P. O. BOX 328
TOPINABEE, MICHIGAN 49791
It is the public policy of this state that all persons (except those persons incarcerated in state or local correctional facilities) are entitled to full and complete information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts of those who represent them as public officials and public employees.
The people shall be informed so that they may fully participate in the democratic process.
Consistent with the Michigan Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Public Act 442 of 1976, the following is the Written Public Summary of the Township’s FOIA Procedures and Guidelines relevant to the general public.
This is only a summary of the Township’s FOIA Procedures and Guidelines. For more details and information, copies of the Township’s FOIA Procedures and Guidelines are available at no charge at the office of the Township Clerk.
A request must sufficiently describe a public record so as to enable the Township to find it.
No specific form to submit a written request is required. However, a FOIA Request Form and other FOIA-related forms are available for your use and convenience at the office of the Township Clerk. Please include the words “FOIA” or -FOIA Request” in the request to assist the Township in providing a prompt response. Requests to inspect or obtain copies of public records prepared, owned, used, possessed, or retained by the Township may be submitted on the Township’s FOIA Request Form or in any other form of writing (letter, fax, email, etc.).
The Township may (but is not required to) respond to a verbal, non-written request for records not available on the Township’s website. Such a verbal request for records may be documented by the Township on the Township’s FOIA Request Form.
If a person makes a verbal, non-written request for information believed to be available on the Township’s website, where practicable and to the best ability of the employee receiving the request, the requestor shall be informed of the pertinent website address.
Any verbal request will be documented by the Township on the township’s FOIA Request Form.
Written requests may be delivered to the FOIA Coordinator in person or by mail.
Requests may be faxed to (231) 238-9163. To ensure a prompt response, email requests should contain the term “FOIA” or “FOIA Request” on the first/cover page.’
To ensure a prompt response, email requests should contain the term “FOIA” or “FOIA Request” in the subject line.
Within 5 business days after receiving a FOIA request the Township will issue a response. If a request is received by fax or email, the request is deemed to have been received on the following business day. The Township will respond to your request in one of the following ways:
If the Township has made a good-faith calculation that the total fee for processing the request will exceed $50.00, the Township will require that you provide a deposit in the amount of 50% of the total estimated fee. When the Township requests the deposit, it will provide you a non-binding best efforts estimate of how long it will take to process the request after you have paid your deposit.
If the Township receives a request from a person who has not paid the Township for copies of public records made in fulfillment of a previously granted written request, the Township will require a deposit of 100% of the estimated processing fee before it begins to search for the public record for any subsequent written request when all of the following conditions exist:
The Township will not require the 100% estimated fee deposit if any of the following apply:
The Michigan FOIA statute permits the Township to charge for the following costs associated with processing a request:
All labor costs will be estimated and charged in 15-minute increments, with all partial time increments rounded down. If the time involved is less than 15 minutes, there will be no charge.
Labor costs will be charged at the hourly wage of the lowest-paid Township employee capable of doing the work in the specific fee category, regardless of who actually performs work.
Labor costs will also include a charge to cover or partially cover the cost of fringe benefits. Township may add up to 50% to the applicable labor charge amount to cover or partially cover the cost of fringe benefits, but in no case may it exceed the actual cost of fringe benefits.
Overtime wages will not be included in labor costs unless agreed to by the requestor; overtime costs will not be used to calculate the fringe benefit cost.
Contracted labor costs will be charged at the hourly rate of $48.90 (6 times the state minimum hourly wage)
A labor cost will not be charged for the search, examination, review, and the deletion and separation of exempt from nonexempt information unless failure to charge a fee would result in unreasonably high costs to the Township. Costs are unreasonably high when they are excessive and beyond the normal or usual amount for those services compared to the Township’s usual FOIA requests, because of the nature of the request in the particular instance. The Township must specifically identify the nature of the unreasonably high costs in writing.
The Township must use the most economical method for making copies of public records, including using double-sided printing if cost-saving and available.
Non-paper Copies on Physical Media.
The cost for records provided on non-paper physical media, such as computer discs, computer tapes, or other digital or similar media will be at the actual and most reasonably economical cost for the non-paper media.
This cost will be charged only if the Township has the technological capability necessary to provide the public record in the requested non-paper physical media format.
Paper copies of public records made on standard letter (8 1/2 x 11) or legal (8 1/2 x 14) sized paper will not exceed $.10 per sheet of paper. Copies for non-standard-sized sheets will paper will reflect the actual cost of reproduction.
The cost to mail public records will use a reasonably economical and justified means.
The Township may charge for the least expensive form of postal delivery confirmation.
No cost will be made for expedited shipping or insurance unless you request it.
The cost of the search for and copying of a public record may be waived or reduced if in the sole judgment of the FOIA Coordinator a waiver or reduced fee is in the public interest because it can be considered as primarily benefitting the general public. The township board may identify specific records or types of records it deems should be made available for no charge or at a reduced cost.
The Township will discount the first $20.00 of fees for a request if you submit an affidavit stating that you are:
You are not eligible to receive the $20.00 discount if you:
A nonprofit organization advocating for developmentally disabled or mentally ill individuals that are formally designated by the state to carry out activities under subtitle C of the federal developmental disabilities assistance and bill of rights act of 2000, Public Law 106-402, and the protection and advocacy for individuals with mental illness act, Public Law 99-319, may receive a $20.00 discount if the request meets all of the following requirements in the Act:
The appeal of a Denial of a Public Record:
If you believe that all or a portion of a public record has not been disclosed or has been improperly exempted from disclosure, you may appeal to the Township Board by filing a written appeal of the denial with the office of the Township Clerk.
The appeal must be in writing, specifically state the word “appeal,” and identify the reason or reasons you are seeking a reversal of the denial. You may use the Township FOIA Appeal Form (To Appeal a Denial of Records), which is available on the Township’s website.
The Township Board is not considered to have received a written appeal until the first regularly scheduled Township Board meeting following submission of the written appeal. Within 10 business days of receiving the appeal, the Township Board will respond in writing by:
Whether or not you submitted an appeal of a denial to the Township Board, you may file a civil action in Cheboygan County Circuit Court within 180 days after the Township’s final determination to deny your request. If you prevail in the civil action the court will award you reasonable attorneys’ fees, costs and disbursements. If the court determines that the Township acted arbitrarily and capriciously in refusing to disclose or provide a public record, the court shall award you damages in the amount of $1,000.
The appeal of an Excess FOIA Processing Fee:
If you believe that the fee charged by the Township to process your FOIA request exceeds the amount permitted by state law, you must first appeal to the Township Board by filing a written appeal for a fee reduction to the office of the Township Clerk.
The appeal must specifically state the word “appeal” and identify how the required fee exceeds the amount permitted. You may use the Township FOIA Appeal Form (To Appeal an Excess Fee), which is available at the Township Hall and on the Township’s website.
The Township Board is not considered to have received a written appeal until the first regularly scheduled Township Board meeting following submission of the written appeal. Within 10 business days after receiving the appeal, the Township Board will respond in writing by one of the following:
Within 45 days after receiving notice of the Township Board’s determination of the processing fee appeal, you may commence a civil action in Cheboygan County Circuit Court for a fee reduction. If you prevail in the civil action by receiving a reduction of 50% or more of the total fee, the court may award all or appropriate amounts of reasonable attorneys’ fees, costs, and disbursements. If the court determines that the Township acted arbitrarily and capriciously by charging an excessive fee, the court may also award you punitive damages in the amount of $500.