Requesting Public Information

The Texas Public Information Act (sometimes called the open records act) is in Texas Government Code chapter 552. It assures that all persons have equal access to public information held by the City of Amarillo.  Most requests for information involve only three steps! Below is the Procedure for  either viewing information or to get copies, plus some General Information about the process.  We look forward to serving you.

PROCEDURE

  1. Your Request: Complete the form(s) provided below to the City department which you believe has the information you seek. You may send the request by mail, fax, or email. Clearly describe what document or information you desire. If you are not sure to which City department to send your request, then you may send it to:  City Secretary, P.O. Box 1971, Amarillo, TX 79105, or fax to (806) 378-9394, or email to Frances.Hibbs@amarillo.gov
    Amarillo Police Department Information / Records Request Form
    Public Information Request Form
  1. Our Response:  Requests are answered by City staff as soon as practicable, in the order received, along with other work in progress. The law allows City staff up to ten business days after the date we receive your request for a response. Within that time one of these actions will occur: (a) the information will be made available to you; (b) staff may contact you to seek clarification of your request or to assist you in narrowing an overly broad request; (c) the information may be withheld based on prior legal precedent which will be stated;  (d) staff will call to make an appointment for you to see or receive information that is in deep storage or not otherwise readily available; or, (e) a letter will be sent to the Texas Attorney General asking for a ruling on whether the information you requested is public information.
  1. Fees: To keep taxes as low as possible, the City does charge fees to help cover the cost of providing the information you requested. These fees are limited by state law. The most common fees: photocopies are 10¢ per page for up to 50 pages and .15¢ per page from page 51 to end. Staff time is charged only when the information is either not readily available or requires extensive redacting of confidential portions. When applicable, staff time is a maximum of $15/hour inclusive of benefits. When information is mailed, regular first class rates apply. (For a complete list of fees, click the link above for the Request Form; all fees are listed on page two.)

Estimates & Deposits: If staff estimates that satisfying your request will cost $40.00 or more, then you will receive a written estimate. By law you have ten days to either reply saying you accept the charges, or to narrow your  request to save money, or withdraw your request. Your request is automatically withdrawn if you do not reply in ten days. If staff estimates your request will cost $100 or more (or you owe prior unpaid fees for information that reach that sum), then you will receive a letter itemizing the amount and you must pay a 50% deposit of the estimated cost plus sums due, or narrow your request to withdraw it.

OTHER INFORMATION

  • The general rule under the Texas Public Information Act is that most information possessed by the City is available to the public. However, this law also lists over 80 exceptions—that is, kinds of information which are not available to the public. If the documents you request contain both public and confidential information, then the confidential portion will be removed and the public portion released to you.
  • Sometimes information held by the City is confidential for a while but later it becomes available as public information. (Examples: details of a pending real estate negotiation or an active police investigation are not public  information until the investigation is closed or the negotiation is presented for a final vote in a  City Council meeting.)
  • The law does not require City staff to do research or to perform calculations for you. The staff is only required to disclose public information that currently exists as of the date of your request. Staff is not required to create information that does not exist. Staff will not honor a “standing” or “permanent” request for information that comes out periodically; you must ask for the information after each period.
  • If your request is for routine information that a department commonly releases, then your request will be handled by that department. However, if your request is for unusual information, highly sensitive information, or involves pending or threatened civil lawsuit or a criminal investigation, then you request will be forwarded for review by the City’s Legal Department.
  • If the City must write to the Texas Attorney General for a determination of whether the information you request is public or confidential, then you will receive a copy of that letter which explains the City’s concerns. The letter will explain that you may write to the A.G. in support of releasing the information.