Bryce Jacobson: Keep public records public |

Bryce Jacobson: Keep public records public

Bryce Jacobson

— The state of Colorado Senate and House approved Senate Bill 45 in April of this year, and it takes effect today.

The bill caps how much record keepers, such as municipalities and counties, can charge for copies of records at 25 cents per page. Prior to today the cap was $1.25 and many of these agencies were charging just that, not a penny less.

With the pricing structure that was in place until yesterday, Colorado was charging more than any other state in the nation. At 25 cents per page, Colorado will be in the middle of the pack, but states such as Missouri and Texas have adopted laws that make it less costly for the residents to get access to public records, capping costs at 10 cents per page.

Charging $1.25 per copy was shameful, especially when many private businesses, such as Kinko’s, are able to make a profit at 10 cents per page.

I want to applaud the state lawmakers for approving this bill. The cost of producing, storing, upgrading data and paying the employees to do so is already paid for by the taxpayer. The cost of making copies should be the only additional cost incurred by the taxpayer in order to have copies for your own records.

Although I am pleased with the progress, I want more. I may be looking a gift horse in the mouth, but I urge record keepers to take a look at their real cost of making a copy, and only the cost of making a copy, and make the fee charged to the taxpayer be a break-even amount. Build no profit into the charge.

The bill does not require record keepers to charge $25 cents; it simply caps the amount you can charge.

Public records are just that – public – and they should not be used to make a profit.

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