NOT TO BE PUBLISHED
May 31, 1994
IN RE: Patricia Jones/City of Burnside
OPEN RECORDS DECISION
This matter comes to the Attorney General as an appeal by Patricia Jones in connection with her attempts to secure access to various documents in the possession of the city of Burnside.
In a letter dated May 11, 1994, Ms. Jones requested access to four categories of documents relating to the city's finances including what she called the "earnings report" and the "payroll journal."
The city clerk, in a letter dated May 13, 1994, advised Ms. Jones that two of her requests would be granted. In regard to the earnings report and the payroll journal the city clerk said:
3. For your request for copies of the Earnings Report:
Your request is denied under the provisions of KRS 61.878A [sic] in which the records are public records of a private nature and pertain to personal privacy statutes.
4. For your request for copies of the Payroll Journal:
Request is denied under provisions of KRS 61.878A [sic] in which the records are found to be public records of a private nature and pertain to personal privacy statutes.
Ms. Jones submitted a letter of appeal, received May 16, 1994, in which she said that although she had received them in the past she was no longer able to obtain copies of the earnings report and the payroll journal from the city.
Although Ms. Jones and the city clerk use the terms "earnings report" and "payroll journal" in a manner that suggests that they understand their meaning, nobody has explained to this office precisely what those terms involve. However, in this or any other proceeding under the Open Records Act the burden of proof rests with the public agency. This office said in 93-ORD-110, copy enclosed, at page two, that the mere invocation of an exception (such as the privacy exception, KRS 61.878(1)(a)), without an adequate explanation of how the exception applies to the records withheld, does not satisfy the burden of proof imposed on the agency under KRS 61.880(2) and KRS 61.882(3).
Furthermore, as discussed in 93-ORD-99, copy enclosed, at pages 2-3, KRS 61.880(1) sets forth the procedural guidelines concerning the public agency's response to a request for public records. In part the public agency is required to set forth the exception to public inspection it is relying upon to deny the request and a brief explanation of how that exception applies to the record withheld.
Aside from the procedural deficiencies in the city's response and its failure to sustain its burden of proof, if the records in question are what we suspect they are, they would have to be released anyway.
If by "payroll journal" the parties are referring to salaries of city officers and employees, this office has consistently stated that the public is entitled to know the name, position, work station, and salary of a public employee. A public employee's right of privacy extends to his personal life and off-duty activities only. See 93-ORD-45 and 93-ORD-118, copies enclosed.
If by "earnings report" the parties are referring to something such as a summary of the city's investments, the public would be entitled to know what the city has done with funds entrusted to it and the results of the city's actions relative to the use and placement of those funds.
It is the decision of the Attorney General that the city of Burnside has not sustained the burden of proof imposed
upon it in a proceeding under the Open Records Act and the city's response is procedurally deficient under KRS 61.880(1). The records in question must be immediately released to Ms. Jones.
The city of Burnside 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:
P.O. Box 858
Burnside, Kentucky 42519
Cecil Goff, Jr.
City Clerk, City of Burnside
Burnside, Kentucky 42519