"It is the policy of the city to retain public records in accordance with Florida law. It is also the policy of the city to allow any person to access public records in accordance with Florida law. The Charter Officers shall adopt administrative procedures to implement the city’s Public Records Policy (G-5) and ensure that the city is in compliance with Florida’s public records law. (effective 5/6/10)"
What is a Public Record?
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.
Florida Law requires government agencies to provide public records in the format requested if the records already exist in that format. If not, a government agency is not required to convert public records to another format to fulfill a public records request.
Florida Law does not require the custodian of the record to provide explanations of information contained within public records.
Public Records Exemptions
State law has designated certain materials or information as exempt or confidential. If the public record contains confidential information, that information must be redacted before the remaining information can be released. Depending on the volume of records that require review for such exempt or confidential information, a special service charge may be assessed. To view what qualifies as an exemption, please view Florida's Government in the Sunshine Manual, as provided by the Florida Attorney General.
Cost for Public Records
Section 119.07, Florida Statutes authorizes local jurisdictions to impose a special service charge associated with extensive staff time and resources required for the provision of public records. Making records request as specific as possible will help staff to locate the record more quickly at lower cost.
Copies Special Service Charges
- Any person may inspect public records in the presence of a city employee (or designee), and he or she may tab, clip, or in some other form, identify which documents he or she would like copied. The employee will compute the cost of the requested copies and collect all copy costs from the person requesting copies of public records prior to making any copies.
- City employees shall charge for all copies of public records the rates allowable by Florida law, as may be amended; provided; however, that the first 10 copies per person shall be without charge. Currently, the rates allowable by Florida law and the city’s administrative procedure are as follows:
| 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 copied is such as to require extensive use (more than 15 minutes) of resources or extensive clerical or supervisory assistance by the city employees involved, employees will charge, in addition to copy costs, a special service charge, which shall be reasonable and shall be based on the cost incurred for such extensive use of information technology resources or the labor cost of the city employees providing the service that is actually incurred by the city or attributable to the city for the clerical and supervisory assistance required, or both. 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 lowest paid person who is capable of performing the service, and will be assessed when appropriate regardless of the number of individual copies made. Public records that city employees are able to locate and prepare in no more than 15 minutes will be provided to the requestor at no charge.
- The requestor will be notified of any and all potential charges associated with their public records request prior to inspection and copying. Prior to providing copies to the requestor and prior to using extensive information technology resources or staff time to respond to a public records request, the city will provide a written estimate of the charges to the requestor and the requestor must pay an advance deposit of all fees and charges to the city. If an estimate of charges is provided to the requestor and the requestor does not respond within 30 days, the city will not fulfill the request until payment is received. However, the city will provide any records compiled during the 15 minutes the city spent to locate, review and copy the requested material.