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Open Records

All Kentucky local and state government employees, groups, and affiliated organizations must disclose all of their records with few exceptions. Before the Open Records Act was passed, only those with a stated “special interest” could view government documents. Now, "residents of the commonwealth" -- defined by KRS 61.870 -- can request almost any public record for any reason, even if it leads to inconvenience or embarrassment to public officials or others. Cities must adopt and implement open records policies and procedures that include the following:

  • Public agencies must respond to a request to inspect records within five business days;
  • Only residents of the commonwealth as defined by KRS 61.870(10) may request public records; 
  • Any request must include a statement that the individual is a resident of the commonwealth; 
  • Updated open records policy must include both the mailing address and email address at which the custodian may receive requests; 
  • If the public agency has a website, it must publish its open records policy on the website as well as a copy of the OAG standardized form, though the public agency cannot require a citizen to use the form for a request and must accept a complete request in any form; and 
  • Resume in-person inspection for public records requested under the Act.

Cities are required to disclose how they comply with the Open Records Act so that citizens are able to easily access records of interest to them. Actual guidelines for compliance are flexible, as long as they include certain minimum requirements:

  1. The principal office of the public agency and its regular office hours
  2. The title and address of the official custodian of the public agency’s records
  3. The fees to be charged for copies of public records
  4. The procedures to be followed for requesting public records

Exemptions to this rule apply to personal information, information that may lead to undue advantage among businesses, assessment questions for licensure testing, confidential scientific research, among others. While these are exempt from mandatory disclosure, they are not required to be withheld, and a public official can decide what is prudent as an open record.

Certain procedures are required of any individual seeking information through this act. A custodian -- which is the city clerk in Kentucky cities -- must be contacted in order to inspect any document. Certain formalities must be in place between that official and the citizen requesting access in order to ensure the safety of any inspected documents as well as the efficiency of providing them.