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20FC:0085

Date: 
12/17/2020
Subject: 
Michael Dominick/Benton County Sheriff - Informal Resolution Report & Order
Opinion: 

The Iowa Public Information Board

In re the Matter of:

Michael Dominick, Complainant

And Concerning:

Benton County Sheriff Department, Respondent

 

                      Case Number: 20FC:0085

                                  

                     Informal Resolution Order

              

 

This matter comes before the Iowa Public Information Board (IPIB) this 17th day of December, 2020, to consider the Acceptance of an Informal Resolution.

The IPIB accepted the complaint against the Benton County Sheriff Department on October 15, 2020.  Pursuant to Iowa Code section 23.9, the parties negotiated and reached a proposed Informal Resolution.

The Board has reviewed the informal resolution and approves it pursuant to Iowa Administrative Rule 497-2.4(3).  The IPIB chair is directed to sign the Informal Resolution on behalf of the IPIB.

The parties have 60 days to complete the proposed terms from today’s date.  If the terms of the Informal Resolution are completed, the IPIB will dismiss the complaint.

 

_______________________________

IPIB Chair

 

CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE

 

This document was sent by electronic mail on the _________ day of ___________, 2020, to:

 

Michael Dominick

John Lindaman, Chief Deputy, Benton County Sheriff Department

David Thompson, Benton County Attorney

 

Before The Iowa Public Information Board

In re the Matter of:

Michael Dominick, Complainant

And Concerning:

Benton County Sheriff Department, Respondent

 

                      Case Number: 20FC:0085

                                  

                     Informal Resolution Report

              

 

COMES NOW, Margaret E. Johnson, Executive Director for the Iowa Public Information Board (IPIB), and respectfully submits this Informal Resolution Report:

 

On August 26, 2020, Michael Dominick filed formal complaint 20FC:0085, alleging that the Benton County Sheriff Department violated Iowa Code chapter 22.

 

The IPIB accepted the complaint on October 15, 2020, and directed IPIB staff to assist the parties in adopting an informal resolution.  The parties have approved an informal resolution as described in the attached report by Brett Toresdahl, IPIB deputy director.

 

The terms of the informal resolution are to be completed within 60 days of acceptance by all parties.  Upon showing proof of compliance, the IPIB shall dismiss this complaint as successfully resolved.

 

It is recommended that the IPIB approve the proposed informal resolution, direct the IPIB chair to sign the informal resolution, and set the matter for compliance review in accordance with the terms of the informal resolution.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Margaret E. Johnson, J.D.

Executive Director

 

CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE

 

This document was sent by electronic mail on the _________ day of ___________, 2020, to:

Michael Dominick

John Lindaman, Chief Deputy, Benton County Sheriff Department

David Thompson, Benton County Attorney

 

 

 

Michael Dominick, Complainant

And

Benton County Sheriff Department, Respondent

Case Number: 20FC:0085

Informal Resolution Report

On August 26, 2020, Michael Dominick filed formal complaint 20FC:0085, alleging that the Benton County Sheriff (Sheriff) violated Iowa Code chapter 22. 

Mr. Dominick alleged that on August 20, 2020, the Sheriff charged him $25.00 for a copy of a video on a flash drive.  He alleged that this cost was in excess of the actual costs of fulfilling the record request as required by Iowa Code chapter 22.3(2).  He provided a copy of the fee schedule used by the Sheriff.


In response to the complaint, the chief deputy of the Sheriff’s office stated that the fee policy indicates a flat fee of $25.00.  He also indicated that the video required review prior to release to determine if there was any confidential material in the video.  He was not able to provide a breakdown of costs to determine what the actual costs were.

 Iowa Code section 22.3 allows for the payment of fees prior to release of a public record based upon actual costs.  Subsection 22.3(2) states:

Actual costs shall include only those expenses directly attributable to supervising the examination of and making and providing copies of public records. Actual costs shall not include charges for ordinary expenses or costs such as employment benefits, depreciation, maintenance, electricity, or insurance associated with the administration of the office of the lawful custodian

The Sheriff relied upon a policy that establishes the costs related to discovery for public record requests.  A public record request is not the same as a discovery request.  The fees for fulfilling a public record request are based upon actual costs, not a flat fee that may or may not reflect actual costs.

 Mr. Dominick also questioned whether the costs involved in retrieving and reviewing a public record can be considered part of actual costs.  This portion of his complaint was without merit.  Section 22.3(2) specifically states that “(a)ll expenses of the examination and copying shall be paid by the person desiring to examine or copy.  The lawful custodian may charge a reasonable fee for the services of the lawful custodian or the custodian’s authorized designee in supervising the examination and copying of the records.”

The Iowa Public Information Board (IPIB) accepted the formal complaint on October 15, 2020, as it pertains to fees charged for a public record.

Pursuant to Iowa Code 23.9, the parties negotiated and reached an informal resolution.


The parties agree to the following terms:

  1. The Benton County Sheriff will acknowledge that the fee schedule for a public record request should be established based on actual costs and is different than the fee schedule for discovery records.
  2. The Benton County Sheriff shall establish a fee schedule specifically for the retrieval, review, and release of public records based upon actual costs. A copy shall be provided to the IPIB.
  3. The Benton County Sheriff department shall provide Mr. Dominick with a copy of the fee schedule for public records and an estimate of the actual cost of producing the records which he has requested.
  4. Mr. Dominick shall have the opportunity upon receipt of the fee estimate to determine if he wants to pay the fee and receive the requested records.


The terms of this informal resolution will be completed within 60 days of acceptance by all parties.  Upon showing proof of compliance, the IPIB shall dismiss this complaint as successfully resolved.

The Benton County Sheriff Department approved the informal resolution on October 29, 2020.

Mr. Dominick approved the informal resolution on November 25, 2020.

The IPIB Deputy Director recommends that the IPIB approve the informal resolution and authorize the IPIB Chair to sign the informal resolution on behalf of the IPIB.

By the IPIB Deputy Director

_________________________________

Brett J. Toresdahl

 

 

Printed from the website on May 18, 2021 at 12:19pm.