Cost to fill open-records requests in Colorado Springs plunges in 2013

From the Colorado Springs Independent: Earlier this year, Mayor Steve Bach’s administration began charging citizens and media for public records, citing “voluminous and frivolous” requests that allegedly cost Colorado Springs taxpayers more than $200,000 in staff time in 2012. In the almost seven months since that policy change, the city’s costs have dropped to less than $6,000, while citizens and media have paid about $1,400.

But that financial “win” for administrators raises questions for Luis Toro, director of the nonprofit watchdog group Colorado Ethics Watch.

For one thing, the small 2013 numbers could mean the city’s 2012 figure was inflated. (City chief communications officer Cindy Aubrey says the $200,000 figure came from the City Attorney’s Office based on employee timesheets, but she was unable to provide documentation before deadline.)

Or, Toro says, they could mean the fees have discouraged people from seeking records. For one thing, city officials have said people are entitled to a free estimate on their requests, and they insist that remains true. But Toro notes that the city’s online form asked him to promise to pay before he knew how much he’d be paying.

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