State’s Political Subdivisions Fail Open Records Request
Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Posted by: Elise Buchheit
State Auditor Nichole Galloway says a about two-thirds of Missouri’s political subdivisions failed their test over Sunshine Law Compliance in 2016.
Galloway’s office sent an unidentified request to 326 randomly selected governmental entities asking for copies of minutes from the last governing board meeting in 2015 and copies of required notices and policies. Fifteen percent of districts failed to respond to the mailed request at all.
Galloway said to achieve compliance the governmental unit had to respond within three days, and meeting notices had to include a reference to the time, date, location, tentative agenda, and proper citation of proposed closed sessions. Over a third of minutes supplied failed to comply with the requirements of state law.
The Auditors report claims that less than three out of 10 districts were fully compliant in their response to the request for records and policies.
She noted that some districts would not process the request until they knew how the information would be used, others claimed that requestor had to appear at the district to obtain the document, and several asked for clarification on the details of the request. The Auditor noted that districts are not allowed to deny records for those purposes.
There are 4,113 political subdivisions in the state including cities, counties, schools and a multiplicity of special purpose districts such as fire and ambulance districts, road districts, and special tax districts.