Making a request for Public Records
Public records requests may be made in-person, via first class mail, fax or electronic mail to the Records Access Officer. A records request form has been provided below, but it is not required to submit a records request.
The Massachusetts Public Records Law (Law), found under Chapter 66, Section 10 of the Massachusetts General Laws, applies to records made or received by a Massachusetts governmental entity. Unless the requested records fall under an exemption to the Law, the responsive documents must be made available to the requester. A list of exemptions may be found under Chapter 4, Section 7(26) of the Massachusetts General Laws.
On June 3, 2016, Governor Baker signed An Act to Improve Public Records into law. Provisions in the new law took effect on January 1, 2017, for more information please refer to the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s Website at: https://www.sec.state.ma.us/pre/prenotice.htm
Beginning January 1, 2017, a RAO must permit inspection or furnish a copy of a requested public record within 10 business days following receipt of the request. RAOs may petition the Supervisor of Records for an extension if they are unable to grant access to the requested public records in this time period.
While requests for records may be made verbally, in person, it is preferable to make the request in writing to reduce confusion. A copy of the written request is required to file an appeal with the Supervisor of Records.
The Supervisor of Records' Public Access Regulations allowing records custodians to charge 5 cents for black and white paper copies or computer printouts of public records for both single and double-sided sheets was codified and will remain effective with the new law.
Beginning January 1, 2017, the RAO may assess a fee of the hourly rate of the lowest paid employee with the skills necessary to search for, compile, segregate, redact or reproduce a requested record. However, the fee shall not exceed $25 an hour, unless approved by the Supervisor of Records. Municipalities with populations of 20,000 people or fewer will be permitted to charge for the first 2 hours of employee time.
As of January 1, 2017, if an agency or municipality fails to comply with a requirement of the new law, the requester may file an appeal with the Supervisor of Records who will then issue a determination on the public status of the records within 10 business days of receipt of the request for an appeal.
Under the new Public Records Law, if a requestor prevails in a court action against an agency or municipal RAO, the court may award the requestor attorney fees or costs.
Records Access Officer (RAO)
Robert Whritenour, Town Administrator
PO Box 1327
Oak Bluffs, MA 02557
508-693-3554 ext. 113
Office located in the Selectmen's Office at Town Hall, open Monday-Friday 8:30am-4:00pm.