September 2, 1997


In re: William H. Buck/City of Hawesville

Open Records Decision

This matter comes to the Attorney General as an appeal by William H. Buck in connection with his attempt to secure copies of documents from the city of Hawesville.

In a letter to the mayor and the city clerk, dated July 18, 1997, Mr. Buck requested copies of all of the certificates of deposit of the city in the lock box at the bank.

In a letter, dated July 31, 1997, and received by this office on August 4, 1997, Mr. Buck stated that he had received no "formal reply to why these documents cannot be supplied." He said the clerk advised him that she does not have copies of or access to the documents.

Mr. Buck sent this office a letter dated August 8, 1997, to which were attached copies of the certificates of deposit he received on July 22, 1997. He said all the certificates of deposit had expired, that he had asked the mayor for the current certificates, and that she would not supply them.

This office next received a letter from the city attorney, dated August 8, 1997, stating in part as follows:

On behalf of the Mayor and City Clerk of the City of Hawesville I would like to respond that the requested information was in fact delivered to Mr. Buck by the city clerk on July 21, 1997, 3 days after Mr. Buck’s July 18, 1997 request. A copy of the delivered materials is attached for your review. I have been informed by employees of Hancock Bank and Trust Company that no other certificates exist. Based on the foregoing it is my opinion that there has been full disclosure of the information requested by Councilman Buck and that no violations of the Open Records Act have occurred.

Copies of eight documents were attached to the city attorney’s letter. At least some of the certificates of deposit specifically stated on the materials furnished to this office that they were renewed automatically. In addition, a letter to Mr. Buck from the bank’s vice president, dated August 11, 1997, set forth the bank’s notice procedure for "automatic renewal certificates of deposit."

KRS 61.872(1) provides in part that all public records, with some statutorily recognized exceptions, shall be open for inspection by any person. In this particular situation, Mr. Buck requested that he be furnished with copies of all of the certificates of deposit of the city kept in the lock box at the local bank. The city furnished him with copies of eight documents and indicated that no other certificates of deposit exist.

This office noted in OAG 89-81, copy enclosed, at page five, that the Open Records Act is intended to make available for inspection reasonably described records in the possession of a public agency. The Open Records Act, as stated in OAG 89-81, is not intended to serve as a comprehensive audit tool or as a means of commanding the compilation and production of specific information. In addition, this office has recognized that a public agency cannot afford a requester access to records which do not exist and it is not our duty to investigate in order to locate documents which do not exist. See 97-ORD 103, copy enclosed. Finally, as stated in 97-ORD-17, copy enclosed, "This office is a reviewer of the course of action taken by a public agency and not a finder of documents . . . for the party seeking to inspect such documents."

Thus, on the basis of the facts and materials made available to this office, it is our decision that the city did not violate the Open Records Act as the city promptly responded to the request for copies of all of the certificates of deposit of the city kept at the local bank by furnishing copies of eight documents which it said are all that exist.

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 he should not be named as a party in that action or in any subsequent proceeding.




Thomas R. Emerson

Assistant Attorney General

Copies of this decision

have been distributed to:

William H. Buck

100 Park Road

Hawesville KY 42348

John M. McCarty

Hawesville City Attorney

P.O. Box 189

Hawesville KY 42348