Burgin Violates Open Records Act Again

The City of Burgin has been found to have violated the Kentucky Open Records Act for the second time this year.

In a letter dated April 3, the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office found that the city violated state law by failing to provide access to the city’s check registry. However, the City did not violate state law in making work orders available for inspection, according to the letter.

The Attorney General’s Office was ruling on an open records request made by former Burgin Police Chief Jim Caldwell. On Feb. 28, Caldwell asked the city for a list of all checks written as well as a vendor transaction report for February 2018, “all reports, photos and work orders related to the payment for repairs to Emma Sue Burkhead’s car” and work orders from January 2014 involving the meter lid or box at the Burgin Post Office.

On March 1, 2018, the city provided the vendor transaction report and documentation concerning the payments made for the repairs. But the city denied the requests for the check registry and the work orders concerning the post office meter lid. In both cases, the city referred to a previous decision from the Attorney General’s Office that they did not have to compile or print information for Caldwell.

“What the public gets is what the public agency has and in the format in which the agency has it,” the City said in a written response.

On March 5, Caldwell appealed to the Attorney General’s Office. On March 9, he added a supplement to the appeal in which he alleged documents were missing from the record and argued he was not allowed access to the “computer records” relating to the post office meter lid work orders.

Citing state law, the Attorney General ruled that Burgin violated the Open Records Act by denying access to the check registry, writing that it is a “document that is either “in the possession of or retained by” the City, and thus the public has access.”

While some records are exempt from inspection under state law, the City did not cite any such exemption, the Attorney General found.

As to Caldwell’s allegations of missing documents, the Attorney General’s Office found “no evidence that additional records exist,” writing, “A public agency cannot produce that which it does not have nor is the agency required to “prove a negative” in order to refute a claim.”

To learn more, check out this week’s issue of the Harrodsburg Herald.

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