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`October 16, 1997

 

 

Mr. Michael A. Kless
87 Payne Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14220

The staff of the Committee on Open Government is authorized to issue advisory opinions. The
ensuing staff advisory opinion is based solely upon the information presented in your correspondence.

Dear Mr. Kless:

I have received your letters of September 10 and 28, as well as a variety of related materials.
Your correspondence pertains to the fees that may be assessed by the office of the Erie County Clerk.

In this regard, county clerks perform a variety of functions, some of which involve county
records that are subject to the Freedom of Information Law, others of which may be held in the
capacity as clerk of a court. As you may be aware, under the Freedom of Information Law, an
agency may charge up to twenty-five cents per photocopy, "except when a different fee is otherwise
prescribed by statute".

In the case of fees that may be assessed by county clerks, §§8018 through 8021 of the Civil
Practice Law and Rules require that county clerks charge certain fees in their capacities as clerks of
court and other than as clerks of court. Since those fees are assessed pursuant to statutes other than
the Freedom of Information Law, the fees may exceed those permitted under the Freedom of
Information Law. Section 8019 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules provides in part that "The fees
of a county clerk specified in this article shall supersede the fees allowed by any other statute for the
same services...".

Lastly, I note that §8019(f) of the Civil Practice Law and Rules, entitled "Copies of records",
states in relevant part that:

"The following fees, up to a maximum of thirty dollars per record shall
be payable to a county clerk or register for copies of the records of the
office except records filed under the uniform commercial code:

1. to prepare a copy of any paper or record on file in his office, except
as otherwise provided, fifty cents per page with a minimum fee of one
dollar."

I hope that the foregoing serves to clarify your understanding of the matter.

Sincerely,

 

Robert J. Freeman
Executive Director

RJF:jm

cc: David J. Swarts
Kenneth A. Schoetz