Viewing public records free; copies will cost

New Loudon County mayor takes aim at nuisance requests

LOUDON - As one of his first acts in office, new Loudon County Mayor Doyle Arp has set strict guidelines and imposed hefty fees for obtaining public records from his office.

Those requesting information must fill out a form and pay a minimum, upfront, nonrefundable fee of $25, plus 25 cents a page for any copies of county documents.

Any requests taking longer than an hour for Arp's staff to research would result in an additional $25 an hour fee.

Arp says the policy is in response to repeated requests for information from what he calls the "Triple A Club - Always Against Anything.''

He said there's a small group of county residents - many dissatisfied with the latest election results - that has repeatedly been making requests for county records.

"They had been walking into different county offices and demanding to see records,'' he said.

"They're just being nosy,'' Arp said.

"Why should they care to come to my office and make a formal request?''

"It's something we want to know; what they want, and they have to put it in writing. We'll get it (the requested information) to them in a reasonable length of time.

"We've got a county to run,'' Arp said. "We aren't running a baby-sitting service.''

Arp said previous requests for information from members of the small group have kept county employees from doing their jobs.

"We don't have the time to do this,'' Arp said. "If the (county) commission says they want that done, they can bring somebody in here to do it.''

Tennessee courts and the attorney general have found public officials can charge fees for copying public records, providing those fees reasonably reflect the actual costs for making the copies.

Local governments can't charge fees for allowing inspection of a public record, according to CTAS' County Records Manual.

Local governments also can't charge for the time employees spend helping citizens inspect public records, according to that manual.

Charges can be assessed in those cases only if copies are made, the manual states.