June 24, 2010
Re: S-1212/A-559, OPRA Fees
S-1212/A-559, which would set OPRA fees at $0.05 for letter size and $0.07 for legal size, is scheduled for a full vote of both the Assembly and Senate on Monday, June 28th.
This bill is in response to the Smith v. Hudson County Register, 411 N.J. Super. 538 (App. Div. 2010). The court ruled that beginning July 1, 2010, unless and until the Legislature amends OPRA to specify otherwise or some other statute or regulation applies, public bodies could only charge the actual costs of copying. The Appellate Division went on to say that such charges may be approximated, and a margin of error of a few cents is tolerable. Public bodies will be required to adjust their “actual cost” calculation on, at least, an annual basis.
The Government Records Council issued guidance in early June advising that actual cost is limited to the cost of paper and toner only and provided a formula for records custodians to use to determine their actual cost.
We have been working with Senator Weinberg along with the Municipal Clerks Association on addressing various issues with the Open Public Records Act and will continue to do so over the summer. However, given the courts deadline it is critical that legislation is in place that sets a flat fee to avoid confusion and possible litigation.
Very truly yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.