The Belmont County Commissioners’ office acknowledges that it maintains many records that are used in the administration and operation of the Commissioners’ office. The records maintained by the Commissioners’ office and the ability to access them are a means to provide trust between the public and the Commissioners’ office. The Commissioners’ office maintains its records in a manner which allows the Commissioners’ office to provide the general public prompt inspection of the Commissioners’ office public records, and copies of these records within a reasonable amount of time during its regular business hours from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The Commissioners’ office has a public records policy and a Schedule of Records Retention (RC-2). If you cannot find either of these documents, please consult with one of our employees and they will provide you with a copy.
We are an open government. We welcome participation by our citizens. We believe openness leads to a better informed public, which leads to more transparent government and better public policy. Citizens are entitled to access government records and the Public Records Act should be interpreted liberally in favor of disclosure.
HOURS AND COSTS
You may make public records requests at the Commissioner’s Office in the Belmont County Courthouse between the hours of 8:30 A.M. and 4:30 P.M. on weekdays, excluding government holidays. For copies of public records on 8.5 x 11 inch one sided paper in black ink, the copy cost is five cents per page. We may require you to pay the estimated copy costs before copies are made. All other copies (photos, disks, etc.) will be provided at actual cost. If records are mailed to you, we may charge you, in advance, postage and the cost of mailing materials.
HOW TO MAKE A PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST
We will provide prompt inspection of public records and copies of public records in a reasonable period of time. When you make a request, we will ask you to complete a “Public Records Request Form,” which will help us locate the records and expedite your request. You are not legally required to fill out the form, identify yourself, or give the purpose of your request. If the records cannot be provided while you wait, we will contact you when the records are available.
DEFINITION OF PUBLIC RECORDS
Under Ohio law, public records are those items that meet all of the following elements: 1. any document, device, or item, regardless of physical form or characteristic, including an electronic record; 2. that is created or received by, or coming under the jurisdiction of a public office; and 3. that documents the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities of the office. This does not include records kept for our administrative convenience. You may ask for a copy of our records retention schedule, which will familiarize you with the types of records available.
RECORDS THAT WILL NOT BE RELEASED
Under Ohio law, some records that meet the above three elements will still be withheld from release because state or federal law makes the record confidential. Some commonly-requested records that are confidential include: 1. Attorney-client privileged information and trial preparation records 2. Social Security numbers 3. Records of ongoing investigations 4. Medical records 5. BMV records 6. Records that a judge ordered to be sealed per a statute Peace Officer, firefighter, EMT, prosecutor, assistant prosecutor, children’s services worker, or corrections officer, Residential and Familial Information [R.C. 149.43(A)(7)];
We may limit to ten the number of public records mailed to you, unless you certify in writing that you do not intend to use the records for commercial purposes. We will not provide copies of public records that we create or receive after your original request is completed.
QUESTIONS OR CONCERNS
If you have questions or concerns about Ohio Public Records law, please contact your state legislator. You can find contact information at www.Ohio.gov.