If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
Grady County officials say that the county has been inundated with open records requests, primarily from two particular individuals, and it is requiring more and more time of county personnel to respond to the frequent requests for public information.
On Tuesday, Grady County Administrator J.C. (Buddy) Johnson III, told commissioners that if the demand for information continues or grows, he would recommend the board consider hiring an open records clerk.
According to Johnson, the most frequent requests for information are filed by Betty Godwin and Richard Jordan, both vocal critics of county government.
Johnson says the requests have gone “through the roof” and he said many are very detailed. “This pulls people off of work and is disruptive,” Johnson said.
The county administrator acknowledges that anyone has the legal right to request to inspect public records and make copies of them, but he says the law also requires a response within three business days. He said county clerk, John White, often spends a considerable amount of time tracking down requested information in order to meet the response deadline and is unable to focus on his other duties.
Johnson said that for a recent request, county road superintendent, Stanley Elkins, was called off of a job site to attempt to locate a requested public record, which may or may not exist. The administrator also shared an example of a county staffer researching the minutes of a meeting approximately 20 years ago in an attempt to find some requested information.
Johnson said, in the past, the county has gone above and beyond in responding to open records request, but going forward his instructions to the staff were to strictly comply with the law and nothing more.
“I apologize to anyone who may be inconvenienced, but in the past we have gone over and beyond. We don’t have to do that. If someone is trying to find something that may or may not have been in the minutes from 20 years ago they are welcome to come to the courthouse and search through the minute books themselves,” Johnson said.
Commission Chairwoman LaFaye Copeland said she thought the county had been doing what it was required to do, but Johnson said the county has to make the records available for inspection, but it is not required to search the records to find what someone thinks may or may not be there. He said if a citizen is on a “fishing expedition” it is on the requester and not the county to do the hunting.
In related business, County Clerk White briefed the board on a proposal from Secure Solutions of Thomasville, which has organized and catalogued approximately 20 years of records the county has been maintaining and identified the records that can be destroyed as well as the ones that must be retained.
According to White, a fee of $1,000 will be charged to destroy approximately 200 boxes of old records and the remaining approximately 100 boxes of records that must be maintained will be stored by the firm in a secure location for a fee of $65 per month.
County Administrator Johnson said the fee to destroy records in the future would be less now that the county is in the process of regularly disposing of records more frequently.
The county administrator also noted that the county would be charged a fee of $15 per occurrence when information that is stored is requested. Johnson said that is not $15 per record, but $15 per occurrence.
The records are those of the county commission and does not include other records from constitutional officers, Johnson noted.
The board approved the disposal fee and contracting with Secure Solutions to store the records off-site. Johnson said the county would evaluate how county records are stored and maintained.
In other business Tuesday, the board:
‰Heard a report from Administrator Johnson that through the county purchasing fuel through WEX Fleet Gas Cards, the county can save on motor fuel sales taxes it is not obligated to pay. On preliminary information, Johnson said it appears the county will save approximately $500-$600 per month based on current monthly fuel purchases. Through WEX, the county employees can fill up at any major U.S. gas station. Driver I.D. cards are entered for every transaction, and the county can set purchase limits, type of fuel authorized for purchase and more. The county also receives accounting information reflecting the driver, odometer reading and more.
‰Approved a subdivision plat for Chris Boswell.