BY AUDREY WEIL l TUESDAY, AUGUST 30TH 2016
EUGENE, Ore. – Lane County is charging nearly $24,000 for a public records request from the founder of openthebooks.com
Adam Andrzejewski works for the website and wants public information at no cost. He’s asking for public employee and financial information to add to his non-profit’s database of government spending.
Andrzejewski spoke at the county commissioner’s meeting Tuesday to challenge the cost of releasing the records.
"It's our money. We pay the taxes that make county government run and we deserve to see every dime of where it's spent," he said.
County commissioners said even though they’re willing to share the info he wants; the manpower it would take to provide it costs $23,487.
Andrzejewski said he wants to know Lane County employee names, they agency they work for, their start date, their title, and how much money they made last year.
But, according to the Lane County website, the only available information from his request are position titles and salaries, but no names.
Commissioners said even though the other information is public, it’s only available on W-2 forms which contain personal information that can’t be released.
All the personal information for 1,400 employees must be manually redacted.
"To pull staff off of their normal, daily work to redact 1,400 plus W-2s does come at a cost," said Devon Ashbridge, Lane County spokesperson.
The cost will total nearly $24,000.
"Either we have to go through the cost of reformatting that which is not available right now, or he can accept the information we have available for free," said Jay Bozievich, Lane County Commissioner.
But Andrzejewksi isn’t buying it.
"Your fee is draconian and it’s expressly designed to stop free speech, to stop oversight of your organization," he said.
Under Oregon law, the county isn’t required to reformat the information in the W-2s.
"We don't want the W2. We want a copy of the five fields of information from their database, information that is public information," Andrzejewksi said.
He said he works with 40,000 government units across the country and has never run into a fee close to this price.
It’s been months of back and forth. Both sides said that will continue until there’s some sort of compromise.
Andrzejewski’s mission is to track all government taxing and spending from coast to coast.