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FOIA - Freedom of Information Act Requests

BE AWARE OF YOUR FOIA RIGHTS:

Under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) (§2.2-3700 of the Code of Virginia) citizens have the right to inspect or receive copies of public records, or both.  A public record is any writing (paper or electronic file) or recording (audio, video or other format) that is prepared or owned by, or is in the possession of a public body, its officers, employees, or agents in the transaction of public business.  All public records are presumed to be open, and may only be withheld if a specific statutory exemption applies.  Although requests are not required to to made in writing, written requests are easier to track and are less likely to be misunderstood.  For these reasons, staff suggest that FOIA requests for Surry County General Government and the Surry County Board of Supervisors should be submitted in writing by mail, by fax, or by e-mail to the County Administrator’s Office and should list specific information or documents desired, as well as the format for the return of the information (i.e. copies of records, electronic files, etc.).  You are not required to state why you are requesting the records.  Please be aware that there may be a fee charged (see Costs section below) for staff time and copies produced; therefore, citizens may request that charges for these items be estimated in advance.  In the event that staff have questions regarding your request, please cooperate with our efforts to clarify, or to attempt to reach a reasonable agreement when accomodating a large request.  Therefore, it is important that you include your contact information in your request.  

If you believe that your FOIA rights have been violated, you may file a petition in district or circuit court to compel compliance with FOIA.  You may also contact the FOIA Council for a nonbinding advisory opinion.  The FOIA Council may be contacted by telephone at (804) 225-3056 or (toll-free) 1-866-448-4100 or by e-mail at foiacouncil@dls.virginia.gov.

To request records from the Surry County Board of Supervisors or County Government, please contact Mr. Tyrone W. Franklin, County Administrator and Surry County Freedom of Information Officer, Surry County Government, P.O. Box 65, Surry, VA 23883.  You may contact Mr. Franklin by telephone at (757) 294-5271 or by e-mail at twfranklin@surrycountyva.gov. 

 

THE COUNTY'S RESPONSIBILITIES IN RESPONDING TO YOUR REQUEST:

Surry County will respond to your request within five working days of receipt.  "Day One" is considered to be the first day after your request is received, and the five-day period does not include weekends or holidays.  The County does require that you include your name and legal address in your request.  FOIA requires that staff respond to your request within the five-day time period in one of the following ways:

 

  • Providing you with the records that you requested in their entirety.
  • Providing you with a written response in the event that the records you requested are subject to a specific statutory exermption.  The written response must identify the volume and subject matter of the records being withheld as well as the specific section of the Code of Virginia that allows us to withhold the records.
  • Providing you with some of the requested records while withholding other records.  If only a portion of the entire record is subject to an exemption, only that portion will be withheld; the County is required to provide you with the remainder of the record.  You will also receive a written response stating the reason a portion of the record was withheld and the specific section of the Code of Virginia that allows those records to be withheld.
  • Providing you with a written response informing you that the records you requested cannot be found or do not exist.  However, if we know that another public body has the records you are requesting, we are required to provide you with contact information for that public entity. 
  • Providing you with a written response informing you that it is practically impossible for the County to respond to your request within the five-day period and explaining the conditions that make the response impossible.  This allows the County an additional seven working days to respond to your request (a total of 12 working days).  If your request of for a large number of records and staff are unable to provide these records within the 12 working days without disrupting their organizational responsibilities, we may petition the court for additional time to respond to your request.  FOIA does require that staff make a reasonable effort to reach an agreement with you concerning the production of the records before we may petition the court for an extension.

 

COSTS OF REQUESTING FOIA RECORDS:

You may be requested to pay for the records that you request.  FOIA allows the County to charge for the actual costs of responding to your FOIA request including staff time spent searching for the requested records, copying costs, or any other costs directly related to supplying the requested records.  Charges can, and should be, requested in advance pursuant to the Code of Virginia 2.2-3704.  In the event that costs of supplying the records exceed $200, we may require that you make a deposit before proceeding with your request.  (The five days that we have to respond to your request does not include the time between when we ask for a deposit and when you respond.)  Costs are expected to be paid upon receipt of the records.   

 

TYPES OF RECORDS:

The County and its Departments generally maintain Personnel records pertaining to employees and officials of the County, records of Contracts which the County has entered into, Land Development Records and Inspections (building, zoning and environmental), Performance Surety Agreements, Building Plans, Utility Plans, Site Plans and Environmental Plans, and Financial Documents.

 

COMMON EXEMPTIONS:

The Code of Virginia allows a public body to withhold certain records from public disclosure.  Following is a list of commonly used exemptions:  

  • Personnel records (§ 2.2-3705.1 (1) of the Code of Virginia)
  • Records subject to attorney-client privilege (§ 2.2-3705.1 (2)) or attorney work product (§ 2.2-3705.1 (3))
  • Vendor proprietary information (§ 2.2-3705.1 (6))
  • Records relating to the negotiation and award of a contract, prior to a contract being awarded (§ 2.2-3705.1 (12))

 A complete list of exemptions can be found in section 2.2-3705.1 of the Code of Virginia (Exclusions to application of chapter; exclusions of general application to public bodies).  

 

CONTACT INFORMATION:

 

To request records from the Surry County Board of Supervisors or County Government, please contact Mr. Tyrone W. Franklin, County Administrator and Surry County Freedom of Information Act Officer, Surry County Government, P.O. Box 65, Surry, VA 23883.  You may contact Mr. Franklin by telephone at (757) 294-5271 or by e-mail at twfranklin@surrycountyva.gov.

Public Information Officers for the following offices may be contacted directly:

Surry County Circuit Court
Ms. Gail P. Clayton, Clerk
P.O. Box 203
Surry, VA 23883
(757) 294-3161
gclayton@courts.state.va.us

 

Commissioner of the Revenue
Mr. Jonathan Judkins, Chief Deputy Commissioner
P.O. Box 35
Surry, VA 23883
(757) 294-5225
jfjudkins@surrycountyva.gov

 

Commonwealth's Attorney
Mr. Derek A. Davis
P.O. Box 456
Surry, VA 23883
(757) 5428034
ddavis@surrycountyva.gov

 

Surry County Sheriff's Office
Sheriff Carlos Turner
P.O. Box 233
Surry, VA 23883
(757) 294-5264
cturner@surrycountyva.gov
 
 
Surry County Treasurer's Office
Ms. Onike Ruffin, Chief Deputy Treasurer
P.O. Box 286
Surry, VA 23883
(757) 294-5206
onruffin@surrycountyva.gov