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20FC:0085

Date: 
02/18/2021
Subject: 
Michael Dominick/Benton County Sheriff - Final 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

            Final Order

                     

 

This matter comes before the Iowa Public Information Board (IPIB) this 18th day of February, 2021, for final review of the informal resolution agreed upon by the parties.

 

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

  

The Iowa Public Information Board (IPIB) accepted the complaint on October 15, 2020.  Pursuant to Iowa Code section 23.9, the parties negotiated and reached an informal resolution.  The IPIB approved the informal resolution on December 17, 2020.


The terms of the informal resolution have been completed.  

Upon showing proof of compliance, the IPIB agreed to dismiss this complaint as resolved..

 

IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that this matter is dismissed as successfully resolved through informal resolution.

 

SO ORDERED this 18th day of December, 2021.

 

______________________________

IPIB Chair

 

CERTIFICATE OF MAILING

    

This document was sent by electronic mail on the ___ day of February, 2021, 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

                               Final Report

COMES NOW Margaret E. Johnson, Executive Director for the Iowa Public Information Board (IPIB), and submits the Informal Resolution Final Report from the IPIB Deputy Director, Brett Toresdahl (Exhibit A). 


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

The Iowa Public Information Board (IPIB) accepted the complaint on October 15, 2020.  Pursuant to Iowa Code section 23.9, the parties negotiated and reached an informal resolution.  The IPIB approved the informal resolution on December 17, 2020.
 

The terms of the informal resolution have been completed, as outlined by the attached report from Brett Toresdahl.  

 

Upon showing proof of compliance, the IPIB agreed to dismiss this complaint as resolved.

 

It is recommended that the IPIB dismiss this complaint.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Margaret E. Johnson, J.D.

Executive Director

 

CERTIFICATE OF MAILING

    

This document was sent by electronic mail on the ___ day of February, 2021, 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 Final 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 Benton County Sheriff Department approved the informal resolution on October 29, 2020.

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

The IPIB approved the informal resolution on December 17, 2020.

The terms of this informal resolution have been completed within 60 days of acceptance by all parties.  The Benton County Sheriff Department acknowledged a violation of Iowa Code chapter 22.  Chief Deputy John Lindaman provided the IPIB with the following information regarding the change in practice within the department: “From the date of this complaint, the practice of the Benton County Sheriff's Office is to only charge for actual costs associated with open records requests and to eliminate scheduled fees.” This statement was provided to the IPIB on February 2, 2021.  On October 27, 2020, the itemized cost of the public records request was provided to Mr. Dominick by the Benton County Sheriff Department.  Mr. Dominick paid $25 and received the records that he had requested.

The proof of compliance has been provided. Therefore, the IPIB should dismiss this complaint as successfully resolved.

By the IPIB Deputy Director

_________________________________

Brett J. Toresdahl

 

 

 

 

Printed from the website on April 17, 2021 at 12:14pm.