Sunshine Week 2018: FOIA Updates

It’s Your Right to Know

March 11-17, 2018

Sunshine Week lasts seven days, but it’s up to all of us to keep the sun shining on government all year. Share your local FOIA stories and other efforts on behalf of open government on Twitter using #SunshineWeek.”

During this week Bear Lake News will report on recent FOIA submissions and the response they received.

A local tax payer submitted a FOIA requesting the 2016 and 2017 W3, W2s and 1099 Misc documents as a record of the % spent on salaries and wages following the State of MI reporting online for 2016


  • Village of Bear Lake 2016
  • Census

    Name Value
    Population 282.0
    Square Mileage 0.31
  • Budget

    And in 2018 see Year End figures here.

    The request was submitted February 7, 2018. The response was received on February 13 as follows:

    I am asking for a 10 day extension for your FOIA request on;  any and all of the 2016 and 2017 Federal and State W3, W2 and 1099 Misc forms completed and/or submitted for or on behalf of the Village to be sent to me via email in electronic PDF or Word format.
    There will be a charge of $50, [NB: = 2 hours of labor charged] paid in advance for this request.  FOIA Cost document attached.
    A check can be sent to:
    Bear Lake Village
    Attention: Clerk
    PO Box 175
    Bear Lake, MI  49614

    A subsequent follow up by a different resident asked for only 2017 documents – a total of 21 (with SS# redacted) for which Baird, Cotter and Bishop PC were paid $400 to prepare in January, 2018.

    On Tue, Mar 13, 2018 at 10:47 PM:

    Under MI Freedom of Information Act (Public Act No. 442 of 1976 as amended) I hereby submit the following request:
    In looking at the attached, I see that Baird, Cotter, & Bishop PC were paid $400 in February to prepare 2017 W3, W2s and I assume the 1099 Misc?
    Past Minutes state that Baird, Cotter, & Bishop PC were hired to train the Clerk and Treasurer to properly use the Village accounting software, not perform accounting duties?
    As $400 was paid to them to send in both federal and state 2017 documents, and knowing that both agencies require filing online, Baird, Cotter & Bishop PC would have submitted and supplied a PDF electronic copy to the Village to distribute to employees and contractors.
    By my count this should translate to 9 Council, 3 Employees, 4 Planning Commission, The Blight Enforcement Officer W2s. And 3 1099s: Mead Hunt, Fleis VandenBrink and Baird Cotter themselves. A total of 20 documents requiring the redaction of social security numbers. At 5 seconds per redaction that does not meet the 15 minute threshold for requiring payment.
    As the W3, W2s and 1099 Misc had to be prepared before January 31, 2018 – I am requesting, within 5 days, an electronic copy please.

Response received March 14, 2018:

“Thank you for your FOIA request for the forms, I will need to ask for a 10 day extension on this request as I need to request the electronic forms from the CPA office.

If they have to do the redacting of information there, there could be some cost and we would need to pass along it on to you, paid in advance.
If I use my paper copies and black out all personal information, scan and email them, there would be a be a $50.00 cost paid in advance.
Please advise if you would like me to continue with this request.”

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