Chapter 1 Section 15

Section 1.15.  PUBLIC RECORDS.

(1)  Definitions.

[a] “Authority” means any of the following Village entities having custody of a Village record: an officer, elected official, agency, board, commission, committee, council, department or public body corporate and politic created by constitution, law, ordinance, rule or order; or a formally constituted sub-unit of the foregoing.

[b]  “Custodian” means that officer, department head, division head, or employee of the Village designated under sub. (3) or otherwise responsible by law to keep and preserve any Village records or file, deposit or keep such records in his or her office, or is lawfully in possession or entitled to possession of such public record and who is required by this section to respond to requests for access to such records.

[c]  “Record” means any material on which written, drawn, printed spoken, visual or electromagnetic information is recorded, or preserved, regardless of physical form or characteristics, which has been created or is being kept by an authority.  “Record” includes, but is not limited to, handwritten, typed or printed pages, maps, charts, photographs, films, recordings, tapes (including computer tapes) and computer printouts.  “Record” does not include drafts, notes, preliminary computations and like materials prepared for the originator’s personal use or prepared by the originator in the name of a person for whom the originator is working; materials which are purely the personal property of the custodian and have no relation to his or her office; materials to which access is limited by copyright, patent or bequest; and published materials in the possession of an authority other than a public library which are available for inspection at a public library.

(2)  Duty to Maintain Records.

[a]     Except as otherwise provided by law, each officer and employee of the Village shall safely keep and preserve all records received from his or her predecessor or other persons and required by law to be filed, deposited or kept in his or her office or which are in the lawful possession or control of the officer or employee or his or her deputies, or to the possession or control of which he or she or they may be lawfully entitled as such officer or employees.

[b]  Upon the expiration of an officer’s term of office or an employee’s term of employment, or whenever the office or position of employment becomes vacant, each such officer or employee shall deliver to his or her successor all records then in his or her custody and the successor shall receipt therefor to the officer or employee, who shall file said receipt with the Village Clerk.  If a vacancy occurs before a successor is selected or qualifies, such records shall be delivered to and receipted for by the Clerk, on behalf of the successor, to be delivered to such successor upon the latter’s receipt.

(3)  Legal Custodian(s).

[a]  The Village Clerk, or in his or her absence or disability or in case of vacancy, the Acting Clerk, is hereby designated the legal custodian of all Village records with the exception that the Chief of the Police and Fire Departments, or in his absence, the officer in charge of the Departments, is hereby designated the legal custodian of all records of said departments.

[b]  Each legal custodian shall name a person to act as legal custodian in his or her absence or the absence of his or her designee.

[c]  The legal custodian shall have full legal power to render decisions and carry out the duties of an authority under sub. ch. II of ch. 19, Stats., and this section.  The designation of a legal custodian does not affect the powers and duties of an authority under this section.

(4)  Public Access to Records.

[a]  Except as provided in sub. (6), any person has a right to inspect a record and to make or receive a copy of any record, as provided in Section 19.35(1), Stats.

[b]  Records will be available for inspection and copying during all regular office hours.

[c]  A requester shall be permitted to use facilities comparable to those available to Village employees to inspect, copy or abstract a record.

[d]  The legal custodian may require supervision during inspection or may impose other reasonable restrictions on the manner of access to an original record if the record is irreplaceable or easily damaged.

[e]  A requester shall be charged a fee to defray the cost of locating and copying records as follows:

  1. The cost of photocopying shall be $1.00 for the first page, plus .20 cents for each additional page. Said cost has been calculated not to exceed the actual, necessary and direct cost of reproduction.
  1. If the form of a written record does not permit copying, the actual and necessary cost of photographing and photographic processing shall be charged.
  1. The actual full cost of providing a copy of other records not in printed form on paper, such as films, computer printouts and audio or video tapes shall be charged.
  1. If mailing or shipping is necessary, the actual cost thereof shall also be charged.
  1. There shall be no charge for locating a record unless the actual cost therefor exceeds $50.00, in which case the actual cost shall be determined by the legal custodian and billed to the requester.
  1. The legal custodian shall estimate the cost of all applicable fees and may require a cash deposit adequate to assure payment, if such estimate exceeds $5.00.
  1. Elected and appointed officials of the Village of River Hills shall not be required to pay for public records they may reasonably require for the proper performance of their official duties.
  1. The legal custodian may provide copies of a record without charge or at a reduced charge where he or she determines that waiver or reduction of the fee is in the public interest.

[f]  Pursuant to Section 19.34, Stats., and the guidelines therein listed, each authority shall adopt, prominently display and make available for inspection and copying at its offices, for the guidance of the public, a notice containing a description of its organization and the established times and places at which, the legal custodian from whom, and the methods whereby the public may obtain information and access to records in its custody, make requests for records, or obtain copies of records, and the costs thereof.  Each authority shall also prominently display at its offices, for the guidance of the public, a copy of subs. (4) through (6) of this ordinance.  This subsection does not apply to members of the Village Board.

(5)  Access Procedures.

[a]  A request to inspect or copy a record shall be made to the legal custodian.  A request shall be deemed sufficient if it reasonably describes the requested record or the information requested.  However, a request for a record without a reasonable limitation as to subject matter or length of time represented by the record does not constitute a sufficient request.  A request may be made orally, but a request must be in writing before an action to enforce the request is commenced under Section 19.37, Stats.  Except as provided below, no request may be refused because the person making the request is unwilling to be identified or to state the purpose of the request.  No request may be refused because the request is received by mail, unless prepayment of a fee is required under sub. (4)(e) 6.  A requester may be required to show acceptable identification whenever the requested record is kept at a private residence or whenever security reasons or federal law or regulations so require.

[b]  Each custodian, upon request for any record, shall, as soon as practicable and without delay, either fill the request or notify the requester of the authority’s determination to deny the request in whole or in part and the reasons therefor.  If the legal custodian, after conferring with the Village Attorney, determines that a written request is so general as to be unduly time consuming, the party making the request may first be required to itemize his or her request in a manner which would permit reasonable compliance.

[c]  A request for a record may be denied as provided in sub (6).  If a request is made orally, the request may be denied orally unless a demand for a written statement of the reasons denying the request is made by the requester within five (5) business days of the oral denial.  If a written request is denied in whole or in part, the requester shall receive a written statement of the reasons for denying the request.  Every written denial of a request shall inform the requester that if the request for the record were made in writing, then the determination is subject to review upon petition for a writ of mandamus under Section 19.37(1), Stats., or upon application to the attorney general or a district attorney.

(6)  Limitations on Right to Access.

[a]   As provided by Section 19.36 Stats., the following records are exempt from inspection under this section:

  1. Records specifically exempted from disclosure by state or federal law or authorized to be exempted from disclosure by state law;
  1. Any record relating to investigative information obtained for law enforcement purposes if federal law or regulations require exemption from disclosure or if exemption from disclosure is a condition to receipt of aids by the state;
  1. Computer programs, although the material used as input for a computer program or the material produced as a product of the computer program is subject to inspection; and
  1. A record or any portion of a record containing information qualifying as a common law trade secret.

[b]  As provided by Section 43.30, Stats., public library circulation records are exempt from inspection under this section.

[c]  In responding to a request for inspection or copying of a record which is not specifically exempt from disclosure, the legal custodian, after conferring with the Village Attorney, may deny the request in whole or in part, only if he or she determines that the harm to the public interest resulting from disclosure would outweigh the public interest in full access to the requested record.  Examples of matters for which disclosure may be refused include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Records obtained under official pledges of confidentiality which were necessary and given in order to obtain the information contained in them.
  1. Records of current deliberations after a quasi-judicial hearing.
  1. Records of current deliberations concerning employment, dismissal, promotion, demotion, compensation, performance, or discipline of any Village Officer or employee, unless such officer or employee consents to such disclosure.
  1. Records concerning current strategy for crime detection or prevention.
  1. Records of current deliberations or negotiations on the purchase of Village property, investing of Village funds or other Village business whenever competitive or bargaining reasons require nondisclosure.
  1. Financial, medical, social or personal histories or disciplinary data of specific persons which, if disclosed, would likely to have a substantial adverse effect upon the reputation of any person referred to in such history or data.
  1. Communications between legal counsel for the Village and any officer, agent or employee of the Village, when advice is being rendered concerning strategy with respect to current litigation in which the Village or any of its officers, agents or employees is or is likely to become involved, or communications which are privileged under Section 905.03, Stats.

[d]  If a record contains information that may be made public and information that may not be made public, the custodian of the record shall provide the information that may be made public and delete the information that may not be made public from the record before release.  The custodian shall confer with the Village Attorney prior to releasing any such record and shall follow the guidance of the Village Attorney when separating out the exempt material.  If in the judgment of the custodian and the Village Attorney there is no feasible way to separate the exempt material from the non-exempt material without unreasonably jeopardizing nondisclosure of the exempt material, the entire record shall be withheld from disclosure.

(7)  Preservation Through Microfilm.  Any Village officer, or the department head of any department of Village government may, subject to the approval of the Village Board, keep and preserve public records in his or her possession by means of microfilm or other photographic reproduction methods.  Such records shall meet the standards for photographic reproduction set forth in Section 16.61(7)(a) and (b) Stats., and shall be considered original records for all purposes.  Such records shall be preserved along with other files of the department or division and shall be open to public inspection and copying according to the provisions of state law and of subs (4) through (6) of this ordinance.

(8)  Severability.  The provisions of this ordinance are severable.  If a section, subsection, paragraph, sentence, clause or phrase shall be adjudged by a Court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, the decision shall not affect the validity of this ordinance.

Phone: (414) 352-8213
River Hills, WI 53217
7650 N. Pheasant Lane