NOT TO BE PUBLISHED
March 25, 1994
In Re: Richard L. Hundley/Revenue Cabinet
OPEN RECORDS DECISION
This matter comes to the Attorney General as an appeal by Richard L. Hundley, President, National Asset Recovery Systems, Inc. of Springfield, Missouri, in connection with his attempts to secure copies of documents from the Abandoned Property Unit of the Revenue Cabinet.
In a communication to the Abandoned Property Unit of the Revenue Cabinet, dated September 20, 1993, Mr. Hundley said in part:
It is my understanding that you do not provide social security numbers on either your computer reports or paper lists of abandoned property owners. I do understand that pursuant to Kentucky's Open Record Law I may travel to your office, with an appointment, and review the Holder Reports submitted to your office. I further understand that social security numbers are included on the Holder Reports and that I may copy those social security numbers when I come to your office. I further understand that I cannot obtain copies of Holder Reports by mail.
Ms. Belinda Casey of the Abandoned Property Unit of the Revenue Cabinet wrote a note on Mr. Hundley's letter, which he received on September 22, 1993, to the effect he could
review the records in question. She further said he could see the reports and write down what he wanted from them.
In a letter to Ms. Casey, dated September 22, 1993, and designated as an "Open Records Request," Mr. Hundley stated in part:
Pursuant to Kentucky Revised Statutes 61.870-884 and 61.960-975, I request that you provide me with copies of all Holder Reports, including the social security numbers provided by the Holder, received by your agency during the calendar year 1990. Our preference is that you provide this information on computer disk, however, if you deny that this is possible we would request paper copies of the actual Holder Reports.
Although it may have been somewhat premature as an appeal under the Open Records Act, as the public agency had not yet formally responded to Mr. Hundley's letter of September 22, 1993, Mr. Hundley sent a letter to the Attorney General's Office, dated September 22, 1993, which said in part:
We were informally told by the agency that it would not provide us with the social security numbers of abandoned property owners by mail. We were informed by Ms. Belinda Casey, Project Coordinator of Abandoned Property, that if we traveled to Frankfort we could visually inspect the Holder Reports and copy down any social security numbers provided by the holders. We believe that the agency's refusal to provide us with the requested information is in violation of Kentucky's Open Records Law.
Even if the letter to the Attorney General's Office was somewhat premature as an appeal we are treating it as an appeal. Not only did the public agency's subsequent letter to Mr. Hundley, dated October 4, 1993, advise that it would not send him copies of documents which he could have inspected had he traveled to the agency's office in Frankfort, but proceedings under the Open Records Act are more informal than court proceedings. Mr. Hundley's request for documents has
been denied and he has substantially complied with the statutory requirements relative to perfecting an appeal.
Since its inception the Open Records Act has had a provision (KRS 61.874(1)) that upon inspection of the documents, the applicant shall have a right to make abstracts of the public records, and to obtain copies of those records. Furthermore, KRS 61.874(2) provides that the public agency may prescribe a reasonable free for making copies of the public records and that the fee cannot exceed the actual cost, not including the cost of staff required.
Among the significant changes in the Open Records Act enacted by the Kentucky General Assembly in 1992 (effective July 14, 1992) is the requirement that a public agency mail copies of records to persons whose residence or principal place of business is outside the county in which the records are located, if the records are precisely described and are readily available within the public agency. See KRS 61.872(3)(b). This enactment represents a radical departure from the old law, and reflects a concern that persons residing outside the county where the records are maintained should not be required to travel great distances in order to inspect public records. See 92-ORD 1620, copy enclosed.
Thus, under the newly enacted provision (KRS 61.872(3)(b)), a public agency cannot require a requesting party to come to the agency's Frankfort office to inspect an otherwise public record if that requesting party's residence or principal place of business is outside the county (in this case, Franklin County, Kentucky) where the records are located. The public agency knows what records are sought and since the requesting party's principal place of business is in another state, the public agency is required to mail to the requesting party copies of those records he would have been permitted to inspect had he come to the public agency's office in Frankfort. If there are any specific exceptions in the statutes pertaining to the operations of the Revenue Cabinet which permit it to avoid providing copies of the records in question they should have been cited by the Cabinet in its responses to the requesting party.
The Revenue Cabinet may challenge this decision by initiating action in the appropriate circuit court pursuant to KRS 61.880(5) and KRS 61.882. The Attorney General shall be notified of any actions filed against the adverse party
pursuant to KRS 61.880(3), but he shall not be named as a party to these actions or in any subsequent proceedings.
Thomas R. Emerson
Assistant Attorney General
Copies of this decision
have been mailed to:
Richard L. Hundley
National Asset Recovery Systems, Inc.
300 John Q. Hammons Parkway
Springfield, Missouri 65806
Abandoned Property Unit
Miscellaneous Excise Tax Section
Revenue Cabinet - Station #62
209 St. Clair Street - Fourth Floor
Frankfort, Kentucky 40601