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September 03, 2008
CB Council will institute new FOIA policies
COLONIAL BEACH, Virginia (STPNS) -- The Town of Colonial Beach is in the process of creating new FOIA policies. A draft of the new procedures reporters and citizens will adhere to were distributed to the public during last Thursday?s Town Council work session.
Gone is the relaxed environment of 1980, when land surveying crews would take refuse from sudden thunderstorms in the unfinished upstairs of the Town Hall to calculate stadia reading or transit angles turned before returning to the field at the conclusion of the passing summer storm.
The Town Manager and Colonial Beach Mayo now occupy that upstairs Town Hall space. Past Colonial Beach Mayor Pete Bone converted the once open area that fronts North Irving Avenue into the respective Mayoral and Town Manager?s offices. Bone also performed the drywalling and finishing work on Colonial Beach town Center?s Pete Bone meeting room.
On July 1 former Maryland state lawmaker Fred Rummage assumed the town?s Mayoral duties. Rummage?s campaign pledge of delivering a more open and transparent local government is being realized with an enforcement of greater discipline, beginning in the work place.
The draft document distributed during last week?s Town Council work session carries the title, Administrative Policy # 1-08 and its first consideration is formal designation of public areas in the Town Hall.
?The area adjacent to the receptionist?s desk at Town Hall and the counter area in the Treasurer?s office at Town Hall are public areas and during regular business hours, are open to the public,? the circulated document relates.
?Private work areas, for staff such as the Town Manager?s office, the Town Clerk?s office, the Mayor?s office and all other work areas for staff at Town Hall are not public areas,,? it notes.
?Due to the space constraints at Town Hall, citizens having business to conduct at Town Hall are invited to conduct their business at Town Hall in areas designated for the public. Loitering at Town Hall is not permitted.?
Next comes a new protocal described as the ?process for making and picking up documents related to requests for information pursuant to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
?All persons seeking,? the policy states, ?to access public documents belonging to the town of Colonial Beach may do so in accordance with the following procedures:
?A. Citizens wishing to come to Town Hall to make a request for public documents may do so by orally making a request to the receptionist or by making a written request on the Town?s form and providing that to the receptionist.
?Due to time constraints and the workload of staff at Town Hall, citizens will not be permitted to come to Town Hall and wait for documents to be provided. Citizens may request that town staff notify them when the requested documents are ready for pick up or the documents may be mailed, emailed, or faxed to the citizen.
?B. Should a citizen wish to review documents located at Town Hall, a citizen should make the request for documents and provide contact information so that town staff may contact the citizen to arrange a time to review the requested documents. No food or drink is permitted to be consumed while reviewing documents.
?Citizens are permitted to review documents at Town Hall, by appointment, in a designated area. Documents are not to be torn, damaged or disfigured in any way. Once a review of documents is complete, all documents are to be returned to the Clerk of the Colonial Beach Town Council.
?C. At all times, citizens are expected to conduct themselves in a civilized and courteous manner when interacting with town staff. Interruptions and interference with the normal operation of the office will not be tolerated. Cursing, yelling, and/or abusive or harassing behavior will not be tolerated and anyone engaging in such behavior will be asked to leave Town Hall.
?A copy of these procedures will be attached to each request form requested. It will therefore be presumed that the person applying understands and accepts the conditions herein.
?Should the request be verbal only, the receptionist will fill out a FOIA form based on the information provided and filed with the Town Clerk.?
The next section of the distributed document addresses costs associated with production and copying of requested documents.
?In accordance,? it states, ?with the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, citizens will be charged the actual cost of providing access to and/or copies of documents. If a document is estimated to be in excess of $200.00, a citizen may be asked to make a deposit before the Town proceeds with the processing of a request for documents.?
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