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Official requests may incur costs

PHOTO/FILE

A South Wairarapa council committee has recommended official information requests be added to the list of fees and charges in the coming financial year.

Once fully approved, the council would charge $38 per half hour to answer requests in excess of one hour.

The proposed half-hourly rate matches the charge recommended by the government for Official Information Act requests.

Up until the end of March this year, South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] had received 31 requests for information under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act [LGOIMA].

Of these, 11 were answered after 20 working days.

At Thursday’s Finance, Audit, and Risk Committee meeting, policy and governance manager Amanda Bradley said the council had always had the ability under LGOIMA to charge for information in certain circumstances.

“We’ve had an informal process in place but we haven’t ever put it in our fees and charges list.

“We just wanted to formalise the fact that we can charge.”

She said the impact of LGOIMAs and media inquiries was more significant for smaller councils that did not have the resources or dedicated LGOIMA teams.

“It does put on a lot of stress when we get an increase in LGOIMA rates over a particular issue or time.

“We have to, under the legislation, respond to them in certain timeframes, and it can take a toll on people’s other work to do this.”

She told elected members she wanted the council to upload LGOIMA responses on its website to improve transparency and efficiency for similar requests.

Carterton District Council [CDC] added LGOIMAs to their proposed list of fees and charges for 2022-23 earlier this year.

They would be charging $60 per half hour to answer requests in excess of one hour.

CDC chief executive Geoff Hamilton said the council would not charge for “reasonable requests from ratepayers or local media”. — NZLDR

  • Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air.

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