Dear Township Officials:
In a previous alert, the State Association told you about a model public records policy that the Attorney General's office has developed and has made available. We also informed you that the OTA does not support that model policy due to overly broad statements and best practice recommendations made in the policy.
I am happy to inform you that the State Association has secured a model public records policy specifically for township government. The policy will be available on the home page of the OTA's website beginning on Tuesday, September 18. Please visit www.ohiotownships.org to download a copy of the policy. It will be in word and adobe format for easy downloading. Should you have any problems downloading the file, please do not hesitate to contact me or OTA Public Relations Coordinator Kaitlin Carr at (614) 863-0045 or Carr@ohiotownships.org.
A letter was to be sent to all local government officials from the Attorney General's office on Thursday, September 13, 2007, regarding the model policy and public records training being offered by the AG's office. Please note that this letter will direct you to the AG's website to obtain a model public records policy. Again, the OTA encourages you not to adopt the AG's policy but to download and adopt the policy put together by the State Association.
Additionally, the AG letter mentions the public records training mandated by law. I would like to clarify something in the letter that may be confusing. The public records law in Ohio states that elected officials OR THEIR DESIGNEES must have 3 hours of public records training during their term. Elected officials are not required to take the training if they designate a township employee to take the training on their behalf. The AG's office encourages all elected officials to take the training but, again, it is not required if the trustees designate a person to attend on their behalf. Most likely, this is the person that generally handles the public records requests for the township.
Public records training will be available through the Attorney General's office and the Auditor of State's office. I strongly encourage you to visit both websites to learn about training opportunities. Please note that training schedules may not be immediately available so you may have to continuously check the websites. Once the OTA receives confirmed training dates, we will publish the dates in our newsletter, magazine, county memo and on our website. www.ag.state.oh.us or http://www.auditor.state.oh.us/OpenGovernmentUnit/Default.htm
The OTA is working with other local government associations to organize regional trainings for local officials or their designees. When more information about these training opportunities become available, we will let you know.
Finally, in a meeting with the AG's office on Monday, we were notified that all elected officials or their designees must have public records training prior to their term expiring. That means that all trustees and fiscal officers, or their designees, that are up for election in November will be required to have public records training prior to their term expiring on Dec. 31, 2007, and March 31, 2008, respectively. Some townships may designate the township fiscal officer as the board’s representative due to the fact that the fiscal officer handles all public records requests in the township. Should your township decide to go this route, the board of township trustees must pass a resolution designating the fiscal officer as the representative and then the fiscal officer will have until March 31, 2008, to become certified for this current term.
I recognize that this is a lot of information. Thank you for your patience with us on this issue. We are working diligently to provide you with the most up-to-date information, as well as the best model policy and training for township government. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Heidi M. Fought