Public Information Act
The Texas Public Information Act (sometimes called the open records act) is in Texas Government Code chapter 552. It assures that all people have equal access to public information held by the Town of Lakewood Village. Most requests for information involve only three steps! Below is the Procedure for either viewing information or obtaining copies, as well as some General Information about the process. We look forward to serving you.
Your request must be in writing. You may send the request by mail, fax, or email. Clearly describe what document or information you are requesting. Send your request to:
Town of Lakewood Village
Linda Asbell, TRMC
100 Highridge Drive
Lakewood Village, TX 75068
Or fax to (972) 292-0812
Requests are answered by staff as soon as practicable, in the order received, along with other work in progress. The law allows staff 10 days to respond to your request. Within 10 days one of these actions will occur: (a) the information will be made available to you; (b) staff will contact you to ask for clarification of your request or to assist you in narrowing an overly broad request; (c) the information will be withheld based on prior legal precedent which will be stated; (d) staff will call to make an appointment with you if your request is to simply see documents; (e) staff will contact you to notify you that more time is required to provide the information requested and will provide you with a date the requested documents will be available or, (f) a letter will be sent to the Texas Attorney General asking for a ruling on whether the information you requested is public information.
To keep taxes as low as possible, the Town may charge fees to help cover the cost of providing the information you requested. These fees are limited by state law. The most common fees: photocopies are 10¢ per page for up to 50 pages and .15¢ per page from page 51 to end. Staff time is charged only when the information is either not readily available, requires extensive redacting of confidential portions, or will require more than two hours of staff time to compile a large number of documents. When applicable, staff time is charged at a rate of $15/hour, plus a 20% overhead charge. When information is mailed, regular first class rates apply.
Estimates & Deposits:
If staff estimates that satisfying your request will cost $40.00 or more, you will receive a written estimate. By law you have ten days to: (a) reply stating you accept the charges, (b) narrow your request to reduce the cost, (c) or withdraw your request. Your request is automatically withdrawn if you do not reply in ten days. If staff estimates your request will cost $50 or more (or you owe prior unpaid fees for information that reach that sum), you will receive a letter itemizing the amount and you must pay a 50% deposit of the estimated cost plus sums due, or narrow your request to withdraw it.
The general rule under the Texas Public Information Act is that most information possessed by the Town is available to the public. However, this law also lists over 80 exceptions, or - types of information which are not available to the public. If the documents you request contain both public and confidential information, then the confidential portion will be removed and the public portion will be released to you.
Sometimes information held by the Town is confidential for a period of time but later it becomes available as public information. (Examples: details of a pending real estate negotiation or an active investigation are not public information until the investigation is closed or the negotiation is presented for a final vote at a Town Council meeting.)
The law does not require Town staff to do research or to perform calculations for you. The staff is only required to disclose public information that currently exists as of the date of your request. Staff is not required to create information that does not exist. Staff will not honor a “standing” or “permanent” request for information that comes out periodically; you must ask for the information after each period.
If your request is for routine information that is commonly releasable, then your request will be handled by Town staff. However, if your request is for unusual information, highly sensitive information, or involves pending or threatened civil lawsuit or a criminal investigation, then your request will be forwarded for review by the Town Attorney.
If the Town must write to the Texas Attorney General for a determination of whether the information you request is public or confidential, you will receive a copy of that letter which explains the Town’s concerns. The letter will explain that you may write to the A.G. in support of releasing the information.