Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is a public record?
A: Currently, “public records” are defined as all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, tapes, photographs, films, sound recordings, data processing software or other material, regardless of the physical form, characteristics or means of transmission, made or received pursuant to law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official business by any agency.  (Florida Statute Section 119.011 (12) (2019))

The Florida Supreme Court has interpreted this definition to include “any material prepared in connection with official agency business which is intended to perpetuate, communicate, or formalize knowledge of some type.”  For example, computer records, e-mails, social media entries, tape recordings, text messages, voicemails and instant messages are public records when they are made or received by a city employee in connection with official city business and are used to perpetuate, communicate or formalize knowledge.

Q: Can I request to view or receive a copy of city records?
A: When city employees receive a public records request, they shall permit the requested records to be inspected and copied by any person desiring to do so, at any reasonable time, under reasonable conditions, and under supervision by the custodian (or designee) of the public records.  Inspection of records may be limited to the hours during which the office of the city employee is open to the public.  

Q: How can I request a public record?
A: You may submit a request in the following ways:

  • Online via the city’s public records web portal
  • Public records requests may also be submitted to any City department by email, telephone, mail or in person. For questions, please contact the City Clerk's Office at or 352-334-5015.
  • To request public records maintained by the Gainesville Police Department, please contact GPD at 352-393-7565 or visit the GPD website. Contact the Gainesville Police Department records division for accident reports, arrest reports and other police related records.

Requests to view public records do not have to be made in writing, but putting the records request in writing will assist staff in clarifying the exact scope of the request.

Q: Do I have to provide contact information to submit a request?
A: No, you may submit a records request anonymously. You are not required to identify yourself or provide a reason for requesting public records unless required by law (e.g., the records are confidential). However, providing your name and/or contact information will allow staff to follow up with you later.

Q: Is there a charge for public records?
A: Yes, employees shall charge for all copies of public records according to the rates allowable by Florida law and the city’s administrative procedure:

 Copy Type
 First ten (10) paper copies    
 Paper copies of not more than 8 1/2" x 14"        
 $0.15 per one-sided copy, or $0.20 per two-sided copy
 Certified copies of a public record   
 $1.00 per copy
 CDs and DVDs  
 $1.00 per disc
 All other copies  
 Actual cost of duplication

If the nature or volume of public records requested to be inspected or requires extensive use (more than 15 minutes) of resources or extensive clerical or supervisory assistance by the city employees involved, employees will charge a special service charge. The charge will be reasonable and shall be based on the cost of such extensive use of information technology resources or the labor cost of the city employees providing the service. The special service charge shall be computed to the nearest quarter of an hour exceeding 15 minutes based on the current rate of pay and benefits for the pay grade of the person who performed the service and will be assessed when appropriate regardless of the number of individual copies made.

The requestor will be notified of any and all potential charges associated with their public records request prior to inspection and copying. Payment of all charges must be received before copies will be made and provided.

Q: How soon will the city respond to my requested records?
A: Florida statutes do not contain a specific time limit for complying with public records requests. The city will acknowledge and respond to requests in good faith within a reasonable time allowing the custodian of the records to retrieve and redact any exemption portions of the records.

Q: Is the city required to create a new record or to provide information about the content of public records in response to a request?
A: No, Florida law does not require the city to reformat a record or create a new record to accommodate a request for information. Employees are not required to provide additional information or explanation about the record in response to a request.

Q: What types of records are not open for inspection or will not be provided to the public?
A: The Florida Statues provide a list of common records that are exempt from disclosure. For current information, see the Government in the Sunshine Manual, Florida Office of the Attorney General.