The City of Westerville will manage and make available public records in accordance with all applicable laws, ordinances, and the City Records Retention schedule. Any individual can request a Public Record. The Ohio Attorney General provides a manual on the Ohio Sunshine Laws which explains open records laws.
Definition of a Public Record
Subject to certain legal exceptions, a "Public Record" is generally defined as an item kept by the City that is ALL of the following:
- Stored on a fixed medium AND
- Created, received, or sent under the jurisdiction of the City, AND
- Documents the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities of the City.
Processing and Cost of Copying
It is the goal of the City of Westerville to acknowledge all public records requests in writing.
Public records are available for inspection and/or copying during regular business hours. If copies are desired, copied will be provided, subject to a charge for the cost of producing those copies. According to the Sunshine Laws, records must be promptly provided to the requester and copies are to be made available within a reasonable period of time.
The City may ask for additional information to assist in satisfying the needs of the requester, but the person making the request:
- Does NOT need to make the request in writing
- Does NOT need to reveal his or her identity
- Does NOT need to provide any information relative to their intended use of the requested public record.
The requester must identify the requested records with sufficient clarity to allow the office to retrieve them. If a request is ambiguous or overly broad, the office may deny the request, but will need to contact the requester for clarification. The office should assist the person in revising the request by explaining how the office's records are organized and accessed.
If a request for Public Records is denied, the requester is entitled to an explanation of the reasons for the denial in accordance with the exemptions contained in the Sunshine Laws. Certain information in a requested Public Record may be redacted (blacked-out); the requester is entitled to an explanation of the reasons for any redactions.
Electronic records are to be treated in the same way as records in other formats. Email, text messages, and instant messages, for example, may be public records if their content documents the business of the office. Records transmitted to or from private email accounts to conduct public business are subject to disclosure.
Important City Documents