Pelham sets access restrictions

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Pelham City council passed a resolution Sept. 12 that will require the public to provide their name, address, telephone number and an explanation in order to access the city’s records.

Pelham’s decision follows a trend among Shelby County municipalities that are beginning to monitor and govern the access of public records.

The cities of Vincent, Westover, Columbiana and Montevallo recently instituted similar restrictions while the city of Alabaster has had such guidelines in place for some time.

In addition to filling out an &uot;Access Policy&uot; form with the above information, the public will also be asked to pay 50 cents per copied page and $15 an hour for any extra time that city employees have to spend to fulfill public records requests.

&uot;We’ve never asked people for anything before,&uot; Pelham Mayor Bobby Hayes said.

&uot;In the past we’ve just handed documents to people upon their request.&uot;

Hayes said the new policy will help the city cover the costs of finding and printing requested documents.

&uot;In the past the city has just taken on those costs,&uot; he said.

Some residents of Pelham have expressed their concerns regarding the requirement that a person must give a reason for their document requests, but Hayes said the public should not be concerned.

&uot;I could simply put ‘personal business’ on there and I would get the records I requested,&uot; Hayes said. &uot;I can’t see where there would be any difference depending on what a person writes down.&uot;

Hayes said he believed the request form was modeled after other cities that have similar policies