Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions:
What type of record is provided regarding any check written?
The check registers include the check number, vendor name, check date, and the check amount. The checks are divided into three groups, with the primary checking account being the general account. We keep them separate based on bank codes. This also permits us to remove from the list those checks which may contain sensitive personal information, about employees or private citizens. If the check you request information about includes any of that information, we will confirm with the state rules as to its availability to be made public. If it cannot, we will let you know; otherwise, we are an open book, transparent as your government should be in its dealings and services.
How do I make a public information request for a specific check?
We have provided a form that you may submit electronically. You will need to submit the form to City Hall. All requests must be in writing. The form permits you to request one check at a time. If you need to request more than one check at a time, please submit your request in writing to firstname.lastname@example.org and provide the information as noted on the form. If you just want an answer to “what was this for?” we will provide it to you in a return email. If you want copies, there may be a charge for paper copies. If the request is lengthy, there may also be labor charges. If there is a cost involved, we require a deposit upfront before the copies are made. Settlement will be at the time the request is delivered to you. Each transaction includes the description of the expense line where it was recorded; these descriptions may answer most of your questions.
How long should it take to receive a response to my request for information about a check?
The Open Records Act provides that we respond "promptly" to a request for information. We will contact you as soon as we have the answer which should be fairly quickly. We do have ten days, but if we cannot produce the requested information within ten business days, we will notify you and will set a date and time when the information will be provided.
In addition to the questions posed and answered above, the following questions and answers from the web site of the Texas Attorney General are provided to assist you. Some of the responses and procedures may be different, as we are dealing with only one specific subject (checks); please refer to the above requirements if there is a conflict.
What types of records are subject to the Public Information Act?
Any information collected, assembled, or maintained by or for a governmental body is subject to the Public Information Act. The format (paper, electronic, microfilm, etc.) of the record does not affect its status as a public record.
How do I make a public information request?
The request must be in writing and must be addressed to the governmental body. While the request does not need to be addressed to any particular person, it is a good practice to clearly label your correspondence as a "Public Information Request" or "Open Records Request." Requests sent via fax must be addressed to the public information officer or to the person designated by that officer to receive such requests. You can email public information requests to the City Secretary.
What should I say in my public information request?
No "magic language" is required to trigger the Public Information Act. You should, however, make the request as clear and as specific as possible. This will enable the governmental body to identify exactly what information you are requesting.
How long does the governmental body have to respond to my request for information?
The Act provides that a governmental body must respond "promptly" to a request for information. If a governmental body is unable to produce the requested information within ten business days, the officer for public information must send you correspondence certifying that he is unable to do so and he must set a date and time when the records will be available to you.
May a governmental body ask me why I want the records?
No, a governmental body is forbidden from inquiring about the purpose for which the records will be used. However, if a request is unclear or very broad, the governmental body may ask the requestor to more clearly identify or narrow his or her request. Additionally, a governmental body may require additional identifying information to determine that the requestor is eligible to receive certain types of information.
When may a governmental body refuse to release the information I request?
If the information you request falls within one of the exceptions to disclosure found in the Public Information Act, the governmental body may refuse to release the information while it seeks an open records decision from the Attorney General. Unless the governmental body has a previous determination from a court or the Attorney General regarding the precise information requested, a governmental body cannot determine on its own to withhold information.
What procedures must be followed if a governmental body wishes to withhold information?
Within ten business days of receiving a written request, the governmental body must:
write the Attorney General, asking for a decision and state which exceptions apply to the requested information;
provide the requestor with a written statement that the governmental body wishes to withhold the information and that it has asked the Attorney General for a decision;
provide the requestor with a copy of the governmental body's correspondence to the Attorney General; and
make a good faith attempt to notify, in the form prescribed by the Attorney General, any affected third parties of the request.
Within fifteen business days of receiving your request, the governmental body must:
For more information concerning the Public Information Act please feel free to visit:
Texas Attorney General Open Government Page at https://www.oag.state.tx.us/open/requestors.shtml