“Any person may inspect or copy any public record of a public agency as follows...”
– 1 V.S.A. § 316
The language in 1 V.S.A. § 316 generally describes the parameters under which individuals may inspect or copy records. Act 231 of 1976 set forth the provisions that established the times when individuals could access records; allowed agencies to charge individuals for the cost of physically copying records; and set limits on what copying services agencies would be required to provide.
The most significant changes to this section were enacted as part of Act 159 of 1996, adding language detailing how actual copying costs are to be calculated and giving the Secretary of State the authority to adopt by rule a uniform schedule for public record charges.
Act 159 charged the Secretary of State to establish the "actual cost" of providing a copy of a public record and the amount that may be charged for staff time "consider the following only:
The results of a 1993 survey of "actual costs" charges being assessed by municipalities and a similar survey in 1995 of state agencies, which showed significant inconsistencies and a wide range of interpretations of "actual cost," was the impetus for a uniform schedule. The Secretary of State was also charged with doing a survey following the passing of the first "actual cost" rule and reporting its findings by January 1998.
Act 159, which began as H.440 in March 1995 with a focus on public access and privacy, particularly in light of the increased use of electronic mail and systems by public agencies, transitioned over the summer and fall of 1995 to a new bill draft, which was introduced in February 1996 as H.780. Given the emphasis on electronic records during hearings held by the House Government Operations Committee, the final act further clarified which formats individuals could expect to receive copies of records based on the original format of the records.
Vermont State Archives & Records Administration
Tanya Marshall, State Archivist & Director
1078 Route 2, Middlesex
Montpelier, VT 05633-7701
Phone & Hours
Main Line: 802-828-3700
Office Hours: 7:45 AM to 4:30 PM, M-F
Reference Room: 9 AM to 4 PM, M-F