January 16, 2014
The staff of the Committee on Open Government is authorized to issue advisory opinions. The ensuing staff advisory opinion is based solely upon the facts presented in your correspondence.
This is in response to yours of January 10, 2014, copy enclosed. As you relayed, you were recently contacted by the Babylon Town Clerk, who offered you a copy of the requested certificate of occupancy (2 pages) for a fee of $.50, not the $25.00 that you were initially required to submit.
It has come to our attention that we addressed this exact issue in 2011 through the issuance of the enclosed advisory opinion. This will confirm that there is no basis in law for the Town to charge more than $.50 for a copy of the requested two page document.
Fees for “uncertified” ($25.00) and certified copies ($50.00) of records requested from the Town, required via the Town of Babylon “Request for Research” Form are also without basis in law. We note further, that through this form the Town attempts to prohibit those who are not property owners to obtain access to “uncertified” copies of property records such as certificates of occupancy, building permits, etc. There is no law that would support this prohibition.
Should you learn that the Town continues to attempt to recoup fees that are not authorized by law, and continues to attempt to prevent applicants from obtaining copies of records upon payment of the appropriate $.25 per page fee, I recommend that you raise the issue at a Town Board meeting at which the press is present, and share these materials.
Camille S. Jobin-Davis, Esq.
c:Carol Quirk, Town Clerk
Ann Marie Jones, Commissioner
Planning and Development
Babylon Town Hall
200 East Sunrise Highway
Lindenhurst, NY 11757