Greenport Village plans to start charging people who file excessively detailed Freedom of Information Law requests, in an attempt village officials hope will rein in the extensive amount of time their office staff spends honoring the requests.
The village was advised last fall by state committee on open government executive director Bob Freeman that it could charge for excessively detailed requests.
Village Clerk Sylvia Pirillo told the village board at a work session Jan. 22 that requests taking up to two hours to fill would remain free, but any request that took more time than that would be billed at an hourly rate equal to the hourly pay of the lowest paid village worker who helps to fill the request.
Mr. Freeman had advised the village to use that method to calculate the cost of extensive requests.
Ms. Pirillo provided the board with examples of three recent FOIL requests, including one that took eight hours of staff time on Nov. 27, one that took a total of three hours and forty-five minutes on Dec. 4 and a two hours on Dec. 20.
“And there are more upcoming,” she said.
Trustee Mary Bess Phillips said she wants to ensure the village posts the new fees prominently online and in the office, so that the public is aware of the changes.