Two residents are questioning Canton's public records policy after receiving a combined $600 bill for requested copies of the city budget and bank statements.If only someone would invent something that could put all 650 copies on one computer file that would cost nothing. Imagine that.
Susan Coulange and James Cockrell, top officers in a grass-roots Canton government watchdog group, allege the charges do not reflect actual costs and likely were meant to dissuade their inquiry.
Mayor William Truly vehemently defends the fees and characterizes the request for bank statements - because they contain employee salary information - as "mean" and "ridiculous and stupid."
"I could understand how a group would want to know what elected officials are doing, but why would you want to know what ordinary employees are paid? That's mean," Truly said. "It is the most ridiculous and stupid request of which I am aware."
Cockrell said the purpose of the records requests made on June 8 is to track how taxpayer money is spent.
Truly acknowledged the city often waives fees for small-scale records requests, but the mayor said it was necessary to charge for nearly 650 copies and more than nine hours of labor needed to research and copy the city's budget and bank statements from January to June.
"When you have such a voluminous request that takes them (city employees) away from their customary duty to prepare this voluminous amount of material, it disrupts their work day," Truly said.
Truly described the records probe as an "attack" and a way to "target" his administration and employees.