Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Information
The principle mandate of the Freedom of Information Act provides that each public body shall make available to any person for inspection, or upon submission of a written request, to provide copies of any requested records that are subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. Records that are exempt from disclosure by state or federal law will not be provided.
The FOIA does not require governmental bodies to create new records or answer questions. A request must ask for records or information already in existence.
You may learn more about Bay County's FOIA policy by clicking on the FOIA Procedures and Guidelines or FOIA Summary links below. Printed copies of the FOIA Procedures and Guidelines and FOIA Summary are available in the County Executive's Office, Bay County Building, 515 Center Avenue, Suite 401, Bay City, Michigan.
Court Records Requests
Courts are not subject to FOIA. Public documents that have been filed in a case are not subject to FOIA and should not be requested through FOIA. Requests for Court records need to be made at the Bay County Court Facility located at 1230 Washington Avenue, Bay City, Michigan, 48708.
Submit a Request
Your request must sufficiently describe the requested public record with relevant details such as names, dates, and department retaining the records, so that the FOIA Coordinator can find the requested record within a reasonable amount of time and with a reasonable amount of effort. Requests must also include requestor’s full name, valid mailing address and phone number or email address. Additional identifying information may be requested in order to complete a search for the requested records. A written request submitted electronically is not deemed received by a public body’s FOIA coordinator until one business day after the electronic transmission is made.
Please try to avoid “any and all.” A request must “describe the public records sufficiently to enable the public body to find the public records…” MSA4.1801(3). If the scope of your request is too broad for County personnel to locate the requested records, your request may be denied or you will be presented with a request for a deposit.
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to Bay County may be submitted by any of the following means:
- Email FOIA Coordinator: email@example.com (Please include FOIA in the subject line of the email. You must also state your full name and provide a valid mailing address when emailing a request.)
- Fax: (989) 895-2094
- In-Person/By U.S. Mail: Bay County FOIA Coordinator, 515 Center Avenue, Suite 402, Bay City, Michigan 48708.
- Online: Submit a FOIA Request Form.
Bay County will respond within five business days from the date the request is received. If needed, the County may issue a notice extending for up to ten additional business days the time it has to respond to the request. You may further extend the time for a response in writing.
The County will respond to your request in one of the following ways:
- Grant the request;
- Issue a written notice denying the request;
- Grant the request in part and issue a written notice denying in part the request;
- Issue a notice indicating that due to the nature of the request the County needs an additional 10 business days to respond; or
- Issue a written notice indicating that the public record requested is available at no charge on the County’s website.
If the request is granted, or granted in part, the County will ask that payment be made for the allowable fees associated with responding to the request before the public record is made available.
If the cost of processing the request is expected to exceed $50, or if you have not paid for a previously granted request, the County will require a deposit before processing the request.
The FOIA statute contains several permitted exemptions. The FOIA is intended to be a pro-disclosure statute; therefore exemptions are narrowly interpreted to permit disclosure, where possible. If a requested document contains material that is exempt and other material that is nonexempt,the County may disclose the nonexempt material and delete the exempt material. Please review the FOIA statute to determine if the public records you are seeking are exempt from disclosure.
Bay County may require you to reimburse the expenses associated with processing of your request for public records. If the cost of processing the request is expected to exceed $50, the County will require a deposit not to exceed ½ of the total fee before processing the request. Labor, photocopying, postage, and shipping costs will be charged at actuals and in accordance with FOIA.MCL 15.234 provides for a waiver of the first $20.00 of the fee if the requester submits an affidavit stating he or she is indigent and receiving public assistance, or if not receiving public assistance, stating facts showing an inability to pay the cost due to indigence. A requester is not eligible for this waiver if (1) the individual has previously received discounted copies of public records from Bay County twice during the same calendar year or (2) the individual requests the information in conjunction with outside parties who are offering or providing payment or other remuneration to the individual to make the request.
FOIA Policies & Information