Mackinac Center files FOIA suit against City of Westland, Mich.

Submitted by LDieringer on Fri, 09/20/2013 - 8:15am

From Mackinac Center:  In June of this year, Capitol Confidential sent Freedom of Information Act requests to every municipality in the state which operates a golf course seeking financial information. Westland responded that the city requires a $5 fee up front before they will provide any information.

Westland also charged $1 per page for copying costs and $45.61 per hour for the person gathering the information.

According to Michigan’s FOIA law, public entities may only charge “a fee for a public record search, the necessary copying of a public record for inspection, or for providing a copy of a public record.” This money “shall be limited to actual mailing costs, and to the actual incremental cost of duplication or publication including labor, the cost of search, examination, review and the deletion and separation of exempt from nonexempt information.”

Mackinac Center attorney Patrick Wright said that each of those fees are illegal.

“Charging a $5 fee to simply start the process is just a roadblock the city has put up to try and discourage people from participating in the democratic process,” Wright said. “If it can be $5, then why not $1,000?”

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