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Sarasota News Leader September 6, 2013 Page 50 again to Ramirez. "I want to see all payments received from her for the past six months. … I'm hearing that there aren't payments being made. … We lost an assistant for an entire day." Mason said that any time a staff member had to sit with someone going through materials in a public records request, the person who sought the documents "should be charged for that [employee's time] accordingly." "I don't disagree with that," Patterson said. Nonetheless, she continued, she did not believe it would be fair to charge a person retroactively, as Barbetta had suggested. Further, she noted, the charge should be an appropriate one, not $100 an hour, for example. Vice Chairman Charles Hines listens to a presentation. Photo by Norman Schimmel People need to be told in advance if they will be required to pay for staff time, she also signed in May 2011. Staff is in the process of updating it. pointed out. That is the common local government prac- OTHER FACTORS tice around the state, Reid said. In the situation involving Ramirez, CommuRobinson did not understand why the coun- nications Department staff member Crystal ty had been charging to gather materials but Pruitt told the board, staff did not anticipate not for an employee to stay with a person re- in advance the amount of time that would be viewing the records, she told her colleagues. involved. "Had we known," Pruitt said, "we "To me, it's the same thing," Robinson pointed would have given [her] an estimate of the out. "You're expending staff time for a public number of boxes and tried to allow for the records request." amount of time. But [policy] has not been consistent over the years." Reid noted that some departments had not been charging in situations such as those Pruitt asked the commission to provide policy when people review documents at the front direction, reiterating that the Ramirez incident counter. However, he agreed that a person "is unusual. We've never had a citizen come in should be charged for the time an employee for an entire day, reviewing files. … I myself has to stay in a room for a public records re- was surprised that it took as long as it did." view. Had staff had any idea about the staff time Reid also pointed out that he inherited the that would be invested, Pruitt added, Ramirez policy from his predecessor, Jim Ley, who re- would have been asked to pay upfront.

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