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Marine City Commission adopts updated FOIA Policy

Photo courtesy of CTV Community Television/YouTube Marine City Attorney Robert Davis explains the FOIA Police and Procedure Guidelines at a May 18, 2023 regular meeting of the city commission.

By Barb Pert Templeton

A new Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Policy Procedures and Guidelines packet, prepared by Marine City Attorney Robert Davis. was formally and unanimously approved by the Marine City Commission on May 18.

The packet he provided to the commission included 45 pages of information including FOIA forms.

“I know this was exciting reading for all of you and voluminous but it is what it has to be,” Davis said. “The state requires that you maintain a written FOIA policy procedure and guideline and also requires that you have a reader friendly summary, which is also in there, and that you have the opportunity to create your own forms.”

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He suggested the FOIA documents be placed on the city’s website along with the forms. Having the policy in place and posted online gives some consistency to the city staff as to how to manager FOIA requests, he added.

Mayor Pro Tem Lisa Hendrick said officials were always told they had a policy in place but said “obviously we didn’t?” 

“You have one,” Davis said.

Photo courtesy of
A number of forms, including this one, will soon be available on the Marine City website for those interested in filing FOIA requests.

“But it lacks a lot, putting it nicely?” laughed Hendricks.
“I would prefer that you go with the one that is before you, it has been tried and tested,” Davis replied. 

Hendrick then asked if the forms were going to be accessible online so people can fill them out there and send them in and Davis said yes. City Manager Scott Adkins added that the plan is to have additional up-to-date forms, relevant to 2023, and have everything one click away for users.

“That will be a task that is undertaken when the new clerk is on board in the very near future,” Adkins added. 

The documents in the FOIA packet provided noted that the city clerk is the FOIA Coordinator and they follow all state laws in replying to requests sent in by fax, email or snail mail. The policy states that any request coming in is recorded as arriving the following day. 

The request must sufficiently describe the public record being sought so the clerk can find it. The city has five days to respond to the request and can request an additional 10 days to fill the request under certain circumstances. 

The five possible responses to a request by the FOIA Coordinator include:

  1. Granting the request
  2. Issuing a written denial
  3. Granting part of the request/part of it denied
  4. Indicate the city needs 10 more days to comply
  5. Being told the information they are seeking is available on the city website

The labor costs involved are charged in 15-minute increments at a rate of the lowest paid hourly employee in the city, not necessarily the person fulfilling the FOIA request. Labor costs are for copying, searching and examining documents, any costs for putting the information on a disc and costs for postage. 

Other information provided in the lengthy packet included information on appealing a denial of records and how officials will handle appeals going forward.

“These policies are good for both sides, they are good citizens and good for the community,” Davis said.

Hendrick made the motion to approve the FOIA Policy and Procedures Guidelines and it was seconded by Commissioner Brian Ross. 

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