Battle to get a budget

Some of Shrewsbury Township’s supervisors have been grumpy about the state’s new open records law.

They say residents are abusing it, creating too much work for office staff. They are also unhappy with the 25 cents per-page fee, saying it is not enough to cover actual costs. In an effort to make that point the township is taking the time to post all the records requests online.

I filed a request for budgets that was only partially filled until I complained.

Click on the jump to read the actual e-mails I exchanged with the Shrewsbury Township Right-to-Know Officer. It’s a fun read.


Here is the e-mail exchange that I had to go through in order to get copies of approved budgets from Shrewsbury Township:

—– Original Message —–
From: “Nichole Dobo” <ndobo@ydr.com>
To: “Jodi Grove” <jodi@shrewsburytownship.org>
Cc: <earlschuckman@verizon.net>
Sent: Thursday, March 05, 2009 10:44 AM
Subject: Records you sent

Hello,

The records you sent are incomplete. I am looking at a hodgepodge of
proposed and final  budgets, in all different forms.

For instance, the 2004 budget sent to me is a proposed budget. I assume you
have finalized a budget year that occurred six years ago. Correct me if I am
wrong in that assumption.

Rather than appeal this to the state, can you please rectify this by just
sending finalized budgets in the same format that the 2003 budget you sent
is in? Also, there is no reason to stamp the word “copy” on each page. No
other agency I have ever dealt with (federal, state or local) does that. It
just wastes your staff’s paid time.

Also, I noted there was no contract included for E. Mike Lee or his company.
Am I correct in surmising he worked all those years without a contract?

Thank you for your attention to these details. Also, I am still awaiting a
invoice so I can settle the remainder of the postage bill. If you propose to
charge me again to replace the incomplete budgets you sent, please notify me
before incurring any expense.

Sincerely,

Nichole Dobo

Nichole Dobo
Staff Writer
York Daily Record/Sunday News
(717) 771-2032
————-
—–Original Message—–
From: Jodi Grove [mailto:jodi@shrewsburytownship.org]
Sent: 03/05/2009 4:07 PM
To: Nichole Dobo
Subject: Re: Records you sent

Nichole:

Please see the attached letter.

Jodi Grove
Municipal Secretary/Open Records Officer
Shrewsbury Township

(Attached letter:)

Dear Ms. Dobo:

The Shrewsbury Township Office received your e-mail today regarding your Record Request Form #D-02022009.  You requested the following items:

(1) “Budgets for fiscal years 2003-04 through current.”

Our office has provided all the information that you requested on February 3, 2009 in the form in which it exists in our files.  Our office is not allowed to create a new document.  All budgets are approved by motion of the Board of Supervisors at a public meeting each year.  Minutes are available on the Township’s website.  If you require hard copies of these minutes, please submit another Record Request Form.

(2) “Contracts for contracted services 2003-04 through current.”

Our office has supplied all of the requested information.  EML, Inc. is appointed by Resolution, by motion, by the Board of Supervisors at a public meeting each year.  Minutes are available on the Township’s website.  If you require hard copies of these minutes, please submit another Record Request Form.

As far as our office sending you an invoice for the remainder of the postage bill, as a courtesy the Township is satisfied with your payment of the regular postage.

For the procedure to appeal as per Act 3 of 2008, please refer to the enclosed Open Records Policy.

Sincerely,

Jodi Grove
Municipal Secretary/Open Records Officer
Shrewsbury Township
———————————

—– Original Message —–
From: “Nichole Dobo” <ndobo@ydr.com>
To: “Jodi Grove” <jodi@shrewsburytownship.org>
Cc: <earlschuckman@verizon.net>
Sent: Thursday, March 05, 2009 5:12 PM
Subject: RE: Records you sent

Jodi:

I am confused.

Are you telling me there is no record keeping for year-to-year approved
budgets, as required by state law? To make you aware — and you can check
with the solicitor on this — if these approved budgets exist on a computer
you are not “creating a record” by pushing the button to print it. If these
records exist in electronic form you can send it to me that way.

Also, I appreciate the offer of the township to pay the remaining postage
that you did not bill me for, but I must insist that I settle the amount.
Please fax, e-mail or mail an invoice.

Thanks,
Nichole
—————-
—–Original Message—–
From: Jodi Grove [mailto:jodi@shrewsburytownship.org]
Sent: 03/06/2009 9:06 AM
To: Nichole Dobo
Cc: earlschuckman@verizon.net
Subject: Re: Records you sent

Nichole:

The theme of your request seems to be around E. Mike Lee, what specifically
are you asking for?

You asked for your request to be mailed to you and you paid for that
service.  It was the office’s choice to send it certified and that is why
you haven’t been charged any additional postage.  You can be assured that we
have marked your request paid in full.

Jodi Grove
Municipal Secretary/Open Records Officer
Shrewsbury Township
————————
—– Original Message —–
From: “Nichole Dobo” <ndobo@ydr.com>
To: “Jodi Grove” <jodi@shrewsburytownship.org>
Sent: Friday, March 06, 2009 9:32 AM
Subject: RE: Records you sent

Jodi:

As I asked for in my request, I am seeking the budgets (i.e. actual spending
accounts). You sent proposed budgets, and my secondary question stemmed from
why you did not send approved budgets. I am not sure why you would connect
Mr. Lee and the township’s budgeting.

Thank you,
Nichole
——————-
—–Original Message—–
From: Jodi Grove [mailto:jodi@shrewsburytownship.org]
Sent: 03/06/2009 12:03 PM
To: Nichole Dobo
Cc: Earl Schuckman
Subject: Re: Records you sent

Nichole:

Please find attached approved budgets for 2004 & 2006.

Jodi Grove
Municipal Secretary/Open Records Officer
Shrewsbury Township
———————
—– Original Message —–
From: “Nichole Dobo” <ndobo@ydr.com>
To: “Jodi Grove” <jodi@shrewsburytownship.org>
Cc: “Earl Schuckman” <earlschuckman@verizon.net>
Sent: Friday, March 06, 2009 1:53 PM
Subject: RE: Records you sent

Jodi:

Thank you. I guess I can take it that you are rescinding the letter where
you state that approved budgets do not exist.

Nichole
————
—–Original Message—–
From: Jodi Grove [mailto:jodi@shrewsburytownship.org]
Sent: 03/06/2009 2:09 PM
To: Nichole Dobo
Subject: Re: Records you sent

Nichole:

I have successfully fulfilled your request.  If you  need further
clarification please call the office and I will set up a meeting for you to
talk with the Chairman of the Board, Paul Solomon.

Jodi Grove
Municipal Secretary/Open Records Officer
Shrewsbury Township

This entry was posted in denials, fees, Nichole Dobo, Online records, Pennsylvania open records, Pennsylvania public record, Pennsylvania Right to Know, Right-to-Know Law and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Battle to get a budget

  1. Jane Bostic says:

    Why if Paul Solomon is Chairman are all the reponses to Nicole Dobo’s requests cc’d to Earl Schuckman and not to Chairman Solomon?

  2. Nichole Dobo says:

    Mr. Shuckman was copied on the messages because he wrote an editorial about records requests (specifically mentioning this request), so I thought he would want to be kept in the loop.

  3. Nichole Dobo says:

    To correct a typo in my post, I mistakenly left the c out of Mr. Schuckman’s name.

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