Garfield County Open Records Policy
(relative to the Colorado Open Records Act - CORA)
• Basic Principle
• Time for Accessing Public Records
• Inspection of Records
• Closure of Request
• Denial of Public Inspection of Public Records
Open Records Policy
1. Basic Principle
It is the policy of the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) that all public records shall be open for inspection by any person at reasonable times, except as provided by the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA), C.R.S. § 24-72-201, et seq. (the Act), or by other laws.
Though all public records are to be open for inspection by any person at reasonable times, procedures for such disclosure can be subject to rules and regulations made by the official custodian or the custodian. These rules and regulations are authorized as being reasonably necessary for the protection of such records and for the prevention of unnecessary interference with the regular discharge of the duties of the custodian or his or her office or department. Such rules and regulations cannot change the Act, and in the event this policy conflicts with the Act, the Act controls. For example, such rules and regulations cannot limit who is entitled to inspect records or limit what records are open for inspection. Depending upon the circumstances of a request, Garfield County reserves the right to allow a custodian to establish specific rules and regulations necessary for the protection of such records and for the prevention of unnecessary interference with the regular discharge of the duties of the custodian or her or his office or department. This policy is subject to interpretation by the Garfield County Attorney's Office, and exceptions may be made in individual cases at their discretion. For the complete Colorado Open Records Act, see C.R.S. § 24-72-201, et seq.
The definitions found in C.R.S. § 24-72-202, as amended from time to time, shall apply unless the context clearly requires a different meaning.
A. All requests made pursuant to the Act shall be made on the official Records Request Form. The official Records Requests Form can be found online at www.garfield-county.com or at the Garfield County Attorney's Office. Completed Records Request Forms shall be submitted by email, regular mail, facsimile or in person to the Garfield County Attorney's Office. The Garfield County Attorney's Office will forthwith transmit the Records Request Form to the appropriate department(s). Garfield County has a limited amount of time within which to respond to open records requests. See Section 4 below (Time for Accessing Public Records) for more information.
B. The Clerk to the Board of County Commissioners is the official custodian of all recorded records maintained by Garfield County. Department heads are the official custodians of all records maintained within their departments. The Manager of IT is the official custodian of emails.
Elected Officials may develop their own policies and procedure regarding public records within their custody and control. To the extent that Garfield County has custody of any public records of an Elected Official, however, Garfield County shall, in consultation with the Elected Official, meet any requirement of the Act as it may apply to documents in Garfield County's possession.
If the public records requested are not in the custody or control of the department or person to which the application identifies, the requestor shall be forthwith notified of this fact, in writing, if requested by the requestor. Such notification shall state in detail to the best of the person's knowledge and belief the reason for the absence of the records from the person's custody or control, the location of the records, and what person then has custody or control of the records. See C.R.S. § 24-72-203(2)(a).
C. Pursuant to the Garfield County email retention policy, emails are retained for six months.
D. A substantial amount of public records related to Garfield County are available free of charge at the county website, www.garfield-county.com. These include, but are not limited to, budgets, agendas and minutes of the meetings of the Board of County Commissioners, parcel maps, oil and gas reports, and other information. See C.R.S. § 24-72-205.
E. Please be advised that records in the custody and control of the following offices and departments are exempt from this policy, and additional laws and regulations may pertain to their records:
(1) Garfield County Sheriff's Office: Information regarding records requests from the Garfield County Sheriff's Office is available at www.garcosheriff.com. Requests for Sheriff's Office records should be made in writing and mailed or delivered to the Records Manager, 107 8th Street, Glenwood Springs, CO 81601; (970) 945-0453. Criminal Justice Records are governed by the Criminal Justice Records Act, C.R.S. § 24-72-301, et seq.
(2) Garfield County District Attorney's Office: Make all records requests to the District Attorney's Office, 109 8th Street, Suite 308, Glenwood Springs, CO 81601; (970) 945-8635.
(3) Garfield County Coroner's Office: Make all record requests to the Garfield County Coroner, 405 West 7th Street, Glenwood Springs, CO 81601; (970) 945-5815.
(4) Department of Human Services: Make all records requests to the Administrative Clerk/Records Coordinator, Garfield County Department of Human Services, 195 West 14th Street, Rifle, CO 81650. Human Services records are subject to additional legal protections under state and federal law.
(5) Department of Public Health: Make all records requests to the Department of Public Health, 2014 Blake Avenue, Glenwood Springs, CO 81601; (970) 945-6614. Public Health records are subject to additional legal protections under state and federal law.
4. Time for Accessing Public Records
A. Time for Inspection of Records - Three Working Days.
The Garfield County Attorney's Office shall set a date and hour within three working days when the records will be available for inspection. If the requested records are in active use or are in storage and, therefore, are not available right away, this fact shall be communicated to the requestor forthwith, in writing. See C.R.S. § 24-72-203(3)(a).
B. Seven-Day Extension of Time.
The period of providing requested documents for review may be extended for an additional seven working days if the Garfield County Attorney's Office determines that one of the following extenuating circumstances exists, and states such condition in writing to the requestor within the first three working days of receipt of the request (C.R.S. § 24-72-203(3)(b)):
(1) A broadly-stated request is made that encompasses all or substantially all of a large category of records and the request is without sufficient specificity to allow the Garfield County Attorney's Office to reasonably prepare or gather the records within the three-day period, C.R.S. § 24-72-203(3)(b)(I), or
(2) A broadly-stated request is made that encompasses all or substantially all of a large category of records, and the Garfield County Attorney is unable to prepare or gather the records within the three-day period because:
a. The custodian needs to devote all or substantially all of its resources to meeting an impending deadline or period of peak demand that is either unique or not predicted to recur more frequently than once a month; or
b. A request involves such a large volume of records that the custodian cannot reasonably prepare or gather records within the three-day period without substantially interfering with the custodian's obligation to perform his or her other public service responsibilities. See C.R.S. § 24 72 203(3)(b)(II).
(3) In no event can extenuating circumstances apply to a request that relates to a single, specifically identified document. See C.R.S. § 24-72-203(3)(b)(III)(c).
C. When Time Period for Response Begins:
The time period for response does not begin to run until Garfield County receives the request on its official Records Request Form. If the form is sent by:
(1) E-mail, it is deemed received when it is viewed by the recipient.
(2) U.S. Mail, it is deemed received when its seal is broken.
(3) Fax, it is deemed received when it is printed during regular business hours.
(4) Notwithstanding the foregoing, requests received outside of normal business hours, on holidays, and over weekends will be deemed received no earlier than 8:00 a.m. on the next business day.
A. The fees charged by Garfield County are consistent with the provisions of the Act.
B. Standard fees for records requests include copy charges, research, retrieval and redaction time, and actual costs associated with fulfilling the request. Research, retrieval and redaction time may include, but is not limited to: actual costs involved in the gathering of documents, costs associated with specialized IT support, and staff time required to perform research, locate, retrieve, review and redact records, and create or run records in electronic or digital format. The nature of the request dictates the potential fees and costs incurred. The fees charged for copies, research and retrieval time and all other actual costs associated with fulfilling a records request are shown on the Garfield County Open Records Request Fee Schedule.
C. Pursuant to C.R.S. § 24-72-205(6) there is no charge for the first hour of time spent for the research and retrieval of records. A fee of $30 an hour will be charged for each hour of research and retrieval time thereafter. The fee will be assessed in quarter of an hour increments.
D. A requestor will be notified in advance of any applicable fee. Garfield County will not begin to gather the requested records or otherwise commence work on a records request without prior approval by the requestor and advance payment of all anticipated costs associated with fulfilling the records request if more than one hour of research and retrieval time is needed to gather the requested records.
6. Inspection of Open Records
Inspection of records will take place during regular business hours (Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.) in the Garfield County Attorney's Office, 108 8th Street, Suite 219, Glenwood Springs, CO 81601, unless the Garfield County Attorney's Office deems it appropriate that the inspection take place in a different Garfield County department. In no event may a requestor remove documents or add documents to those provided for review. The requestor shall not bring and shall not use photocopiers, fax machines or any other copy, scanning or reproduction device to copy Garfield County records. Upon completion of the review, the requestor must mark with tabs the pages she or he wishes to have copied. Copies will be made at a later time, depending upon volume. The requestor will be notified when the copies are available for pick-up. Garfield County is under no obligation to allow citizens access to Garfield County computers nor is Garfield County obligated to provide records in electronic format.
7. Denial of Inspection of Records
A. Denial of inspection must be specific and can only be based on the grounds enumerated in the Act. If Garfield County denies inspection of any record, a statement identifying the nature of the record and/or group of records and the reasons for denial of inspection with specific reference to the applicable law will be provided in writing to the requestor.
8. Closure of Request
A records request is deemed closed under any of the following cases:
A. After records made available for inspection have been inspected by the requestor and no copies of these records are requested;
B. After records made available for inspection have been inspected by the requestor and requested copies have been provided consistent with this Policy; or
C. After records have been made available for inspection for ten business days and the requestor has (i) failed to make arrangements for inspection; (ii) failed actually to inspect the records after arrangements have been made; or (iii) failed to provide advance payment as required.
D. A requestor whose request has been closed under this Section 7 and who still wishes to inspect the same records must submit a new request.