Updates on cases, laws, and other topics of interest to local governments

Subscribe by Email

Enter your Email:
Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Subscribe in a Reader

Follow Municipal Minute on Twitter


Blog comments do not reflect the views or opinions of the Author or Ancel Glink. Some of the content may be considered attorney advertising material under the applicable rules of certain states. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Please read our full disclaimer

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

PAC Finds Violation for Redaction of Financial Information

The Public Access Counselor (PAC) of the Illinois Attorney General's office issued its third binding opinion this year last week. In PAC Op. 17-003, the PAC found a public body in violation of FOIA for improperly redacting and withholding certain financial information from its response to a FOIA request.

A city clerk filed a FOIA request with a sanitary district for copies of agreements, invoices, and other records relating to the district's agreement with a private company that managed and operated the district's wastewater facilities. The district responded to the request by providing 1,470 pages of records, some of which had been redacted. The district did not provide an explanation as to why the records had been redacted.

The requester filed a request for review with the PAC. After requesting the unredacted records and other records that had been withheld, the PAC determined that the district violated FOIA for the following reasons:

1.  It failed to comply with section 9(a) which requires a written explanation for any denial of a FOIA request, including a partial denial that results in redactions of public records.

2.  The redaction of the financial terms of the district's agreement with the private company was improper because the receipt and use of public funds is public information under the Illinois constitution, so it is neither proprietary or privileged.

3.  The district's withholding of its annual budgets was also improper, as there is no exemption under FOIA that would require a public body's budget to be withheld.

There is nothing too surprising from this opinion, although the PAC's interpretation of the Illinois constitution's about the receipt and use of public funds could be seen as overly broad in a different context where a record might actually contain proprietary information.

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf


Post a Comment