The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office has lowered its charge on photocopies for open records requests from 25 cents per page to seven cents. The change amounts to a 72 percent savings from the previous price for any citizen or journalist who acquires open records on physical paper copies.
“Our fees are the among the lowest in the country, for all the services we offer,” said Secretary of State Scott Gessler. “Coloradans deserve transparency from their government, without jumping through unnecessary hoops. Cutting our [photocopy] fee is yet another way to show that we can reform government to make it more efficient and responsive.”
Charges by governments to cover costs for open records have been a topic under the Gold Dome this session. The move by Gessler comes as the General Assembly has sent a bill to the Governor’s desk that, if signed, will set a limit on hourly fees that the state or any local government can charge for research and retrieval.
Most governments across the state charge the maximum fee allowed by law for photocopies, 25 cents per page, an amount set in 2007. One of the originators of that law, former Senator Andy McElhaney (R-Colorado Springs), originally wanted to set a lower maximum charge along the lines of 10 cents per copy, but said a deal was struck in the midst of intense lobbying from government agencies who were opposed to the bill at the time. McElhaney later earned a “Friend of the First” award from the Colorado Press Association for his efforts to lower the costs of open records. At the time some agencies charged $1.00 or more per page.
Just over a month ago, CompleteColorado.com published a report showing the true base costs for production of a single photocopy was unlikely to exceed five cents, in rare cases ten cents for all agencies where we acquired a copy of the agency’s photocopier contract.
The move by Gessler and his office creates one of the lowest and most aggressive pricing models for paper photocopies, along with a state like New Jersey, which limits prices at five cents per page for standard size copies.
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