk received your request on Monday, the response would be due on the following Friday, if received on a Wednesday, the response in most cases would be on the following Tuesday.

Upon receiving your request, City personnel will review the request and provide a written response which will include an estimate of the expected cost. You will then have ten business days to notify the City to proceed with fulfilling your request, and, if the expected cost exceeds $50.00, to prepay the fees. If you do not respond then the City will not fulfill your request.

The cost of copies is 25 cents per page for photocopies and computer generated materials. If you request that the pages be sent by fax the charge is $1 per page.

If the record cannot be reproduced by the City’s photocopier, the fee charged will be based upon the actual cost of reproduction. In cases where it takes some time to search, identify and produce the records requested, the City shall not charge for the first four hours of this time; after four hours, the production fee will be based upon the actual cost of the employee’s hourly rate plus 28 percent for benefits.

Once your request is available, we will notify you and you may come into the office, pay the fees, and pick up your request.

Also, there are records available on the City’s website at no cost to you. Simply go to www.beatrice.ne.gov and click on Elected Officials/City Council to find agendas and minutes; for Board of Public Works minutes click on BPW/Utilities and Board; under City Offices and Clerk you will find the City’s Annual Financial Report and a link to the Beatrice City Code of Ordinances; Police and Fire Annual Reports are available under their respective departments; and under Engineering you will find several maps, including zoning and ward maps, and snow routes.

Should you have any questions or need assistance please don’t hesitate to contact my office at 400 Ella Street, or call 402-228-5200, and we will be happy to serve you!

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