Editorial: Transparency’s high fee

Colorado Springs Independent: How much would you be willing to pay to use something you’ve already bought? It’s a strange question, but it seems some government entities are betting the answer is, “not much.” 

A few weeks ago, we editorialized about the importance of open records. Tax payer-funded documents — whether they be emails from official accounts, arrest records, minutes from governmental proceedings or even copies of a municipality’s checkbook — are considered public domain, and you have the right to request access to and copies of them. 

There are a few notable exceptions: A police department isn’t obligated to release documentation related to an ongoing investigation, for example, but generally speaking, as long the documents aren’t deemed hazardous to the public good, if you ask for ’em, you get ’em. 

But the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) and the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) both allow governmental agencies to charge for the release of those documents. The intention is to cover the researching and copying costs.

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