Public Records & FOAA Requests
Welcome to the City of Biddeford’s Freedom of Access Act (FOAA) page; often referred to as the ‘right to know’. You will find on this page information about FOAA, a suggested form in order to more efficiently handle your request as well as a link to all public FOAA responses since February of 2016.
- What is the Maine Freedom of Access Act?
- What is a public record?
- What is a FOAA request?
- Does the FOAA request have to be in writing?
- What should my FOAA request say or include?
- Who should I send my FOAA request to within the City?
- Does the City have to acknowledge receipt of my request?
- Is the City authorized to ask me for clarification concerning my request?
- Does the City have to estimate how long it will take to respond to my request?
- In what form can I expect the records to be in response to my FOAA request?
- Can I be charged for the FOAA Request?
- Is the City subject to penalties for failure to comply with the Freedom of Access Act?
For more information about Maine’s Freedom of Access Act, visit Maine.gov.
The City of Biddeford maintains a record of open and closed Freedom of Access Act requests. "Open" requests refer to requests that have been received and are under review. "Closed" requests are archived requests along with the City’s response. Follow the link below to review these items.
You might find it uncommon that a community publicly posts all of the FOAA requests. It is uncommon because the law does not require a community to do so. However, the City made the decision to post all requests for the following reasons:
- The City assumes that if one person requested the information it is likely that others might also be interested. Hence, a public posting allows that opportunity.
- There is a financial savings by posting on the City website for both the person requesting the information as well as the city.
- The City believes there is a benefit in providing factual responses to any questions or requests that are made.
- There may be citizens that are interested in knowing what requests are coming in and who is making them.
- Finally, there is staff time that is involved with each request. Under the law, the first hour of time to produce the documents is at no charge to the person making the request. It is safe to assume that for each request, there is a minimum of one to two hours of staff time spent preparing each response. In many cases, the City Attorney is also involved.
Posting Process for Requests
Until most recently, this process of posting the requests was met with few issues. However, recent requests have required the City to revisit the practice. Hence, the City will use its discretion in the posting process. The City will apply the following reasonable guidelines; the application of which is based on the above goals.
- Unprofessional, vulgar or other inappropriate words in a request will not be included. Comments that are derogatory towards any person(s) will not be included.
- The City will not include any editorial or other comments regarding the reason for the request. The City will edit and/or remove any additional information that is contained within the request so that the post is limited to the FOAA request.
- The City will not post a FOAA request that is an attempt to make any confidential material public through the City’s practice of posting a FOAA request. The City has a legal duty to keep confidential information confidential. Any request that jeopardizes that legal requirement will not be posted.
- Additionally, the City, at its sole discretion, may summarize or abbreviate the text of the request in order to improve the ability of site visitors to locate specific subject matter.
In the event that the text of a request is changed or modified in any fashion, the posting will include notation that the request has been edited.
Nearly all records in the possession of the City are considered public records and are available for public review. There is a subcategory of public records called vital records. While vital records are considered public documents, the process for obtaining such records is slightly different than a formal request for public records under Maine’s Freedom of Access Act.
Vital records are maintained by emailing the City Clerk and may be obtained directly from the City Clerk’s office. Vital records include such items as birth certificates, death certificates, and marriage certificates. There are fees associated with obtaining these records. The process for obtaining these vital records and the associated fees are explained on the City Clerk’s Vital Record page.