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Middle Inlet Board Sets Record Request Policy

Issue Date: October 3, 2019

By action of Middle Inlet Town Board at a special meeting at 9 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 26, the Town Clerk is officially designated the Custodian of Public Records for the Town, anyone requesting copies of town documents under Wisconsin Open Records laws may be charged a fee equal to the cost of locating and copying the documents.

In other action at the meeting, the board designated the Town Clerk as the town's authorized representative to apply for recycling funding, authorized sale of some excess fire department equipment, and agreed to do some needed improvements on Wayside Road this year, using funds that had been designated for the culvert project on Camp 5 Road.

Town Chair Richard Wade had explained at the board's regular meeting on Sept. 12 that the Camp 5 culvert replacement had to meet some special requirements set by the DNR because it involves a Class A trout stream.

At the special meeting on Sept. 26, Wade suggested applying funds for that project in this years budget to another needed road. He presented a proposal from Richlen Excavating for improving 2,640 feet of Wayside Road between Boat Landing Road and Pleasant Road, which Wade said can no longer be patched. Proposed cost would be $19,978 for scarifying, grading, and compacting limestone, and covering the roadway with 4" of " limestone. Supervisor Ron Wenzel made a motion to accept the estimate and initiate the project. The motion was seconded by Supervisor Donald Van and carried.

In response to a request from Middle Inlet Fire Department, Wenzel proposed that the Fire Department be authorized to sell a boat, trailer, and outboard motor which it no longer uses. Members of the Fire Department had voted to sell the items to increase their revenues and free up storage.

Wade said the town should request bids, with a request for bids to be placed in the Peshtigo Times. Wenzel stated that if the outboard motor did not sell, a local merchant would take the motor on consignment. Wenzel moved to approve sale of the equipment listed, Van seconded, and the motion carried.

Town Clerk Virginia Hines told the board that in order for her to submit the Recycling Grant application to the DNR, a representative from the town would have to be designated to act as its authorized representative, and a resolution must be approved, with a copy forwarded to DNR. In the past the Board had adopted a resolution that designated the former clerk by name. Hines said the DNR recommends that these resolutions be position specific versus individual specific due to turnover, and presented a sample resolution recommended by the DNR.

Wade read aloud the resolution which stated that the town requests financial assistance for the purpose of planning, constructing or operating a recycling program and authorizes the Town Clerk to act as its authorized representative to submit the grant application to the DNR, sign necessary documents and submit a final report. The resolution was unanimously approved.

Final item on the agenda was adopting a resolution or policy to designate the Clerk as the Custodian of Public Records of Town of Middle Inlet.

Wade stated that given the continuing Open Records requests, he was advised by legal counsel to identify a Custodian of Public Records for the Town, and the logical person for handling records request would be the clerk. Therefore he proposed Resolution 2019-02 which delegates the responsibility for Open Record requests and the processes to the clerk. He also suggested a policy that provides guidance to requestors and the town about the processes of those Open Records requests. Both the resolution and the accompanying policy were approved by the board without dissent. Resolution 2019-02

The adopted Public Records Policy states:

"The Wisconsin public records law, Wis. Stat. 19.31൛.39, authorizes requesters to inspect or obtain copies of "records" maintained by government "authorities". Records are presumed to be open to inspection and copying, but there are some exceptions. Requirements of the public records law apply to records that exist at the time a public records request is made. The public records law does not require authorities to provide requested information if no responsive record exists, and generally does not require authorities to create new records in order to fulfill public records requests. The public records statutes do not address the general duty to retain records. Open Records requests must be made to the Custodian of Public Records.

"The Board of Supervisors of the Town of Middle Inlet has designated the Town Clerk/Treasurer as the Custodian of Public Records of the Town of Middle Inlet.

"Members of the public may obtain access to the Town of Middle Inlet Public Records, or obtain copies of these records, by making a request of Middle Inlet's Custodian of Public Records via verbal, written, or digital communication. Such requests should be made to:

"Clerk/Treasurer, Town of Middle Inlet, W9701 County Road X, Middle Inlet, WI 54114, by email clerk@middleinlet.org, by telephone, or in person," and concludes:

"The law permits the Town to impose fees for certain "actual, necessary and direct" costs associated with responding to public records requests. Requests which exceed a total cost of $5.00 may require prepayment. Copies of records may be retrieved during the established operational hours of the Office of the Clerk or via postal or digital mail. All fees are due upon receipt of the requested records."  


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