FOIA Rights and Responsiblities

Rights & Responsibilities:

The Rights of Requesters and the Responsibilities of the Town of Remington

under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act

The Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), located at § 2.2-3700 et seq. of the Code

of Virginia, guarantees citizens of the Commonwealth and representatives of the media

access to public records held by public bodies, public officials, and public employees.

A public record is any writing or recording — regardless of whether it is a paper record, an

electronic file, an audio or video recording, or any other format — that is prepared or owned

by, or in the possession of a public body or its officers, employees or agents in the

transaction of public business. All public records are presumed to be open, and may only be

withheld if a specific statutory exemption applies.

The policy of FOIA states that the purpose of FOIA is to promote an increased awareness

by all persons of governmental activities. In furthering this policy, FOIA requires that the

law be interpreted liberally, in favor of access, and that any exemption allowing public

records to be withheld must be interpreted narrowly.

Your FOIA Rights

• You have the right to request to inspect or receive copies of public records, or both.

• You have the right to request that any charges for the requested records be estimated in advance.

• If you believe that your FOIA rights have been violated, you may file a petition in

district or circuit court to compel compliance with FOIA. Alternatively, you may

contact the FOIA Council for a nonbinding advisory opinion.

Making a Request for records from the Town of Remington

• You may request records by U.S. Mail, fax, e-mail, in person, or over the phone.

FOIA does not require that your request be in writing, nor do you need to

specifically state that you are requesting records under FOIA.

From a practical perspective, it may be helpful to both you and the person

receiving your request to put your request in writing. This allows you to

create a record of your request. It also gives us a clear statement of what

records you are requesting, so that there is no misunderstanding over a verbal

request. However, we cannot refuse to respond to your FOIA request if you

elect to not put it in writing.

• Your request must identify the records you are seeking with “reasonable specificity.”

This is a common-sense standard. It does not refer to or limit the volume or

number of records that you are requesting; instead, it requires that you be specific

enough so that we can identify and locate the records that you are seeking.

• Your request must ask for existing records or documents. FOIA gives you a right to

inspect or copy records; it does not apply to a situation where you are asking general

questions about the work of the Town of Remington, nor does it require the Town

of Remington to create a record that does not exist.

• You may choose to receive electronic records in any format used by the Town of

Remington in the regular course of business.

For example, if you are requesting records maintained in an Excel database,

you may elect to receive those records electronically, via e-mail or on a

computer disk, or to receive a printed copy of those records

• If we have questions about your request, please cooperate with staff’s efforts to

clarify the type of records that you are seeking, or to attempt to reach a reasonable

agreement about a response to a large request. Making a FOIA request is not an

adversarial process, but we may need to discuss your request with you to ensure that

we understand what records you are seeking.

To request records from the Town of Remington, you may direct your request to

Kim Bowrin or Carol Stalter, the FOIA Officers. They can be reached at:

Town Remington

203 East Main Street

Remington, Virginia 22734

540-439-3220

540-439-9702

townofremington@verizon.net

You may also contact either of them with questions you have concerning requesting records

from the Town of Remington. In addition, the Freedom of Information Advisory Council

is available to answer any questions you may have about FOIA. The Council may be

contacted by e-mail at foiacouncil@dls.virginia.gov, or by phone at (804) 225-3056 or [toll

free] 1-866-448-4100.

The Town of Remington Responsibilities in Responding to Your Request

• The Town of Remington must respond to your request within five working days of

receiving it. “Day One” is considered the business day after your request is received.

The five-day period does not include weekends or holidays.

• The reason behind your request for public records from the Town of Remington is

irrelevant, and you do not have to state why you want the records before we respond

to your request. FOIA does, however, allow the Town of Remington to require you

to provide your name and legal address.

• FOIA requires that the Town of Remington make one of the following responses to

your request within the five-day time period:

1) We provide you with the records that you have requested in their entirety.

2) We withhold all of the records that you have requested, because all of the

records are subject to a specific statutory exemption. If all of the records are

being withheld, we must send you a response in writing. That writing must

identify the volume and subject matter of the records being withheld, and

state the specific section of the Code of Virginia that allows us to withhold

the records.

3) We provide some of the records that you have requested, but withhold other

records. We cannot withhold an entire record if only a portion of it is

subject to an exemption. In that instance, we may redact the portion of the

record that may be withheld, and must provide you with the remainder of the

record. We must provide you with a written response stating the specific

section of the Code of Virginia that allows portions of the requested records

to be withheld.

4) We inform you in writing that the requested records cannot be found or do

not exist (we do not have the records you want). However, if we know that

another public body has the requested records, we must include contact

information for the other public body in our response to you.

5) If it is practically impossible for the Town of Remington to respond to your

request within the five-day period, we must state this in writing, explaining

the conditions that make the response impossible. This will allow us seven

additional working days to respond to your request, giving us a total of 12

working days to respond to your request.

• If you make a request for a very large number of records, and we feel that we cannot

provide the records to you within 12 working days without disrupting our other

organizational responsibilities, we may petition the court for additional time to

respond to your request. However, FOIA requires that we make a reasonable effort

to reach an agreement with you concerning the production or the records before we

go to court to ask for more time.

• The Town of Remington may make reasonable charges not to exceed its actual cost

incurred in accessing, duplicating, supplying, or searching for the requested records.

No public body shall impose any extraneous, intermediary, or surplus fees or

expenses to recoup the general costs associated with creating or maintaining records

or transacting the general business of the public body. Any duplicating fee charged

by a public body shall not exceed the actual cost of duplication. All charges for the

supplying of requested records shall be estimated in advance at the request of the

citizen as set forth in subsection F of § 2.2-3704 of the Code of Virginia.

• You may have to pay for the records that you request from the Town of Remington.

FOIA allows us to charge for the actual costs of responding to FOIA requests. This

would include items like staff time spent searching for the requested records, copying

costs, or any other costs directly related to supplying the requested records. It

cannot include general overhead costs.

• If we estimate that it will cost more than $200 to respond to your request, we may

require you to pay a deposit, not to exceed the amount of the estimate, before

proceeding with your request. The five days that we have to respond to your request

does not include the time between when we ask for a deposit and when you respond.

• You may request that we estimate in advance the charges for supplying the records

that you have requested. This will allow you to know about any costs upfront, or

give you the opportunity to modify your request in an attempt to lower the estimated

costs.

• If you owe us money from a previous FOIA request that has remained unpaid for

more than 30 days, the Town of Remington may require payment of the past-due bill

before it will respond to your new FOIA request.

Types of records

The following is a general description of the types of records held by the Town of Remington:

• Contracts

•Annual budget

• Ordinances & Resolutions of the Town Council

•Minutes of meetings of the Town Council

If you are unsure whether the Town of Remington has the record(s) you seek, please contact

Kim Bowrin or Carol Stalter

directly at:

Town Remington

203 East Main Street

Remington, Virginia 22734

540-439-3220

540-439-9702

townofremington@verizon.net

Commonly used exemptions

The Code of Virginia allows any public body to withhold certain records from public

disclosure as permitted by law. For example, the Town of Remington may withhold records

subject to the following exemptions:

• Personnel records (§ 2.2-3705.1 (1) of the Code of Virginia)

• Records subject to attorney-client privilege (§ 2.2-3705.1 (2)) or attorney work

product (§ 2.2-3705.1 (3))

• Vendor proprietary information (§ 2.2-3705.1 (6))

• Records relating to the negotiation and award of a contract, prior to a contract being

awarded (§ 2.2-3705.1 (12))

This list of exemptions is not intended to be exhaustive and the Town of Remington may

invoke other exemptions, as permitted by law, depending upon the circumstances.

Policy regarding the use of exemptions

The general policy of the Town of Remington is to invoke the exemptions permitted by

FOIA in strict accordance with FOIA. In other words, exemptions are narrowly construed.