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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Fee for Electronic Records Excessive Under FOIA

A couple of years ago, we reported on a 5th District Illinois Appellate Court case holding that a fee charged for production of real estate records violated Section 6 of the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Sage Information Services v. Humm. The Second District recently decided a similar issue, and citing Humm, found the Winnebago County Assessor in violation of FOIA for charging a requester $6,290.45 (five cents per parcel) to provide an electronic copy of the current real property assessment file for the entire county. Sage Information Services v. Suhr (2d Dist. April 14, 2014)

The Assessor had argued that it was expressly authorized under the Property Tax Code to charge a reasonable fee to provide assessment records.  The requester countered that FOIA "trumped" the Tax Code with respect to electronic records.  The appellate court agreed, holding that Section 6 of FOIA prohibits a fee for reproduction of electronic records in excess of the cost of the electronic medium.  In this case, the Assessor could only charge for the cost of the CD/DVD, nothing more.

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink


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