Joliet, IL. (ECWd) -
Last week we sued Joliet Township for failing to provide requested public records, and for their attempt at charging us unauthorized fees. Both are violations of the Illinois Freedom Of Information Act.
Joliet Township received a request for public records on June 9, 2020. They responded by imposing an unauthorized fee of $300 for someone to be onsite to copy the files to an external hard drive.
Section 6 of the FOIA specifically grants authority for fees, and what a public body may and may not charge to the requester:
a) When a person requests a copy of a record maintained in an electronic format, the public body shall furnish it in the electronic format specified by the requester, if feasible. If it is not feasible to furnish the public records in the specified electronic format, then the public body shall furnish it in the format in which it is maintained by the public body, or in paper format at the option of the requester. A public body may charge the requester for the actual cost of purchasing the recording medium, whether disc, diskette, tape, or other medium. If a request is not a request for a commercial purpose or a voluminous request, a public body may not charge the requester for the costs of any search for and review of the records or other personnel costs associated with reproducing the records. Except to the extent that the General Assembly expressly provides, statutory fees applicable to copies of public records when furnished in a paper format shall not be applicable to those records when furnished in an electronic format.
Joliet Township tried charging an additional $300 to place the requested records onto a $50 external hard drive.
Since the Edgar County Watchdogs is media, as that term is defined in Illinois law, Joliet Township could not classify the request as voluminous, nor as a commercial request.
In addition to the fee issue, Joliet Township failed to produce additional records, not part of the data placed on the hard drive.
We are asking for the requested records, a declaration that Joliet Township violated the FOIA, civil penalties, and costs/attorney fees.
Complaint HERE or below: