Update: The City of Portland provided new figures that show in fiscal year 2018, the city collected more than $800,000 from public records requests.
Want to know what Portland government is up to? Get out your wallet.
Portland City Hall is charging more than ever before for public records, and is on track to rake in more than a million dollars in fees this year.
Public records are one of the best ways for taxpayers to learn what public agencies are doing. Yet government agencies frequently charge the public to produce documents—even routine records like police reports—to "recover the actual costs" of handing over the public information.
In fact, the city doesn't know the full amount of money it collects from people seeking records. When WW asked for the totals—via a public records request, of course—city officials said they don't track some cash payments made in person.
But the city does count every check and credit card transaction. Those figures show that charges for records are increasing much faster than the number of transactions.
Number of records request transactions:
2018 (year-to-date): 2,645
Charges for records requests:
FY 2016: $202,942.35
FY 2017: $525,490.60
FY 2018 (through May): $582,761.34