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2013 News

State Open Records Appeal in Matter of Simon Campbell V. County of Bucks Denied

August 13, 2013

On August 12, 2013, the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records determined that complainant Mr. Simon Campbell's appeal is denied with regard to a $1,074.15 invoice for 11,935 property assessment records for Tullytown Boro and Falls Township. Those records were provided to Mr. Campbell on June 26, 2013 by the County Board of Assessment.

On July 11, 2013, Mr. Campbell filed a timely appeal with the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records, challenging the fee. He argued that the County is prohibited from charging fees in excess of $100 without obtaining his approval, requiring him to prepay any fees, or describing the method of calculating the County's fee.

Subsequently, on July 22, 2013, the County submitted a position statement and supporting affidavit. In its position statement, the County argued that Mr. Campbell was a charged a fee of $0.09 per parcel for property assessment records, and that the fee charged is authorized in accordance with prior final determinations issued by the Office of Open Records that have held that an agency can charge the "reasonable market value" for complex and extensive data sets. The County further stated that Mr. Campbell was aware of the $0.09 per parcel fee.

In its decision, the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records stated that Mr. Campbell "is not being denied records, he is being provided records. Moreover, the agency (Bucks County Open Records Office) has properly applied the fee structure established in the (Right to Know) law. The County is not attempting to charge a fee on appeal that it did not charge in its initial response, as (Mr. Campbell) erroneously suggests." The final determination in this matter can be found on the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records website at: http://openrecords.state.pa.us