Public Records Request

Tacoma Public Utilities, in accordance with the Washington State Public Records Act RCW 42.56, allows for the inspection or copies of records unless specifically exempted by law. After submitting a request, you may be contacted to clarify your request or to coordinate delivery of records.

Public records are any writing prepared, owned, used, or retained by us, regardless of physical form, that reflect the conduct or performance of the utility. Also, a valid public record request seeks a specific and identifiable public document. This does not include a general request for information. If you are not aware of the title of a specific record, please provide additional information such as subject matter, dates, location or the persons/issues involved, and the account numbers which will help staff locate records responsive to your specific request.

About Public Records Requests

How we send the records

You will be able to download records from the Public Records Request Center when they are ready for disclosure. Alternatively, you can receive them by U.S. mail or by picking them up. For large volumes of documents, especially on paper, we can set an appointment for you to inspect them at our office.

Fees

Payments must be made by cash, money order or check payable to the City Treasurer

  • Printed paper copies (black and white)- $0.15 per page
    • There may be additional charges for rush orders, special mailings or oversized materials. If you would like a cost estimate before processing, please include that with your initial request.
  • Scanned copies – $0.10 per page
  • Electronic files or electronic attachments – $0.05 per every four electronic files or attachments uploaded to an email, cloud storage service, or other electronic delivery system.
  • Transmission of records via electronic format – $0.10 per 1 GB
  • Digital media storage – At cost
  • Mailing costs – At cost
  • CD/DVD Discs – $1.00 per disc
  • Mailing materials – $0.45 per any size envelope

Large requests may require:

  • A deposit of 10% of the estimated cost of copies before they are made
  • That staff provide copies in installments
  • Advance payment before providing further installments

We may require a deposit equal to 10% of the estimated cost prior to duplication of records. In the event we require a deposit, we will notify you. If the duplication and deposit fees equal less than the amount you deposit, we will return the difference to you.

In person at Tacoma Public Utilities

  • There is no fee for inspecting public records.
  • You must arrange for an inspection time in advance.
  • Inspections must take place between 8 a.m. and noon, and 1 to 5 p.m. weekdays, except state-recognized holidays
  • After inspection, you can ask staff to make copies. Staff can send the copies electronically or make paper copies.

The fee schedule is maintained by the Public Records Office and updated administratively as costs change. All payments shall be made by cash, money order, or check payable to the City Treasurer. These are the only accepted forms of payment.

Considerations

Unclaimed records
If you have not reviewed or claimed your requested records within 30 days of notice that the records are available, or if you fail to pay, the Public Records Office may close the request.

Rights of others
If records you request contain information that might affect the rights of others, the public records officer may give notice and allow time for action by the other parties before providing the records.

Later discovered documents
After a request is filled, the Public Records Office may become aware of additional documents that existed during the time of the request. We will provide those promptly.

Confidentiality
Your public records request cannot be kept confidential. Your request becomes public record and can be requested by others. The public records officer or designee forwards public records requests to the departments holding records and to third parties who have interest in the records you request.

What happens to my request?

General city records requests are received by the Public Records Office. From there, your request is sent to the appropriate department (s) for a search for records. After a search is conducted, you will be contacted by the Public Records Office. Police Records are released directly from the Police Records Unit.

What information should I include in my request?

It’s helpful to include as much information as you can, such as document titles, specific dates, times, addresses, and case numbers. This allows city staff to more effectively locate documents pertaining to your request.

What if my request is for a variety of records?

If your request contains a variety of records from multiple departments, please select which departments you believe will have records, or “Other” and “Unknown/I don’t know”. The Public Disclosure staff member will help to determine which departments need to receive the request.

Will my request for records be kept confidential?

No, your request becomes a public record and can be requested and/or viewed by others.

What is third party notification?

If records contain information that may affect others and may be exempt from disclosure, the City may send a notice to those parties informing them of the request prior to providing the records to the requestor.

When is a request considered abandoned?

If a requestor fails to fulfill their obligations to inspect, respond to clarification from by City staff, or make any payment within 30 calendar days, the City may close the request and consider it abandoned.

What are exemptions to the Public Records Act?

Listings of the most common exemptions are found at RCW 42.56.210-510. In addition, other Washington laws may prohibit or exempt the disclosure of other classes of information.

How does the City handle large requests?

Large requests may be handled in installments. A 10 percent deposit of estimated costs may be required prior to release of any records.

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