The state Office of Open Records set the rate for copies at 25 cents per page for most documents, with higher fees for things such as certified copies.
Warren Bulette, a resident of the York Suburban School District, recently paid $43.25 for copies of budget documents that relate to next year’s spending.
He wrote to the YDR, upset that he was charged so much. He asked a friend in the copying business how much it costs to create a black and white copy. The answer: about one cent. Mr. Bulette asked the district to charge him two cents a copy, but they refused to give him the documents until he paid 25 cents per page.
That leads us to two interesting issues.
First, the documents Mr. Bulette sought were handed out to all who attend board meetings at no cost. Being 80 years old, Mr. Bulette said he can’t make it to every meeting, but thinks he should get free copies just the same.
Second, why isn’t the district posting the budgets online, Mr. Bulette asks. It’s a good question. These things typically exsist in PDF form, so it seems it would be pretty simple to put them online. Most all York County districts put up budget documents online for the public.
Third, why 25 cents? If I go to Kinkos I get charged about eight cents a page. It’s a business, so I am guessing that fee makes a decent profit for the company. A quarter a page seems like a pretty big mark-up for a governement agency to charge taxpayers to see documents that belong to the public.
I hear agencies complain all the time that a quarter a page does not cover all costs associated with filling public record requests. However, one would agrue that part of the job description of a public official should be filling these requests. This is not “extra” work.