FOIA Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Will the County create a public record if one does not exist?
FOIA does not require a public body to make a compilation, summary, or report of information, nor does it require a public body to create a new public record.
Should I submit a FOIA request to ask a question about a particular department?
FOIA provides a means for citizens to receive copies of public records. It is not a means to request answers to questions. You may find the answer to your question by searching the County website or contacting a department directly.
When will I receive a response?
After the County receives a request, a public body has five business days to respond. Before the five business days have passed, the public body may take a ten-business-day extension for a total of 15 business days to respond to a request.
How do I submit a request that involves more than one County department?
If more than one County department may have records relevant to a request, you only need to submit one FOIA request. The department that receives the request will be responsible for getting the request to the other departments or the FOIA Coordinator to coordinate the response.
How to I obtain budget and financial information?
The Bay County Finance Department maintains a web page that contains financial documents, budget information and the County’s Fee Schedule. Please click here to view this information.
Can I obtain copies of Court transcripts through FOIA?
State law and the Michigan Court Rules govern how transcripts may be obtained and the costs associated with obtaining a transcript. See MCR 8.108 and MCL 600.2543 for procedures and rates.
Can I obtain Court Records through FOIA?
The Judiciary, including the District, Circuit Court and Probate Courts and the office of the County Clerk when acting in the capacity of Clerk for the Circuit Court, are not considered public bodies and therefore are not subject to FOIA. See MCL 15.232(h)(iv). For information regarding Court Records, please click here.
Are there certain records that will not be given out under FOIA?
FOIA contains many exemptions to the release of public records. In addition, numerous other statues provide exemptions for releasing documents (for example, certain types of health information are exempt from FOIA). If the records requested are exempt or partially exempt, this will be stated in the response from the County.
How can I obtain autopsy photographs?
Autopsy photographs are exempt from disclosure except for limited situations listed in MCL 333.2855(a).
Can I request vital records (birth, death, marriage) under FOIA?
No. MCL 15.243(d) states, “[r]ecords or information specifically described and exempted from disclosure by statute” are not subject to FOIA. MCL 333.2888 states, “[v]ital records and information or any part of the information contained in a vital record is not subject to the provisions of the freedom of information act, 1976 PA 442, MCL 15.231 to 15.246.” Vital records such as birth, death and marriage certificates may be obtained for a fee from the Clerk’s Office and recorded property records may be obtained for a fee from the Register of Deeds.
May I obtain medical records, books, papers or other documents used by the Medical Examiner to investigate the cause of death?
No, these records are exempt from disclosure under MCL 52.202.
Are there fees to respond to a request?
Fees may be charged for responding to a FOIA request in accordance with FOIA and the County’s Guidelines and Procedures. The County may charge a fee for: searching for, locating, and examining public records; separating and deleting (redacting) exempt from nonexempt information; duplication or publication of records; and the actual cost of mailing the public records.
Is payment in full required before the public records will be released?
If fees are assessed, a requester must make full payment before the public documents responsive to a request are provided to the requestor.
If a fee is assessed, is a deposit required?
When the fees exceed $50, the County may require a deposit of 1/2 the costs to respond to a request. The deposit must be paid in order for the request to be processed.
How do I make a payment if there are fees required to respond to my request?
Payment options can be found here.