It is quite paradoxical that a council that campaigned on openness and transparency is now charging, as of March 28, a $10 fee (tax) for Freedom of Information Requests (FOIRs) beyond the one freebie per person.
They seem to be very indignant that taxpayers should want information that is not readily available to them unless an FOIR is made. They also seem out of sorts because people who are not media are submitting FOIRs.
Fifty three requests were made last year and this year, as of this letter’s writing, only four had been submitted so far. Only 16 FOIRs are on track to be submitted this calendar year.
Anyone who does the math on this has to ask why the extra charge? It seems very petty. Something is out of whack.
The person who does most of the FOI responses earns $85,000 a year (excluding benefits) with 65 per cent of their time to be spent on FOIRs. That’s $55,250 to be spent on FOI responses.
Yet, last year, they only did so 53 times. Three times $30 an hour worth of work, on average, on FOI responses, equals $4,770.
So what do they do for the other $50,480 in salaried time (6.8 months not doing FOIRs)?
The math just doesn’t justify the silliness of adding a frivolous and punitive $10 fee to FOIR applications.
That pot of cash that the FOIR clerk is not putting towards answering FOIRs should be refunded to the taxpayers rather than them tagging on an extra $10 for “repeat offenders” or the “usual dozen or so Google PhD scholars.”
The office of the information and privacy commissioner (OIPC) has legislated our right to free information as a part of transparency and the democratic process.
It seems that White Rock City Council feels justified in charging taxpayers for exercising those rights and even going further by discouraging residents from using the process itself.
Garry Wolgemuth, White Rock