December 23, 1996

In re: Kimberly A. Hobbs/McCracken County Judge/Executive

Open Records Decision

This matter comes to the Attorney General on appeal from the response of the McCracken County Judge/Executive to Ms. Kimberly A. Hobbs's open records request, dated November 14, 1996, for copies of all records:

. . . relating to child support amounts received, withheld or collected on the account of the above-referenced individual and records of any amounts deposited, disbursed, or transferred into other related or special accounts, said records to include the dates on which any such receipts, collections, withholdings, deposits, disbursements or transfers occurred.

In her letter of appeal to this office, dated November 21, 1996, Ms. Hobbs states that, as of the date of her letter, she had received no response from the McCracken County Judge/Executive.

On November 25, 1996, we sent a “Notification of Receipt of Open Records Appeal” to the McCracken County Judge/Executive and enclosed a copy of Ms. Hobbs's letter of appeal. Although authorized by KRS 61.880(2) and 40 KAR 1:030, Section 2, to provide this office with a response to the issues raised in the appeal, no such response was received.

On December 16, 1996, the undersigned contacted Ms. Hobbs to see if she had received a response. She indicated that she had received a response from the agency and faxed a copy to this office. The response, dated November 25, 1996, from Mr. Danny Orazine, McCracken County Judge/Executive, states:

Our County Attorney has advised me that deductions are not subject to open records laws — only annual salary or hourly wages. I have no personal objection to giving you any information you need, but since this information is not subject to any open records laws, we will need a request from Randall Hobbs to release it.

We are asked to determine whether the County Judge/Executive's response was consistent with the Open Records Act. For the reasons which follow, we conclude that the response was consistent in part and inconsistent in part with the Act.

KRS 61.880(1) sets forth procedural guidelines for agency response to an open records request. That statute provides:

Each public agency, upon any request for records made under KRS 61.870 to 61.884, shall determine within three (3) days, excepting Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays, after the receipt of any such request whether to comply with the request and shall notify in writing the person making the request, within the three (3) day period, of its decision. An agency response denying, in whole or in part, inspection of any record shall 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. The response shall be issued by the official custodian or under his authority, and it shall constitute final agency action.

The failure of the McCracken County Judge/Executive's Office to respond in writing, and within three business days, to Ms. Hobbs's request was procedurally deficient and in violation of the requirements of KRS 61.880(1). Likewise, the failure to cite the specific statute which authorized the withholding of the requested record along with a brief explanation of how the cited exception applied to the record withheld also constitutes a violation of the Act. Procedural requirements are not mere formalities but are an essential part of the prompt and orderly processing of an open records request. 93-ORD-125.

As to the substantive issue, this office has previously held that the public is entitled to know the name, position, work station, and salary of officers and employees of public agencies. OAG 76-717. These are matters in which the public has an interest since public employees are carrying on the public's business at public expense and, thus, are subject to public disclosure. However, a public employee is entitled to privacy as to his personal life. We have recognized that materials setting forth information as to amounts withheld from pay checks of public employees such as taxes, insurance, retirement, and savings are within the privacy exception to public inspection under KRS 61.878(1)(a). 96-ORD-258. Child support deductions withheld would fall within this latter class.

Accordingly, we conclude that the County Judge/Executive's response denying the request for copies of records relating to the public employee's payroll deductions for child support was consistent with the Open Records Act.

A party aggrieved by this decision may appeal it by initiating action in the appropriate circuit court pursuant to KRS 61.880(5) and KRS 61.882. Pursuant to KRS 61.880(3), the Attorney General should be notified of any action in circuit court, but should not be named as a party in that action or in any subsequent proceeding.

A. B. Chandler III

Attorney General

James M. Ringo

Assistant Attorney General

1383Distributed to:

Kimberly A. Hobbs

731 Dunaway Lane

Boaz KY 42027

Danny Orazine

McCracken County Judge/Executive

McCracken County Courthouse

301 S. 6th Street

Paducah KY 42003

Fred Grimes

McCracken County Attorney

McCracken County Courthouse

301 6th Street

Paducah KY 42003