Open Records Requests - Your Questions Answered!
What is an Open Records Request?
The Public Information Act of the Texas Government Code, one of our governing bodies, requires all government information to be made available to the public in a timely manner. This covers everything from meeting minutes to budget proposals and is all housed digitally with the City Clerk’s office.
When Should I Submit One?
An Open Records request is a research request from the City Clerk’s archives, encompassing all publicly filed records within the City. You may need to file a request if you are searching old property records, need evidence for an upcoming court date, or are interested in speaking at an upcoming City Council meeting and want to get all the historical background information on a project.
How do I make a request?
You can submit a request in-person, by mail, fax, or online portal but all requests must be in writing and include your contact information for a response. Open Records Requests are handled by the City Clerk’s office, located at 801 Main, Suite 125. You should generally receive a response in 7-10 business days. You can view the full list of fees for different requests on the City Clerk’s webpage.
What types of records can you request?
You can request records from a variety of departments and topics. Some commonly requested records of interest include:
- City Charter – Have a question about our charter? We will look it up for you and give you a notation of exactly where we found it!
- Certifications – Any certifications of employees can be requested through the City Clerk’s office. Just give the person’s name and qualifying information, and we will handle the rest.
- Financial Records – Any information related to budgets, the Capital Program budget, or any other financial documents made publicly available by the city.
- Election Records – Information on past elections for council members and the mayor.
- City Contracts – Any contract between the city and an outside vendor is considered public record.
- Construction Records – All documentation for past construction projects, including inspection reports, inspector notes, red tags, pulled permit records, and correspondence with the city.
You can also request city resolutions, ordinances, city minutes from any meeting (including Historical Landmark Commission and the Homeless Coalition Meetings), city council agendas, and any information of Historical Value to the city, such as Sanborn fire maps and historical city council meeting minutes. Not sure whether the information you want is available? Submit a request and the City Clerk’s office will let you know.
Things You Can’t Request:
Divorce Decrees, Probate, Criminal Background, Marriage, Assumed Name Information, Property Tax Information, and Real & Business Personal Property Ownership/Appraisal Information, which are all Jefferson County business.
Tips for Getting the Records You Need:
- The City of Beaumont is not required to answer questions, perform legal research, or comply with a request to supply information on a periodic basis for information that will be prepared in the future. So, make sure the records you are requesting are strictly for things that have already happened and have been documented.
- Be as specific in your request as possible and include a timeframe when appropriate. For example, you are much more likely to get the information you need if you submit a request stating, “I am looking for the city council meeting minutes from the Special Meeting about business property insurance on April 28, 2022,” rather than submitting a more generic inquiry like, “I want the minutes from the meeting where they talked about a contract for property insurance,” which could mean any number of things.