Prompted by a story in The Palm Beach Post, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office has revamped its pricing policy for public records.
On top of all the fees it charges to gather, review and redact information, the sheriff had been charging $20 for the CD or DVD that contains the information. But that violates state law, The Post wrote in March, citing rules that say the public can be charged only the “actual cost of duplication” for materials and supplies, such as CDs.
A Post analysis showed the sheriff’s office paid on average 26 cents for the CDs it sold to the public for $20.
The sheriff’s revised price list puts the new cost of a CD at 39 cents and the cost of a DVD at 42 cents.
The sheriff’s office did not return a request for comment Thursday. In March, a spokeswoman said the office would be revising the price list, which hadn’t been changed since 2008.
Invoices from the sheriff’s office between 2013 and 2014 showed the agency paid anywhere from 7 cents per CD to 31 cents. Charging more than 100 times the actual cost violated public records law.
Governments can exceed the actual cost of material sought by the public only if the request requires extensive resources, state law says. Even then, however, the law does not allow the government to charge more than the actual cost of supplies.
Nine other agencies surveyed in March by The Post, including West Palm Beach and Palm Beach Gardens, did not charge more than $1 for a CD.
However, the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office continues to charge $10 for DVDs. In one recent records request, the office told The Post it would have to pay $550 for 55 DVDs, each with at least an 8-gig capacity.
As the sheriff did, the state attorney offers to waive the fee if the requester provides blank DVDs. At Staples, a 15-pack of 8-gig DVDs costs about $30, or $2 per DVD.
The State Attorney’s Office did not return a request for comment.
Original article here.