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Section 106

PUBLIC RECORDS

106.1 AUTHORITY AND PURPOSE.

(A) The Northwest Clean Air Agency (NWCAA) will make available for inspection and copying nonexempt public records in accordance with the Public Records Act, chapter 42.56 RCW. The Public Records Act defines public records to include any writing containing information relating to the conduct of government or the performance of any governmental or proprietary function prepared, owned, used, or retained by the agency.

(B) The purpose of this section is to establish the procedures the NWCAA will follow in order to provide full access to nonexempt public records. These sections provide information to persons wishing to request access to public records of the NWCAA and establish processes for both requesters and NWCAA staff that are designed to best assist members of the public in obtaining records.

106.2 AGENCY CONTACT INFORMATION

(A) Any person wishing to request access to public records of the NWCAA, or seeking assistance in making such a request should contact the Public Records Officer of the NWCAA:

Public Records Officer
Northwest Clean Air Agency
1600 S Second St
Mount Vernon, WA 98273-5202
Phone: 360-428-1617
Facsimile: 360-428-1620
Email: PublicInformationRequests@nwcleanairwa.gov

Requests may be submitted on the NWCAA website at www.nwcleanairwa.gov.

(B) Duties of Public Records Officer. The Public Records Officer will oversee compliance with this section but another NWCAA staff member may process the request. Therefore, any reference to the Public Records Officer in this section may refer to the Public Records Officer or designee.

106.3 AVAILABILITY OF PUBLIC RECORDS.

(A) Public records are available for inspection Monday through Friday during the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., excluding legal holidays. Records must be inspected at the NWCAA office. Arrangements to inspect records should be made in advance with the Public Records Officer.

(B) The NWCAA finds that maintaining an index is unduly burdensome and would interfere with agency operations due to the agency’s small size and the high volume and types of public records generated and received by the agency.

(C) The NWCAA will maintain its records in a reasonably organized manner. The NWCAA will take reasonable actions to protect records from damage and disorganization.

(D) Making a Request for Public Records. Any person wishing to inspect or to have copies made of public records should make this request in writing by letter, email sent to PublicInformationRequests@nwcleanairwa.gov, or through the NWCAA website at www.nwcleanairwa.gov.

(1) The request should include the following information:
(a) Name of requester;
(b) Address of requester;
(c) Other contact information, including telephone number and email address;
(d) Identification of the information or records sought adequate to locate the records; and
(e) The date and time of day of the request.

(2) The Public Records Officer may accept requests for public records by telephone or in person. The Public Records Officer will confirm receipt of the request and summarize the request in writing.

(3) If requesters refuse to identify themselves or provide sufficient contact information, the NWCAA will respond to the extent feasible and consistent with the law.

106.4 PROCESSING OF PUBLIC RECORDS REQUESTS

(A) The Public Records Officer will provide the fullest assistance to requesters and prevent excessive interference with other essential functions of the NWCAA.

(B) Within 5 business days of receipt of a request, the Public Records Officer will do one or more of the following:

(1) Make the records available for inspection.

(2) Provide a copy of the record.

(a) If photocopies or scanned copies are requested, the Public Records Officer will notify the requester with an estimated cost of the copies and make arrangements for payment.
(b) If the records are available on the NWCAA website, the Public Records Officer will provide an internet address to the specific records requested.

(3) Provide a reasonable estimate of when records or an installment of records will be available.

(4) Ask the requester to provide clarification for a request that is unclear. If the requester fails to respond to a request for clarification and the entire request is unclear, the NWCAA need not respond to it. The NWCAA will respond to those portions of a request that are clear.

(5) Deny the request.

(C) If the NWCAA does not respond within 5 business days of receipt of the request, the requester should contact the Public Records Officer to determine the reason for the failure to respond.

(D) The NWCAA will notify the requester when records are available for inspection and provide space to review documents. No member of the public may remove a document from the designated reviewing area or from the file. The requester shall indicate which documents he or she wishes the NWCAA to copy.

(E) The Public Records Officer will evaluate the request according to the nature and volume of the request. The Public Records Officer will process requests in the order allowing the most requests to be processed in the most efficient manner.

(F) When the request is for a large number of records, the Public Records Officer may provide access for inspection or send copies in installments.

(G) If, after the NWCAA has informed the requester that it has provided all available records, the NWCAA becomes aware of additional responsive documents existing at the time of the request, the Public Records Officer will promptly inform the requester of the additional documents and provide them on an expedited basis.

(H) When the requester either withdraws the request, fails to clarify an unclear request, fails to pay the deposit, fails to make final payment for the requested copies, or fails to inspect or claim the requested records within 30 days after notification, the Public Records Officer may close the request and refile the records.

106.5 COSTS OF PROVIDING COPIES OF PUBLIC RECORDS

(A) There is no fee for inspecting public records or for the NWCAA’s time spent locating public documents and making them available. There is no fee for providing electronic records if they already exist in an electronic format.

(B) The NWCAA is not calculating actual costs for copying its records because to do so would be unduly burdensome for the following reasons: the NWCAA does not have the resources to conduct a study to determine actual copying costs for all its records and to conduct such a study would interfere with other essential agency functions. Therefore, in order to timely implement a fee schedule consistent with the public records act, it is more cost efficient, expeditious and in the public interest for the NWCAA to adopt the state legislature’s approved fees and costs for most of the NWCAA records, as authorized in RCW 42.56.120 and as published in NWCAA 106.5(C).

(C) The costs for copying and conveying records are as follows:

Public Records Fee Schedule
15 cents / standard page Photocopies provided by NWCAA staff using agency equipment – no fee for first 100 pages per request
10 cents / standard page Scanned documents provided by NWCAA staff using agency equipment (if the documents are not already in electronic format) – no fee for first 100 pages per request
Actual cost Digital storage media or devices
Actual cost Any container or envelope used to mail copies
Actual cost Postage or delivery charges
Actual cost Copying or scanning charged by an outside vendor
Actual cost Expertise to prepare data compilations or provide customized electronic access services
Actual cost Retrieving documents out of storage
Other Other charges allowed in RCW 42.56.120

(D) Payment may be made with a credit card on-line, cash, check, or money order made out to the Treasurer of the NWCAA.

106.6 EXEMPT RECORDS

(A) The Public Records Act provides that some records are exempt in whole or in part from public inspection and copying. In addition to the list of exemptions in RCW 42.56.050, RCW 42.56.210 through RCW 42.56.400, and WAC 44-14-060, common exemptions include:

(1) Confidential business information. The owner or operator of a source may certify that a record or information provided to the agency is confidential because it relates to a process or production unique to the owner or operator or is likely to affect adversely the competitive position if released. Emission and ambient air quality data are excluded from any confidential claim. (RCW 70.94.205)
(2) Attorney-client communications. Communication between an attorney, who is acting as counsel or advisor, and NWCAA staff is confidential unless a member of the public is copied on that communication (RCW 5.60.060(2)(a))
(3) Preliminary drafts, notes, recommendations, and intra-agency memorandums (RCW 42.56.280)
(4) List of individuals (private or natural persons) for commercial purpose. The NWCAA is prohibited by statute from disclosing lists of individuals for commercial purposes (RCW 42.56.070(8))
(5) Investigative records and information pertaining to ongoing investigations where premature disclosure could jeopardize effective law enforcement or any person’s right to privacy. (RCW 42.56.240(1))
(6) Identity of persons who file a complaint with the NWCAA if disclosure would endanger any person’s life, physical safety or property. If at the time a complaint is filed, the complainant indicates a desire for nondisclosure, such desire shall govern (RCW 42.56.240(2))

(B) For records or portions of records that are withheld, the Public Records Officer will document the applicable exemption and provide a brief written explanation as to why the record or portion of the record is being withheld.

(C) In the event that the requested public records contain information that may affect rights of others and may be exempt from disclosure, the Public Records Officer may, prior to providing the public records, give notice to such others whose rights may be affected by the disclosure.

106.7 REVIEW OF DENIALS OF PUBLIC RECORD

(A) Any person who objects to the initial denial or partial denial of a records request may petition in writing to the Control Officer of the NWCAA for a review of that decision. The petition shall include a copy of the written statement by the Public Records Officer denying the request.

(B) The Control Officer or designee will either affirm or reverse the denial within 10 business days following the NWCAA’s receipt of the petition.

(C) Any person may petition the Skagit County Superior Court for a review of denials of public records requests pursuant to RCW 42.56.550 at the conclusion of 10 business days after the initial denial regardless of any internal appeal process.

PASSED: August 9, 1978 AMENDED: November 8, 2007, September 13, 2018