Crystal updates FOIA policies

By Cory Smith • Last Updated 8:36 pm on Friday, March 17, 2017

CRYSTAL TOWNSHIP — The Crystal Township Board has updated its policies regarding the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) due to increasing FOIA requests at the township office.

During the board’s March 8 meeting, Clerk Patty Baker-Marek requested the board move forward in establishing an official FOIA coordinator for the township.

“It usually falls on the clerk, because we like paper,” she said with a laugh.

Baker-Marek said she recently handled a large FOIA request that involved several hours of her time She requested the township reimburse her for time spent on requests of that nature.

“I’m asking, since it’s not part of my statutory responsibilities, to be compensated for large FOIA requests that I get,” she said. “If I get something that takes a couple hours, I’d like to be compensated.”

Baker-Marek said she would like to receive the rate of $9 an hour, which is the pay rate of the lowest-paid employee in the township who could handle processing a FOIA request.

With the subject of FOIA in discussion, Trustee Curt McCracken said he would like to see the rate the township charges per physical copies of documents increased.

With the rate at 3 cents per page, members of the board were in agreement the rate should be raised.

“I think that’s really low,” Baker-Marek said. “Especially when it’s going to cost $125 to get the copy machine fixed.”

Trustee George Bahm said he wasn’t aware of any organizations that charged as low as the township was charging.

“The cheapest I’ve seen in the last five years is probably 25 cents,” he said.

McCracken made a motion to establish Baker-Marek as the township’s FOIA coordinator, provide a $9-per-hour compensation for large FOIA request, and increase the charge for copies regarding FOIA requests to 50 cents per page.

But Supervisor Chris Johnston was hesitant to increase the rate so dramatically.

“I don’t disagree that 3 cents a sheet is anywhere near right, but going from 3 cents to 50 cents all at one time, I think that’s excessive,” he said. “I’d be more agreeable 15 cents, 20 cents, or 10 cents.”

McCracken amended his motion to reduce the fee to 25 cents per page, and it was passed unanimously.

However, during public comment, The Daily News brought it to the board’s attention that in passing the motion, it was violating state law.

“It’s state law, for governing bodies, they cannot go past 10 cents per copy for FOIA requests,” said Daily News senior staff writer Cory Smith. “It was signed into law by Gov. (Rick) Snyder in 2015.”

Upon receiving this information, Johnston motioned that the board amend its previous motion from $0.25 to $0.10, which passed unanimously.

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