- About the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
- The Rights of Requesters and their Responsibilities
- Your FOIA Rights
- Making a Request for Records From the City of Lynchburg
- The City of Lynchburg's Responsibilities in Responding to Your Request
- Virginia Freedom of Information Act Fee Charging Policy
- General Document Duplication Charges of Public Records
- Types of Records
- Commonly Used Exemptions
- Policy Regarding the Use of Exemptions @(Model.BulletStyle == CivicPlus.Entities.Modules.Layout.Enums.BulletStyle.Decimal ? "ol" : "ul")>
About the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
To request records from the City of Lynchburg, you may direct your request to any City department or the City's Chief FOIA Officer, Dianne Tanner, Paralegal. You may also contact her with questions you have concerning requesting records from the City of Lynchburg. In addition, the Freedom of Information Advisory Council is available to answer any questions you may have about the FOIA. The Council may be contacted by email or by phone at 804-225-3056 or toll-free at 866-448-4100.
The Rights of Requesters and the Responsibilities
On this page, you can view the rights of requesters and the responsibilities of the City of Lynchburg under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act. The Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), § 2.2-3700 et seq. of the Code of Virginia, guarantees citizens of the Commonwealth and representatives of the media access to public records held by public bodies, public officials, and public employees.
A public record is any writing or recording, regardless of whether it is a paper record, an electronic file, an audio or video recording, or any other format, that is prepared or owned by, or in the possession of a public body or its officers, employees or agents in the transaction of public business. All public records are presumed to be open, and may only be withheld if a specific, statutory exemption applies.
The policy of the FOIA states that the purpose of the FOIA is to promote increased awareness by all persons of governmental activities. In furthering this policy, the FOIA requires that the law be interpreted liberally, in favor of access, and that any exemption allowing public records to be withheld must be interpreted narrowly.
Your FOIA Rights
- You have the right to request to inspect or receive copies of public records, or both.
- You have the right to request that any charges for the requested records be estimated in advance.
- If you believe that your FOIA rights have been violated, you may file a petition in district or circuit court to compel compliance with FOIA. Alternatively, you may contact the FOIA Council for a nonbinding advisory opinion.
Making a Request for Records From the City of Lynchburg
- You may request records by U.S. Mail, fax, email, in person, or over the phone. FOIA does not require that your request be in writing, nor do you need to state that you are requesting records under FOIA specifically. From a practical perspective, it may be helpful to both you and the person receiving your request to put your request in writing. This allows you to create a record of your request. It also gives us a clear statement of what records you are requesting, so that there is no misunderstanding over a verbal request. However, we cannot refuse to respond to your FOIA request if you elect to not put it in writing.
- Your request must identify the records you are seeking with "reasonable specificity." This is a common-sense standard. It does not refer to or limit the volume or number of records that you are requesting; instead, it requires that you be specific enough so that we can identify and locate the records that you are seeking. We would be glad to work with you to help identify records that would be responsive to your interest.
- Your request must ask for existing records or documents. FOIA gives you a right to inspect or copy records; it does not apply to a situation where you are asking general questions about the work of the City of Lynchburg, nor does it require the City of Lynchburg to create a record that does not exist. However, because we value open communication, we will try to accommodate any reasonable request for information about City operations.
- You may choose to receive electronic records in any format used by the City of Lynchburg in the regular course of business. For example, if you are requesting records maintained in an Excel database, you may elect to receive those records electronically, via email or on a computer disk, or to receive a printed copy of those records
- If we have questions about your request, please cooperate with staff's efforts to clarify the type of records that you are seeking, or to attempt to reach a reasonable agreement about a response to a large request. Making a FOIA request is not an adversarial process, but we may need to discuss your request with you to ensure that we understand what records you are seeking.
The City of Lynchburg's Responsibilities in Responding to Your Request
- The City of Lynchburg must respond to your request within five working days of receiving it. "Day One" is considered the day after your request is received. The five-day period does not include weekends or holidays.
- The reason behind your request for public records from the City of Lynchburg is irrelevant, and you do not have to state why you want the records before we respond to your request. The FOIA does, however, allow the City of Lynchburg to require you to provide your name and legal address.
- The FOIA requires that the City of Lynchburg make one of the following responses to your request within the five-day time period:
- Provide you with the records that you have requested in their entirety.
- Withhold all of the records that you have requested because all of the records are subject to a specific statutory exemption. If all of the records are being withheld, we must send you a response in writing. That written response must identify the volume and subject matter of the records being withheld, and state the specific section of the Code of Virginia that allows us to withhold the records.
- Provide some of the records that you have requested, but withhold other records. We cannot withhold an entire record if only a portion of it is subject to an exemption. In that instance, we may redact the portion of the record that may be withheld and must provide you with the remainder of the record. We must provide you with a written response stating the specific section of the Code of Virginia that allows portions of the requested records to be withheld.
- Inform you in writing that the requested records cannot be found or do not exist (we do not have the records you want). However, if we know that another public body has the requested records, we must include contact information for the other public body in our response to you.
- If it is practically impossible for the City of Lynchburg to respond to your request within the five-day period, we must state this in writing, explaining the conditions that make the response impossible. This will allow us seven additional working days to respond to your request, giving us 12 working days to respond to your request.
- If you make a request for a very large number of records, and we feel that we cannot provide the records to you within 12 working days without disrupting our other organizational responsibilities, we may petition the court for additional time to respond to your request. However, FOIA requires that we make a reasonable effort to reach an agreement with you concerning the production of the records before we go to court to ask for more time.
Virginia Freedom of Information Act Fee Charging Policy
(This policy applies generally to the City and its departments. Constitutional Officers and the Electoral Board and General Registrar of the City may have differing policies.)
The City of Lynchburg, Virginia (the "City") values transparency and strives to provide open records in a convenient, cost-efficient, timely, and lawful manner.
- Under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (the "VFOIA"), the City may make reasonable charges not to exceed the actual costs incurred in accessing, duplicating, supplying, or searching for requested public records and must make all reasonable efforts to supply the same at the lowest possible cost. The City cannot and will not impose any extraneous, intermediary, or surplus fees or expenses to recoup the general costs associated with creating or maintaining records or transacting general business.
- Reasonable charges" shall mean City staff time spent searching for and producing requested public records, duplicating costs, postage, or any other costs directly related to supplying the requested public records. In assessing reasonable charges, the City will charge the lowest paid hourly rate for the employee that is capable of performing and completing the respective request. The charge will be calculated by multiplying such employee's hourly pay rate by the actual time spent performing and completing the request.
- Prior to conducting a search for public records requested, the City will notify the requester in writing that reasonable charges will be made for performing and completing the request and an estimate of such costs shall be provided to the requestor in advance of supplying the requested records.
- No Fees will be charged by the city for simple VFOIA request. (Whether a VFOIA request is "simple" shall be at the sole discretion of the City's Chief VFOIA Officer.)
- If the City estimates it will cost more than $200 to perform and complete a request for public records, the requestor will be required to pay a monetary deposit to the City in accordance with the requirements of the VFOIA before the City will proceed with performing and completing the request. Instructions on how to make such a deposit will be provided as necessary by the City's Chief VFOIA Officer.
- If a requestor owes the City fees related to a previous request for public records that have remained unpaid for more than 30 days, the City will require payment of the previous past-due amounts before performing and completing the requestor's new request for public records.
General Document Duplication Charges of Public Records
|Sides of Paper / Color
|8 1/2 inches by 11 inches
|8 1/2 inches by 14 inches
|11 inches by 17 inches
|Single-sided, black and white
|Double-sided, black and white
Non-Standard Document Duplication/Electronic Media Duplication - Actual Cost
Duplication requiring USB or other computer drives/CDs/DVDs - Actual Cost
Types of Records
The following is a general description of the types of records held by the City of Lynchburg:
- Records related to the activities of the governing body, the Lynchburg City Council, including agendas, reports, and minutes of meetings
- Records related to the various Council-appointed boards and commissions that operate in the City
- Personnel records concerning employees and officials of the City of Lynchburg
- Records of contracts, leases, memoranda of understanding, agreements, and similar documents which the City has entered into
- Correspondence and working papers of the City Manager
- A variety of law enforcement records including budgets, audits, and periodic reports.
- Communications with citizens
- A variety of tax and financial records
- Records related to property, including ownership, land use, zoning, assessment, and taxation
- Records of the City's purchase of goods and services
- Records are kept by the various City departments in their daily activities such as Community Development, Public Works, Water Resources, Parks and Recreation, Human Services, Library and Museum, Economic Development, etc.
Much of the information listed above is available through the City's website. If you are unsure whether the City of Lynchburg has the record(s) you seek, please contact FOIA Officer:
- Phone: 434-455-3990
- Mail: 900 Church Street, Lynchburg, VA 24504
Commonly Used Exemptions
The Code of Virginia allows any public body to withhold certain records from public disclosure. The City of Lynchburg commonly withholds records subject to the following exemptions:
- Personnel records (§ 2.2-3705.1 (1) of the Code of Virginia)
- Records subject to attorney-client privilege (§ 2.2-3705.1 (2)) or attorney work product (§ 2.2-3705.1 (3))
- Vendor proprietary information (§ 2.2-3705.1 (6))
- Records relating to the negotiation and award of a contract, prior to a contract being awarded (§ 2.2-3705.1 (12))
- Correspondence and working papers of the City Manager (§ 2.2-3705.7 (2))
- Certain types of law enforcement records (§ 2.2-3706 (A)(B)(C)(D)(E) and (F)
- The public libraries' records of patrons and the items they borrow (§ 2.2-3705.7 (3))
- Records of public assistance and social services (§ 2.2-3705.5 (4))
- Customer account records for the City's utility services (§ 2.2-3705.7 (7))
- Architectural plans, specifications, and tactical security plans for City buildings and facilities (§ 2.2-3705.2 (6))
- Names, addresses, and telephone numbers of persons making complaints of zoning violations (§ 2.2-3705.3 (10))
- Citizens' email addresses furnished to the City, if the citizen requests that the address not be disclosed (§ 2.2-3705.1 (4))
- Records related to claims under the City's self-insurance plan (§ 2.2-3705.1 (9))
- Individual tax returns of persons or entities subject to income, estate, personal property, sales, meals, lodging or business license taxes (§ 2.2-3705.7 (1))
Policy Regarding the Use of Exemptions
The general policy of the City is to invoke the exemptions listed above in order to: protect the safety and privacy of citizens and of City employees and officials; to protect the City's bargaining position and negotiating strategy in contractual and legal matters; to protect the correspondence and working papers of the City Manager; to protect the security of City buildings and facilities; and, to avoid jeopardizing a criminal investigation or prosecution, endangering witnesses or investigators, or causing a suspect to flee or destroy evidence.
Any requestor can make an online comment on the quality of assistance provided by the public body on the Freedom of Information Advisory Council's website by visiting the FOIA Advisory Council website.
Dianne TannerChief FOIA Officer, ParalegalPhone: 434-455-3980
Lynchburg Police Department
Phone: 434-455-6052Fax: 434-455-0638
Edward WheelerCommissioner of the Revenue FOIA Officer, Financial Professional IIIPhone: 434-455-3881
Bethany A. S. HarrisonCommonwealth's AttorneyPhone: 434-455-3760