June 4, 1993




IN RE: Ed Cahill/City of Russell Springs






This matter comes to the Attorney General on appeal from the City of Russell Springs' denial of Mr. Ed Cahill's May 13, 1993, request to inspect employment contracts between the City and the City Attorney, City Clerk, Public Works Supervisor, and Fire Chief. Mr. Cahill also requested any employment contracts between the City and other current City employees.


In a letter dated May 17, 1993, Mr. Robert L. Bertram, City Attorney, denied Mr. Cahill's request. Although he agreed to release the name, position, work station, and gross salary of the named individuals, he argued that "the remaining parts of the personnel files are private and would be an invasion of privacy should they be divulged." Mr. Bertram did not cite a specific exception to public inspection authorizing nondisclosure.


We are asked to determine if the City of Russell Springs properly denied Mr. Cahill's request. For the reasons set forth below, and upon the authorities cited, we conclude that the City violated the Open Records Act in denying the request.


KRS 61.880(1) sets forth procedural guidelines for agency response to an open records request. That statute requires that an agency response denying all or any part of a request must include "a statement of the specific exception authorizing the withholding of the record and a brief

explanation of how the exception applies to the record withheld." Although Mr. Bertram indirectly referred to the privacy exception, codified at KRS 61.878(1)(a), he did not cite the specific exception or explain how it applies to the records withheld.


Turning to the substantive issues raised in this appeal, we find that the City improperly withheld the requested employment contracts. This Office has consistently recognized that contracts of employment involving a public agency are public records and must be made available for inspection. OAG 81-169; OAG 82-268; OAG 85-85; OAG 85-91. This position is consistent with the general rule that the contracts, vouchers, and other business records of a public agency are open to public inspection. OAG 85-91, at p. 3. The City should immediately arrange for Mr. Cahill to inspect the contracts.


The City of Russell Springs may challenge this decision by initiating an action in the appropriate circuit court pursuant to KRS 61.880(5) and KRS 61.882.














Distributed to:


Hon. Robert L. Bertram

City of Russell Springs

P. O. Box 247

Russell Springs, KY 42642


Mr. Ed Cahill

Managing Editor

Russell County Newspapers, Inc.

P. O. Box 190

120 Wilson St.

Russell Springs, KY 42642