Public Records Request Policy
It is the policy of the Village of Palos Park (the “Village”) to comply with the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, 5 ILCS 140/1 et seq. (the “Act” or “FOIA”), recognizing that all persons are entitled to full and complete information regarding the affairs of Village government and the official acts and policies of those who represent them as public officials and public employees, while, at the same time, protecting the legitimate privacy interest of persons and maintaining administrative efficiency. To achieve that objective, the Village, and its subsidiary bodies, such as, its boards, commissions and committees, will make available for inspection or copying, all public records, as defined in Section 140/2(c) of the Act (See Exhibit A attached hereto), which are not specifically exempted under Sections 7 and 7.5 of the Act (See Exhibits B and C attached hereto for a summary). The Act does not obligate the Village to maintain or prepare any public record not ordinarily maintained or prepared by the Village, or compel the Village to interpret or advise a requestor as to the meaning or significance of public records.
Procedure for Providing Public Record
A. Requests for Public Records
1. General: Except as otherwise provided in this Policy, requests for public records must be made in writing. Requestors may use the Village’s FOIA request form, which is attached hereto as Exhibit D and is available on the Village’s website. The Village will comply with written requests for public records within the time required by the Act. Working/business days are Monday through Friday, excepting recognized holidays.
2. Oral Requests: The release of public records based upon routine oral requests will be subject to the discretion of the Freedom of Information Officer. Examples of such routines oral requests include minutes of public meetings and copies of Village ordinances.
3. Submitting a Request: FOIA requests should be submitted to the designated Freedom of Information Officer at the following locations:
Village of Palos Park
8999 W. 123rd Street
Palos Park, Illinois 60464
Attn: Cathy Gabel Freedom of Information Officer or email / 708-671-3706
Village of Palos Park Police Department
8999 W. 123rd Street
Palos Park, Illinois 60464
Attn: Dolores Maldonado Freedom of Information Officer or email / 708-671-3770
4. The Request: Persons making requests for Village records must specify:
a. The requestor’s full name, address and telephone number.
b. The name or a brief description of the public record(s) requested, being as specific as possible.
c. Whether the request is for inspection of public records, copies of public records, or both.
d. The desired method of delivery, i.e., will call, mail, facsimile, etc. The Village will attempt to accommodate the desired method, depending upon the records requested.
e. Whether the request is for a commercial purpose.
In the event that the Village cannot comply with a request within the five (5) business day period, the Village will notify the requestor in writing that an additional five (5) business day period is necessary to comply with the request. Such notification will include the specific reason for the delay and the date by which the public records will be made available, or denial will be made. Such an extension may be for any of the reasons set forth in the Act, which are as follows:
1. The requested public records are stored in whole or in part at locations other than the office having charge of the requested public records;
2. The request requires the collection of a substantial number of specified public records;
3. The request is couched in categorical terms and requires an extensive search for the public records responsive to it;
4. The requested public records have not been located in the course of a routine search and additional efforts are being made to locate them;
5. The requested public records require examination and evaluation by personnel having the necessary competence and discretion to determine if they are exempt from disclosure under the Act or should be revealed only with appropriate deletions;
6. The request for public records cannot be complied with by the Village within the time limits prescribed above without unduly burdening or interfering with the operations of the Village; or
7. There is a need for consultation, which shall be conducted with all practicable speed, with another public body or among two or more components of a public body having a substantial interest in the determination or in the subject matter of the request.
The Act creates a presumption that all public records in the custody or possession of the Village are presumed to the open to inspection or copying. The Village is not required to provide copies of, or allow access to, any public records which are exempt from disclosure under the Act (See Exhibits B and C attached hereto) or are unduly burdensome, subject to certain requirements. Exemptions shall be considered as follows:
1. Exempt Public Records: The Village will not provide copies of, or allow access to, any public records which are exempt from disclosure under the Act.
2. Exempt Public Record with Non-Exempt Material: If a public record is not exempt from disclosure under the Act but contains material that is exempt, the Village shall delete the exempt material and make the public record available for inspection or copying.
3. Unduly Burdensome: Requests for all public records within a category shall be complied with unless compliance would be unduly burdensome for the Village, the request cannot be narrowed, and the burden on the Village outweighs the public interest in the information. Before invoking this exemption, the Village shall extend to the requestor an opportunity to confer with it in an attempt to reduce the request to manageable proportions. If the Village responds to a categorical request by stating that compliance would unduly burden its operation, and an attempt to reduce the request is unsuccessful, it shall do so in writing, specifying the reasons why it would be unduly burdensome and the extent to which compliance will so burden the operations of the Village. Such a response shall be treated as a denial of the request for public records. Repeated requests from the same person for the same public records that are unchanged or identical to public records previously provided or properly denied are unduly burdensome.
4. Burden of Proof: If the Village asserts that a public record is exempt from disclosure, it has the burden of proving, by clear and convincing evidence, that it is exempt.
Public records may be viewed at the Village Hall during normal business hours or at such time and place as the Village may determine. When a request is made to view public records, the requestor should be advised not to appear at the Village Hall assuming the requested records will be available, unless confirmed by a Village employee, authorized to coordinate such viewing.
E. Village Response
1. Freedom of Information Officer Designation: The Mayor, with the advice and consent of the Village Council, shall designate an employee(s) as the Freedom of Information Officer(s), and shall appoint such assistants to the Freedom of Information Officer, within each Village Department, as the Mayor, with the advice and consent of the Village Council, shall deem necessary and appropriate. Such designations shall be included in the short description of the village (See Exhibit E attached hereto)
2. Freedom of Information Officer Training: The Freedom of Information Officer(s), and his/her /their assistants, shall complete the training mandated by the Act within six (6) months of January 1, 2010. Persons assuming those positions thereafter shall complete the training within thirty (30) days of appointment/designation.
3. Public Records for Immediate Disclosure: The Freedom of Information Officer(s) shall develop a list of documents or categories of public records that the Village shall immediately disclose upon request. That list shall be made available for all Village Departments.
4. Response to Request: Unless requested public records are provided immediately, any Village employee or official receiving a request for public records under the Act must immediately forward that request to the Freedom of Information Officer(s), who shall ensure that the request is responded to in accordance with the Act and this Policy. All requests shall be responded to as follows:
a. Timing of Response: Requests will be responded to within the five (5) business day period or the five (5) additional business day period if conditions for an extension of time exist, subject to further extension based upon a written agreement. Commercial requests shall be responded to as provided in Section IV.E below.
b. Receipt of Request: Upon receipt of a request for a public record, the Freedom of Information Officer(s) shall:
(1) Note the date received
(2) Compute the day on which the period for response ends and note that date on the request
(3) Maintain an electronic or paper copy of a written request, including all documents submitted with the request, until the request has been complied with or denied; and
(4) Create a file for the retention of the original request, a copy of the response, a record of the written communications with the requestor, if any, and a copy of any other communications.
c. To Approve a Request: Complete the proper response in exhibit F attached hereto, indicating if public records are enclosed, payment due or the date, time and location for inspection, and send to the requestor, maintaining a copy of the completed form.
d. To Obtain an extension of Time to Respond to a Request: Complete the extension form, attached hereto as Exhibit G, indicating the reason for an extension and send to the requestor, maintaining a copy of the completed form.
e. To Deny a Request: Complete the proper response in Exhibit F attached hereto, citing the factual basis for any claimed exemption, and send to the requestor, maintaining a copy of the completed form.
f. To Deny a Request Based Upon Sections 7(1)(c) or 7(1)(f) of the Act: Complete the Denial of Request for Public Records Based on Section 7(1)(c) or 7(1)(f) of the Act form, attached hereto as Exhibit H, indicating the section relied upon for denial and the factual basis for the claimed exemption, and send to the requestor, maintain a copy; but also send a copy of the denial, along with a copy of the FOIA request, to the Public Access Counselor (see form letter attached hereto as Exhibit I).
g. To Deny a Request in Part: Complete the proper response in Exhibit F attached hereto, indicating the reason for denying a portion of the request and a detailed factual basis for such denial, and send to requestor along with the redacted public records.
h. To Address an Unduly Burdensome Request: Contact the requestor and advise that the request is unduly burdensome and request a conference to attempt to narrow the request to a manageable proportion.
Approval of Request for Public Records
Upon approval of a request for public records, the Village may either provide copies of the public records immediately, give notice that the public records shall be made available upon payment of reproduction and postage costs, if applicable, or give notice of the time and place for inspection of the public records.
Denial of Request for Public Records
A. Notice of Denial: When a request for public records is denied on the grounds that the records are exempt under the Act, the notice of denial shall specify the exemption authorizing the denial. When the Freedom of Information Officer(s) denies a request for public records, he/she shall notify the requestor in writing of that decision, the reasons for the denial, including a detailed factual basis for the application of any claimed exception under Sections 3(g), 7 or 7.5 of the Act, and the names and titles or positions of each person responsible for the denial. A notice of denial shall also inform the requestor of his/her right to review by the Public Access Counselor, including the Public Access Counselor’s address and phone number: 1-800-243-0618 or (217) 558-0486; Illinois Attorney General’s Office, 500 South Second Street, Springfield, Illinois 62701. The requestor shall also be notified of the right to seek judicial review pursuant to the Act.
B. Categorical Requests: Categorical requests creating an undue burden upon the Village shall be denied only after extending to the requestor an opportunity to confer in an attempt to reduce the request to manageable proportions in accordance with Section 3(g) of the act.
C. Denials Based upon Sections 7(1)(c) and 7(1)(f) of the Act: In the event that a request is denied based upon an exemption under Section 7(1)(c) of the Act, as personal information, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of privacy unless consented to in writing, or Section 7(1)(f) of the Act, as a preliminary draft, note, recommendation, memorandum or other record in which opinions are expressed, or policies or actions are formulated, the Freedom of Information Officer(s) shall, within the time required, provide written notice to the requestor and the Public Access Counselor of its intent to deny the request in whole or in part. The notice shall include: (i) a copy of the request for access to public records; (ii) the proposed response from the Village; and (iii) a detailed summary of the Village’s basis for asserting the exemption. If the Public Access Counselor determines that further inquiry is warranted, the time for response shall be tolled until the Public Access Counselor concludes the inquiry.D. Review by Public Access Counselor: Upon receipt of a request for review, the Public Access Counselor is authorized to determine whether further action is warranted. The Public Access Counselor may find a request for review to be unfounded, so advising the requestor and the Village. In other cases, the Public Access Counselor will forward the request for review to the Village, specifying the public records or other documents that the Village must furnish to facilitate the Public Access Counselor’s review. The village must provide copies of the Requested public records within seven (7) working days after receipt of the request and fully cooperate with the Public Access Counselor. The Village within that time period may, but it is not required to, answer the allegations of the request for review by letter, brief or memorandum. The Public Access Counselor will forward such an answer, with any alleged confidential information redacted, to the requestor who may provide a response. The requestor or the Village may provide affidavits or records concerning any matter relative to the review. The Attorney General, through the Public Access Counselor, will provide an opinion in response to the request within sixty (60)days after its receipt, unless extended by the Public Access Counselor for up to twenty-one (21) additional business days. The opinion is binding upon the Village and the requestor, subject to administrative review under the Administrative review Law, 735 ILCS 5/3-101 et seq.
E. Judicial Review During Public Access Counselor Review: If a requestor files suit in court while a denial is pending review before the Public Access Counselor, the requestor is required to notify the Public Access Counselor, who shall take no further action with respect to that request, and shall so notify the Village.
F. Denial Due to Time: The Village’s failure to respond to a written request within five (5) business days, an extension of an additional five (5) business days, or an extended date agreed to in writing between the parties, if any, may be considered by the requestor as a denial of the request.
G. Retention of Denial Notices: Copies of all notices of denial shall be retained by the Village in a single central office file that is open to the public and indexed according to the type of exemption asserted and, to the extent feasible, according to the types of public records requested. That file shall be maintained by the Freedom of Information Officer(s).H. Advisory Opinions by Attorney General: The Village may request the Attorney General, through the Public Access Counselor, to issue an advisory opinion regarding compliance with the Act. Such a request must be in writing executed by the Village Manager or the Village Attorney, and shall contain sufficient accurate facts from which a determination can be made. The Village may rely upon such an opinion so long as the facts upon which the opinion is based have been fully and fairly disclosed to the Public Access Counselor.
Special Requirements Under the Act
A. Records of Funds: All records relating to the obligation, receipt and use of public funds of the Village are public records subject to inspection and copying by the public. (See 5 ILCS 140/2.5)
B. Payrolls: Certified payroll records submitted to the Village under Section 5(a)(2) of the Prevailing Wage Act are public records subject to inspection and copying in accordance with the provisions of the Act; except that contractors’ employees’ addresses, telephone numbers, and social security numbers must be redacted by the Village prior to disclosure.
C. Arrest Reports and Criminal History Records:
1. Arrest Reports: The following chronologically maintained arrest and criminal history information maintained by the Palos Park Police Department shall be furnished as soon as practical, but in no event later than seventy-two (72) hours after the arrest, notwithstanding the time limits otherwise provided for in Section 3 of the Act: (i) information that identifies the individual, including the name, age, address, and photograph, when and if available; (ii) information detailing any charges relating to the arrest; (iii) the time and location of the arrest; (iv) the name of the investigating or arresting law enforcement agency; (v) if the individual is incarcerated, the amount of any bail or bind; (vi) if the individual is incarcerated, the time and date that the individual was received into, discharged from, or transferred from the arresting agency’s custody.
2. Criminal History Records: The following documents maintained by the Village pertaining to criminal history record information are public records subject to inspection and copying by the public pursuant to the Act: (1) court records that are public ; (ii) records that are otherwise available under State or local law; and (iii) records in which the requesting party is the individual identified, except as provided under Section 7(1)(d)(vi) of the Act (disclosure would endanger the life or physical safety of law enforcement personnel or any other person)
3. Limitations on Disclosure: Information described in subsections (iii) through (vi) of Section C.1. above may be withheld if it is determined that disclosure would: (1) interfere with pending or actually and reasonably contemplated law enforcement proceedings conducted by any law enforcement agency; (ii) endanger the life or physical safety of law enforcement or correctional personnel or any other person; or (iii) compromise the security of any correctional facility.
4. Juvenile Records: The provisions of the Act do not supercede the confidentiality provisions for arrest records of the Juvenile Court Act of 1987. (See 5 ILCS 140/2. 15)
D. Settlement Agreements: All settlement agreements entered into by or on behalf of the Village are public records subject to inspection and copying by the public, provided that information exempt from disclosure under Section 7 of the Act may be redacted. (See 5 ILCS 140/2. 20)
E. Commercial Purposes: When public records are requested for commercial purposes, the Freedom of Information Officer(s) shall respond within twenty-one (21) working days. The response shall:
1. provide the requestor with an estimate of the amount of time required to provide the requested public records and an estimate of the fees to be charged, which must be prepaid;
2. deny the request pursuant to any applicable exemption(s);
3. notify the requestor that the request is unduly burdensome and extend an
4. opportunity to attempt to reduce the request to manageable proportions; or
5. provide the requested records
F. Public Record in Possession of Another: A public record that is not in the possession of the Village but is in the possession of a party with whom the Village has contracted to perform a governmental function on behalf of the Village, and that directly relates to the governmental function of the Village, but is not otherwise exempt under the Act, is considered a public record of the Village For purposes of the Act.
A. Fees Generally: Except when a fee is otherwise fixed by statute, the Village shall charge fees reasonably calculated to reimburse its actual cost for reproducing and certifying public records and for the use, by any person, of Village equipment to copy public records.
B. Electronic Format: When a person requests a copy of a public record maintained in an electronic format, the Village shall furnish it in the electronic format specified by the requestor, if feasible. If it is not feasible to furnish the public record in the specified electronic format, then the Village shall furnish it in the format in which it is maintained by the Village, or in paper format, at the opinion of the requestor. For public records produced in electronic format, the village shall charge the requestor for the actual cost of purchasing the recording medium, whether disc, diskette, tape or other medium. Any statutory fees applicable to copies of public records when furnished in paper format shall not be applicable to those public records when furnished in electronic format.
C. Fee Schedule: Fees may include postage, or the actual cost incurred in sending via facsimile if the requestor asks for the response to be sent via facsimile, but must exclude the costs of any search for and review of the public record. Such fees shall be imposed accordingly to the following schedule of fees:
|Public Record Fee||Fee|
|Duplication of black & white Village records that are letter size (8 ½ x 11) or legal size (8 ½ x 14)||The first 50 pages shall be at no charge with any pages in excess of 50 at $0.15 per page|
|Duplication of Village records that Are in color, or are not letter size (8 ½ X 11) or legal size (8 ½ x 14), except As noted elsewhere in this chart||Actual cost to copy|
|Certification of records||$1.00 per certification|
|Police accident reports||$5.00 per report|
|Accident reconstruction Report||$20.00 per report|
D. Payment of Fees: If a request is made in person, and Village staff is able to comply with the request at that time, all fees must be paid upon receipt of the public records. If additional time is needed to comply with the request, the requestor will be notified when the public records are available, and fees must be paid at the time of delivery. Written confirmation from the requestor should be obtained for charges over $25.00.
E. Waiver or Reduction of Fee: Public records shall be furnished without charge or at a reduced charge, as determined by the Village Manager, if the requestor states the specific purpose for the request and indicates that a waiver or reduction of the fee is in the public interest. Waiver or reduction of the fee is in the public interest if the principal purpose of the request is to access and disseminate information regarding the health, safety, and welfare or the legal rights of the general public and is not for the principal purpose of personal or commercial benefit. For purposes of this subsection, “commercial benefit” shall not apply to requests made by news media when the principal purpose of the request is to access and disseminate information regarding the health, safety, and welfare or the legal rights of the general public. In setting the amount of the waiver or reduction, the Village may take into consideration the amount of public records requested and the cost of copying them.
A. General Information: The Village shall post on its website and prominently display at the Village Hall and at each of its administrative or regional offices, make available for inspection and copying, and send through the mail if requested, each of the following:
1. A brief description of itself, which will include, but not be limited to, a short summary of its purpose, a block diagram giving its functional subdivisions, the total amount of its operating budget, the number and location of all of its separate offices, the approximate number of full and part-time employees, and the identification and membership of any board, commission, committee, or council which operates in an advisory capacity relative to its operation, or which exercises control over its policies or procedures, or to which the Village is required to report and be answerable for its operations; and
2. A brief description of the methods whereby the public may request information and public records, a directory designating the Freedom of information Officer(s) and addresses where requests for public records should be directed, and any fees required for copying charges.
B. List of Records: The Village shall maintain and make available for inspection and copying a reasonably current list of all types or categories of public records under its control. The list shall be reasonably detailed in order to aid persons in obtaining access to public records pursuant to the Act. The Village shall furnish, upon request, a description of the manner in which public records stored by means of electronic data processing may be obtained in a form comprehensible to persons lacking knowledge of computer language or printout format.