News and Tribune

April 15, 2014

Public records ordinance requested in Floyd County

Sheriff says he is being sued by for-profit company

By CHRIS MORRIS
chris.morris@newsandtribune.com

NEW ALBANY — A “for-profit” company in Tennessee has filed a public records request with Floyd County Sheriff Darrell Mills for 10 years worth of jail book-in photos and copies of uncashed commissary checks. Similar requests were made throughout the state.

Mills has not complied with the request and has since been sued by the company, and now he wants the Floyd County Commissioners to consider an ordinance that would limit such requests in the future from for-profit companies looking to make money from public records — at the county’s expense.

“That would take a lot of man hours and we are already short-staffed,” Mills said of compiling the information requested. “I always follow state statute and grant public records request to anyone who wants them. But I don’t think public records should be used for financial gain.”

The commissioners said they would take the request under advisement. An attorney with the Indiana Sheriff’s Association is representing Mills and other sheriffs in Indiana in the lawsuit.

Georgetown resident Joseph Moore, however, said public records request should always be granted no matter what the individual or company plans to do with the information.

“I am concerned with any effort to limit public records requests,” Moore said. “No county office should refuse a request.”

George Mouser agreed.

“People have the right to any public record for any reason ... for profit or for whatever reason,” he told the commissioners. “I think you are at a place where you should use extreme caution [in considering the ordinance].”

Mills said records in his office are up to date, but he doesn’t think it’s fair to the taxpayers to use his employees to take days to compile information for a company to make money off of at the county’s expense. The company would make money by contacting people whose names are on the uncashed checks and offer to attempt to collect the money for a fee.

“You are going to take away my staff to research 10 years of records for a for-profit company. I don’t think that is in the best interest of the taxpayers,” Mills said.

SEWER BATTLE

Last week the New Albany City Council approved an ordinance to extend its sewer control to four miles outside of the city boundaries, excluding Georgetown’s territory. Though New Albany retains the authority to have first say on sewer service for new developments in the area, City Attorney Shane Gibson said there’s no imminent proposal to extend wastewater lines into the county, according to a News and Tribune article April 8.

However, Mouser asked the commissioners to enact an ordinance to protect county residents from being forced to tap into city sewer lines. They said they would take the request under advisement.

Mouser said he has been opposed to rural sewers for 40 years and said an ordinance is needed to protect residents who have functioning septic systems.

“I hope you act quickly on this,” he said of his Onsite Wastewater District ordinance. “We don’t want them in the county.”

EDWARDSVILLE CLEANUP

Edwardsville clean-up day is Saturday, April 26, beginning at 8:30 a.m. starting at Tunnel Hill Christian Church Pavilion. Breakfast and lunch will be provided.