Greenport to charge for time-consuming FOILs

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Bob Freeman, who heads the state’s Committee on Open Government, speaking during a meeting in Greenport last year.

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.

Last fall Bob Freeman, executive director of the state committee on open government, advised the village that it could charge for excessively detailed requests.

Village Clerk Sylvia Pirillo told the village board at a work session Jan. 22 that requests that take 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 suggested the village 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, another of three hours and forty-five minutes on Dec. 4 and one requiring two hours of staff time 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.

 Read more, including reaction from the public, in next week’s issue of The Suffolk Times.

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