County gets updates to public records policy

It is official: Anderson County now has a policy that mandates how the county will handle public records requests.

In a 16-0 vote at the Commission meeting last Monday, County Commission voted to amend the public records policy they adopted at the Commission meeting in May that would bring the county in compliance with the Tennessee Public Records Act, an act established by the State of Tennessee that requires government entities subject to the TPRA to establish a written public records policy by July 1, the date it is slated to go into effect.

The motion for approval was to adopt a uniform public records policy that would apply to all county departments.

Department heads and elected officials had the option of choosing to adopt their own records policy, as long as it fell under the state’s guidelines regarding public records requests, but no one came forward with such a request.

Anderson County attorney Jay Yeager, who was tasked by county officials with writing the policy earlier this year, recommended the policy be adopted as amended so the county would meet the State of Tennessee’s requirement that all 95 counties have a policy in place by the end of this month.

Yeager presented commissioners Monday with a revised policy reflecting the changes showing where the county will have in place a unified set of guidelines in how to handle public records requests.

“We’ll all be on the same policy throughout county government, which makes it easier to administer. I think that’s a wonderful thing,” said Yeager, commenting on how the unified policy would make adopting a new policy easier.

Under the policy the county has adopted, Russell Bearden, Human Resources Director for the county, will serve as the county’s public records custodian. All requests for public records will be made to and processed by the county’s human resources department, which will then direct requests to the appropriate departments.

The policy commission adopted sets the fee for obtaining public records at 15 cents per page for black and white copies and 50 cents per page for color copies, which seems to be the standard fee, Yeager said, and follows state statutes.

If the time to process the records request exceeds one hour the requestor “will be charged for the reimbursement of personnel expense at the hourly wage rate for the employee(s) utilized,” the policy states.

The public records policy will be accessible on the county’s website,