The City Clerk has the responsibility of processing all requests for public information according to the standards set by the Public Disclosure Act of the State of Washington. Public communication of city activities is provided through advertising and posting of public meetings and hearings; legal notices and ordinance summaries in the weekly bulletin published in the city's newspaper of record; maintenance of the city website; production of the City Update published quarterly; and through press releases.
PUBLIC RECORDS FAQs
What Constitutes a Public Record?
The state statutes broadly define public records. "Public records" include any "writing containing information relating to the conduct of government or the performance of any governmental or proprietary function prepared, owned, used or retained by any state or local agency regardless of physical form or characteristics." RCW 42.17.020(42).
How do I request public records from the City?
If you wish to submit a request for public records, please complete a City of Covington Request for Public Records Form, which can also be obtained at City Hall. After completing a request, simply submit the completed form to the City Clerk's Department for processing.
What can the City charge for providing copies of public records?
Each agency shall establish, maintain, and make available for public inspection and copying a statement of the actual per page cost or other costs, if any, that it charges for providing photocopies of public records and a statement of the factors and manner used to determine the actual per page cost or other costs, if any.
In determining the actual per page cost for providing photocopies of public records, an agency may include all costs directly incident to copying such public records including the actual cost of the paper and the per page cost for use of agency copying equipment. In determining other actual costs for providing photocopies of public records, an agency may include all costs directly incident to shipping such public records, including the cost of postage or delivery charges and the cost of any container or envelope used.
In determining the actual per page cost or other costs for providing copies of public records, an agency may not include staff salaries, benefits, or other general administrative or overhead charges, unless those costs are directly related to the actual cost of copying the public records. Staff time to copy and mail the requested public records may be included in an agency's costs.
An agency need not calculate the actual per page cost or other costs it charges for providing photogcopies of public records if to do so would be unduly burdensome, but in that event: The agency may not charge in excess of fifteen cents per page for photocopies of public records or for the use of agency equipment to photocopy public records and the actual postage or delivery charges and the cost of any container or envelope used to mail the public records to the requestor. RCW 42.56.070(7) & (8).
How soon must the City respond to a request for public records?
State law requires that responses to requests for public records be made "promptly". Specifically, cities and other governmental agencies must, within five business days of receiving a request, respond by either: (1) providing the record; (2) acknowledging receipt of the request and providing a reasonable estimate of the time in which a response will be made, or (3) denying the request. Additional response time beyond five days may be based upon a need to clarify the request, to locate and assemble the records requested, to notify staff affected by the request, or to determine whether any of the requested records are exempt for disclosure pursuant to RCW 42.56.520.
Is the City required to respond to public records disclosure requests by electronic means (i.e. fax or e-mail)?
No. A city is under no obligation to respond to disclosure requests electronically - either by facsimile or by e-mailing a file. The public has a right to review public records at City offices and the public has a right to obtain copies of public records if they pay the reasonable costs charged by the City. Of course, e-mailing a document that happens to be in electronic format will usually be easier and more cost efficient than mailing a paper copy. Depending on document length, faxing will also in many cases be a more timely and cost-efficient means of transmitting documents.