Mohave County burdened by unpaid public records requests

The board voted unanimously to direct County Manager Mike Hendrix and his staff to look into the costs and resources spent in response to Freedom of Information Act requests for public records. He’ll come back with a report at the Aug. 20 board meeting. (Adobe Images)

The board voted unanimously to direct County Manager Mike Hendrix and his staff to look into the costs and resources spent in response to Freedom of Information Act requests for public records. He’ll come back with a report at the Aug. 20 board meeting. (Adobe Images)

KINGMAN – Other than criticism during public comment, it was a fairly mundane meeting of the Mohave County Board of Supervisors Monday without any significant action on regular agenda items.

The board voted unanimously to direct County Manager Mike Hendrix and his staff to look into the costs and resources spent in response to Freedom of Information Act requests for public records. He’ll come back with a report at the Aug. 20 board meeting.

“We’ve heard people claim we’re not quick enough on getting FOIA back,” said Supervisor Buster Johnson, who placed the item on the regular agenda.

Golden Valley citizen Steve Robinson had asked for all annual reports on the Golden Valley Improvement District, but said he “wasn’t about to pay for 1,200 pages” when it could have been sent electronically.

Board Chairman Gary Watson said he had a box of papers in his office and asked Robinson to take action and honor his records request.

Supervisor Hildy Angius wants to find out the number of FOIA requests received over the last five years.

“I don’t think the public realizes how many we get and they’re big,” Angius said. “A lot of times our county takes the time and then people don’t want to pay it. We have been threatened and asked to give these things for free when the irony is these same people are saying we don’t take care of our money, we’re not fiscally responsible. We’ve honored our side and we expect the public to honor theirs.”

Hendrix said part of his job is to provide public records, but some of the requests he’s received entail the creation of new documents, which are not part of the FOIA.

He also suggested that the county post on its website who’s requesting the public records and how much time it takes.

Treasurer fees

In other board action, supervisors voted 4-1 (Johnson opposed) to adopt a new fee schedule for Mohave County Treasurer’s Office, including new fees for registered mail and changes in amounts currently charged, with a public hearing on notary fees set for the second meeting in August.

Angius questioned the fee increase for notary service from $2 to $10, which she felt was a “bit excessive.”

“When you come here and find out you need things notarized, it’s kind of a convenience and a service for us to do that, and you’re kind of stuck,” she said.

“I mean, you could leave and find a notary, but no one’s going to do that for a couple bucks, but what’s going to happen is they’re going to leave here a little resentful.”

Luke Mourmian, senior management analyst for the Treasurer, said fees haven’t been raised in five years. Most of the notary fees are typically for tax lien foreclosures, which involves people trying to “enrich” themselves, he said.

Mohave County Assessor Jeanne Kentch said $2 is a normal fee for a notary, but it can run up to $25 with additional service fees.

Mourmian said the county provides a notary because it’s required for tax lien foreclosures, but not for other services.

Private gate

The board disagreed about authorizing a private access gate license between the county and the Colorado River Front Property Owners Association, voting 3-2 to approve the gate.

Watson and Johnson voted against allowing the association to install and operate a private access gate on Courtwright Road between Evans Lane and Dike Road, expressing concern about public access to the river.

The association previously paid a $600 abandonment application fee that will be applied to the 10-year license fee, which is subject to renewal.

“The county owns land down there and this will block off access,” Johnson said during a short discussion. It’s been brought to the board several times in the past and he has opposed it every time.

Steve Latoski, director of Public Works, said the county owns a right of way from the Colorado River east until it intersects Dike Road, which is a private road not maintained by the county. The purpose of the gate is to limit the general public from access in that area of private homes, Latoski added.

Water connections

The board voted 5-0 to set a public hearing for Aug. 20 to consider an amendment to establish modified guidelines and procedures on billing practices and customer service connections for the Golden Valley Improvement District.

Latoski said water service connections provide 200 gallons a day for residential use, but some customers with multiple allocations are asking for more connections for higher levels of water consumption.

Also, several real estate companies hold properties in GVID, and the county requires a $90 deposit for each individual account. Latoski has identified a mechanism to allow for an irrevocable line of credit, or for companies to post a utility bond or certificate of deposit for each parcel so they’re not burdened by a $90 deposit for every account.