The Colorado Open Records Act, or CORA, is costing the city of Salida money right now. As of Thursday, the cost of recent requests for records and emails totals more than $20,000.
That includes $6,719.53 in city expenses and more than $14,000 in costs related to pulling, reviewing and redacting sensitive information by the mayor, the mayor pro-tem, the city attorney and, prior to her departure, former City Administrator Dara MacDonald.
Deputy City Clerk Christian Samora said the city website was recently updated to include the requests made to date in 2016. A total of 51 CORA requests have been made by 25 individuals. Three of the 51 requests were made by The Mountain Mail. Many of the requests involve hundreds of pages of information.
“We have to do it; it’s a citizen’s right,” said Mayor Jim LiVecchi. “We want the information out there. But it’s been a stretch for the staff and council given the scope of work and the short staff right now.”
CORA exists as a way for Colorado residents and the general public to be able to request information related to the running of a town, city, county or state office or other public service entity. Much information is already public – the minutes of city council meetings or council-appointed committees, for instance.
However, people can also request information regarding things like written records of conversations, the emails of public officials and the records of complaints or concerns submitted to a municipal authority.
Although the public is typically not charged, there are costs involved in the CORA requests. Staff time is involved in verifying the request, locating the files and copying them in whatever form is requested.
Review time is needed by elected officials and the city attorney to make sure the documents do not contain any information that cannot be shared (personal or confidential information about individuals who have not given permission for the information to be shared). That information is redacted prior to fulfillment of the CORA request.