Public Records - Freedom of Information
The City of Lewiston advocates that the public’s right to information about government activities is at the heart of democratic government. As such, the City is committed to providing the public with access to information and records about its business and fully supports the Maine Freedom of Access Act (FOAA). The Act grants Maine people with a broad right of access to public records while protecting legitimate governmental interests and the privacy rights of individual citizens. The Act also ensures government accountability to Maine citizens by requiring public access to the meetings of public bodies. Transparency and open decision-making are fundamental principles of the Maine Freedom of Access Act and to the City of Lewiston's operations.
Lewiston's Freedom of Access Officer
Deputy City Administrator Dale Doughty
He may be contacted at 207-513-3000, X3201 or Email Dale Doughty
How Do I Begin a Freedom of Access Act Request?
To request access to City records, you should start by determining which City department is likely to maintain those records, contact that department, and make your request. There are no required forms that must be completed, and the request may be made either verbally or in writing. If you are unsure of whom to contact, have questions about records access, or are seeking a large number of documents or documents from more than one department, you may contact the City’s Freedom of Access Officer, Deputy City Administrator Dale Doughty.
What Should I Say in My Request?
In order for the governmental body, agency, or official to promptly respond to your request, you should be as specific as possible when describing the records you are seeking. If a particular document is required, it should be identified precisely-preferably by author, date, and title. However, a request does not have to be that specific. If you cannot identify a specific record, you should clearly explain the type of records you are seeking, from what time frame, and what subject the records should contain.
Does the City Have to Acknowledge Receipt of My Request?
Yes. The City will acknowledge receipt of your request within a reasonable period of time.
Can the City Ask for Clarification of a Request?
Yes. The City may request clarification concerning the public record(s) being requested.
Does the City Have to Estimate How Long it Will Take to Respond?
Yes. The City must provide a good faith, non-binding estimate of how long it will take to comply with the request and make a good faith effort to fully respond within the estimated time.
When Does the City Have to Make the Records Available?
The records must be made available "within a reasonable period of time" after the request is made.
When Can the City Refuse to Release the Records I Request?
Maine’s FOAA provides that certain categories of documents are not public records. Among those are records that have been designated confidential by statute; documents subject to a recognized legal privilege such as the attorney-client privilege or the work-product privilege; records describing security plans or procedures designed to prevent acts of terrorism; medical records; juvenile records; and the personal contact information of public employees contained within records.
Does the City Have to Explain Why it Denies Access to a Public Record?
Yes. When the City denies access to a public record, it must provide the reason for its denial in writing within five (5) working days of the date of the FOAA request.
Can the City Charge for Public Records?
There is no initial fee for submitting a request, and the City cannot charge an individual to inspect records unless the public record cannot be inspected without being compiled or converted. However, the City can charge a reasonable fee for copying records. The City may also charge fees for the time spent searching for, retrieving, compiling, or redacting confidential information from the requested records.
Maine’s law authorizes the City to charge $15 per hour after the first hour of staff time per request. Where conversion of a record is necessary, the agency or official may also charge a fee to cover the actual cost of conversion. The City must prepare an estimate of the time and cost required to complete a request, and if the estimate is greater than $30, the City must notify the requester before proceeding. The City may request payment of the costs in advance if the estimated cost exceeds $100 or if the requester has previously failed to pay a fee.