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NOGC stops Washoe County from adopting new public record fee proposal

The Nevada Open Government Coalition spoke out in strong opposition of Washoe County Resolution No. R21-063. This proposal sought to charge the public for “personnel time expended to fill a request that exceeds 2 hours of time.” Charging fees for personnel time is a clear violation of the Nevada Public Records Act (NPRA) and undermines its central purpose to serve as a check on government power through a broad right of public access to information.

The NPRA is clear that governmental entities are not allowed to pass along overhead – including regular staff time – to people exercising their right to access public records. The NPRA states:

“Actual cost” means the direct cost incurred by a governmental entity in the provision of a public record, including, without limitation, the cost of ink, toner, paper, media and postage. The term does not include a cost that a governmental entity incurs regardless of whether or not a person requests a copy of a particular public record.

The first sentence limits fees to “direct” costs. Personnel costs—which includes items like salary that are paid regardless of time expended—cannot possibly be considered a direct cost incurred as a result of fulfilling a public records request. Had the Legislature wanted to permit governmental entities to charge for any request that takes more than two hours to fulfill, it would have done so. Including staff costs that the governmental entity would incur regardless of whether the PRA request was made is thus expressly prohibited by the statute.

Watch the video of the meeting above, and read our testimony letter below.

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