1. Do I have the right to access all documents in the custody
of local government?
No. You have the right to access documents defined as "public
records." While this includes most documents in the local governments'
possession, there are some documents that are not classified as
"public records" and which are confidential.
2. What kinds of documents are kept confidential?
The general concept behind the Right to Know Law is that the public
is entitled to access information about its government. However,
the law recognizes that some private information is kept by government,
and sometimes public safety requires that information be kept
confidential. Examples of documents that are not accessible to
the public include: · Some personnel file information, such as
medical information and complaints that do not result in disciplinary
action. · Information about property tax abatements granted on
the basis of infirmity or poverty. · Some information from calls
for assistance on the E-9-1-1 line. · Medical information from
rescue calls. · Information the department has regarding criminal
charges that have not resulted in convictions or that is classified
as intelligence or investigative information, including the name
of the person who filed a complain against you if there are no
charges. · Documents detailing emergency response plans and protocols.
Some information in crash reports may be deleted if it contains
E-9-1-1, medical or other confidential information.
3. Who decides whether or not I can have the information?
Documents that clearly contain only public information will be
provided on request by the department with custody of the records.
Where there is any question about whether a document can be provided
to a member of the public, the request is forwarded to the Town's
Legal Department, where it is reviewed to make sure the Town is
complying with all applicable laws.
4. Is the Town required to provide immediate access?
The town is required to provide access to the requested information
or a written reason why access is denied within 5 business days
of the request.
5. Do I have to give a reason why I want the information?
No. Sometimes, however, a Town employee may ask you questions
in an effort to make sure he/she understands exactly what you
are asking for in order to be responsive to the request.
6. Can the Town charge me for copies of documents?
Yes. The Town is permitted to charge a fee that covers the costs
of staff time and photocopying.
For more information about the Freedom of Access Law, Please
Houlton Police Department 532-2287
Houlton Town Office 532-7111