NOT TO BE PUBLISHED
July 17, 1996
In re: Kevin W. Robinson/Woodford County Police Department
OPEN RECORDS DECISION
This appeal originated in an open records request submitted by Mr. Kevin W. Robinson to the Woodford County Police Department for copies of various records relating to his criminal case, number 91-CR-00007. The Department furnished him with copies of the requested records at a cost of twenty-five cents per page. Mr. Robinson objects to this copying charge, which he believes to be excessive. We are asked to determine if the Department violated the Open Records Act by charging Mr. Robinson twenty-five cents per page for copies of public records. For reasons which follow, we conclude that twenty-five cents per page is not a reasonable copying charge within the meaning of KRS 61.874(3). If a public agency charges more than ten cents per page, it has the burden of establishing that this is not an excessive fee. 94-ORD-43.
An agency can only assess a reasonable copying charge for public records not to exceed its actual costs, excluding staff time required. A number of public agencies continue to impose clearly excessive fees. Unless these agencies can document that their actual costs are greater than ten cents per page, both the courts and this office have demonstrated an unwillingness to countenance higher copying charges. See, e.g., Friend v. Rees, Ky.App., 696 S.W.2d 325 (1985); 94-ORD-77.
KRS 61.874(3) provides in relevant part:
The public agency may prescribe a reasonable fee for making copies of nonexempt public records requested for use for noncommercial purposes which shall not exceed the actual cost of reproduction, including the costs of the media and any mechanical processing cost incurred by the public agency, but not including the cost of staff required.
This provision has been interpreted to mean that the fee charged for copies should be based on the agency's actual expense, not including staff costs. The fee is thus limited to the proportionate cost of maintaining copying equipment by purchase or rental, and the supplies involved. In Friend v. Rees, supra, the Kentucky Court of Appeals held that ten cents per page was a reasonable copying charge under the Open Records Act.
This office has previously held that a twenty-five cent copying charge is excessive when that fee is not based upon the agency's actual cost, exclusive of personnel, for making copies. 94-ORD-43; OAG 90-50. We continue to ascribe to this view. In the instant case, Woodford County Police Department failed to establish that its actual cost for reproducing records is greater than ten cents per page, based on the cost of media and mechanical processing as defined in KRS 61.870(7) and (8). Thus, we conclude that twenty-five cents per page is an excessive copying fee. The Department must recalculate its copying fee to conform to the requirements of KRS 61.874(3) and charge Mr. Robinson accordingly.
A party aggrieved by this decision may appeal it by initiating action in the appropriate circuit court. Pursuant to KRS 61.880(3), the Attorney General shall be notified of any action in circuit court, but shall not be named as a party in that action or in any subsequent proceedings.
A. B. CHANDLER III
JAMES M. RINGO
ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
Kevin W. Robinson #113354
Western Kentucky Correctional Complex
P. O. Box 5000
Eddyville KY 42038-5000
Chief of Police
Woodford County Police Department
202 Beasley Drive
Versailles KY 40383