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Reinel v. Butler County Auditor

Court of Claims of Ohio

June 25, 2018

STEVEN J. REINEL Requester
v.
BUTLER COUNTY AUDITOR, ET AL. Respondent

          Sent to S.C. Reporter 7/24/18

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          SPECIAL MASTER JEFFERY W. CLARK JUDGE

          {¶1} On March 14, 2018, requester Steven J. Reinel filed a complaint pursuant to R.C. 2743.75 alleging denial of access to public records by respondent Butler County Auditor in violation of division R.C. 149.43(B). Following unsuccessful mediation respondent filed an answer and motion to dismiss (Response) on May 17, 2018. On May 18, 2018, the special master issued an order directing Reinel to file a reply stating each request that he alleged remained unsatisfied, and identifying in as much detail as possible what specific, existing records had been withheld. The court accepted Reinel's June 8, 2018 memorandum (Reply) submitted in response to the order.

         {¶2} Ohio's Public Records Act, R.C. 149.43, provides a remedy for production of records under R.C. 2743.75 if the court of claims determines that a public office has denied access to public records in violation of R.C. 149.43(B). "[O]ne of the salutary purposes of the Public Records Law is to ensure accountability of government to those being governed." State ex rel. Strothers v. Wertheim, 80 Ohio St.3d 155, 158, 684 N.E.2d 1239 (1997). Therefore, the Act "is construed liberally in favor of broad access, and any doubt is resolved in favor of disclosure of public records." State ex rel. Cincinnati Enquirer v. Hamilton Cty., 75 Ohio St.3d 374, 376, 662 N.E.2d 334 (1996). Claims under R.C. 2743.75 are determined using the standard of clear and convincing evidence. Hurt v. Liberty Twp., 5th Dist. Delaware No. 17CAI050031, 2017-Ohio-7820, ¶ 27-30.

          {¶3} In response to the court order of May 18, 2018, Reinel submitted a reply stating that the remaining disputes are:

I would like the following answered by Butler County, since I believe there should be Public Records regarding this.
1)Just to be clear.
** *
I want to know how you calculated the increase of $21, 620 from 2013 to 2014. And I want to know how you calculated the decrease of $4860 in January, 2018, for the years 2014, 2015, and 2016.
** *
2)You stated in your email sent to me on 01/30/2018 @11:23 am. "Based on your recommendation, we will consider increasing your neighbors [sic] psf to $2.72 during the next revaluation."
Please show me where I recommended that you increase my neighbor's property taxes to $2.72 psf. during the next revaluation.

(Reply at 1.) Reinel made these requests on January 30, 2018 (Complaint at 5) and January 31, 2018 (Id. at 3), respectively.

         Requests for Information and ...


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