Westland's FOIA fee structure called illegal

Sep 20, 2013

Credit atf.org

A free-market think-tank in Michigan is taking the city of Westland to court. 

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy says Westland charges way too much for documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act.

Spokesman Patrick Wright says the center wanted information about a municipal golf course.

That's when they were told Westland charges a $5 fee to start the process. It can get expensive quickly after that, Wright says.

"You're going to pay us a dollar a page and $45.61 per hour for the person who's doing the copying, collating and envelope stuffing," Wright says the Mackinac Center was told.

"If you extrapolate $45.61, you end up with somebody making $94,000 a year. If they do, the people of Westland have to have a serious conversation with their city government," he says.

Wright also  says high fees could hinder average citizens looking for information that should be easily accessible.

The Mackinac Center filed the suit in Midland County Circuit Court Friday, claiming Westland's fee structure is illegal.

Westland City Clerk Eileen De Hart says she hadn't heard about the suit, but also says she would not discuss ongoing litigation.