City Government


Administration - Public Information Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the Public Information Act?

The Public Information Act (Act), previously known as the Open Records Act, is located at Chapter 552 of the Texas Government Code. The Act provides a means for citizens to inspect or copy government records.

How do I make a request for public information?

The request must be in writing and must be addressed to the City of Brenham. The Public Information Act specifies that written requests activate a governmental body's obligation under the law. Send/Deliver all public information requests to any of the following:

Email Fax Mail Deliver
rruffino@cityofbrenham.org 979-337-7568 City of Brenham
Office of the City Secretary
P.O. Box 1059
Brenham, TX 77834-1059
City of Brenham (City Hall)
Office of the City Secretary
200 W. Vulcan St., Ste. 202
Brenham, TX 77833

 

What should I write in my public information request?

You do not need to reference the Public Information Act, but please make the request as clear and specific
as possible. This will allow the City of Brenham to identify precisely what information you are requesting.

How long does the City have to respond to my request for information?

The Act provides that the City of Brenham must respond "promptly" to a request for information. If the City is unable to produce the requested information within ten (10) business days (after receiving the request), the officer for public information must send you correspondence certifying they were unable to do so and they must set a date and time when the records will be available to you.

Will I have to pay for copies of my requested information?

The Act generally provides for allowable charges for copies of and access to public information. All charges must be calculated in accordance with the rules promulgated by the Texas Attorney General. If the response is larger than 400 pages, the City of Brenham will send the requestor an estimate of charges. The charges must be paid before the City can process the request. These larger requests usually also incur charges for personnel to compile, copy and redact the records (at $15.00 per hour).

How is public information provided to me?

If the documentation you seek is available electronically, and you would prefer it in that form, the City can usually send it via email (or on a CD if the file is too large to email). If you wish to receive paper copies, the City can send them to you via fax or standard US Mail.

What if I just want to look at the documents?

Clearly state in your request that you do not wish to receive copies but wish to view the information. When your request is received, the officer for public information will contact you to set an appointment for you to come to our office and view the documents. Any information that is confidential by law will be redacted.

What happens if I request confidential information?

Some information contained in our records is made confidential by the Texas Public Information Act or other laws and statutes. If the responsive records contain confidential information, the City of Brenham must either redact certain confidential information or request a ruling from the Texas Attorney General as to whether the confidential information can be released.

What information will the City redact/withhold from my request?

Information that will be redacted/withheld:

  • Direct Deposit Authorization Forms
  • I-9 Forms and Attachments
  • W-2 and W-4 Forms
  • L-2 and L-3 Declarations (Law Enforcement Records)
  • Military Discharge Records
  • Fingerprints
  • Certified Agendas and Tapes of Closed Meetings
  • Email Addresses of Members of the Public
  • Social Security Numbers
  • Motor Vehicle Records (Driver's License or ID Numbers and License Plate or VIN Numbers)
  • Account and Access Device Numbers (Credit Card Numbers, Bank Account and Routing Numbers, etc.)
  • Family Violence, Victims of Trafficking, or Sexual Assault Shelter/Program Information

Information that will be redacted/withheld if the employee has chosen to make the information confidential:

  • Public Employee's Personal Information:
    • Home address
    • Home telephone number
    • Emergency contact information
    • Family member information

Why are Dates of Birth redacted but not on the listing of information that must be redacted?

Dates of Birth have been judicially determined to be confidential by law but the City of Brenham MUST have the requestor approve the redaction. In order to expedite your request, Dates of Birth, if any, will be automatically redacted. If you accept the documents, the City will consider that approval of the redaction and the request is closed. If you do not accept the redaction, see the instructions below on how to appeal the withholding of information to the Attorney General.

What if I request a police report and the case is still open/active?

The City of Brenham was granted a Previous Determination 108 Exception by the Texas Attorney General which allows them to release the basic information about an arrested person, an arrest, or a crime contained within an open/active police report without the necessity of requesting a ruling.

What if I am the subject of the records I am requesting?

A person or a person's authorized representative has a special right of access to information that relates to the person and that is protected from public disclosure by laws intended to protect that person's privacy interests. However, the individual's right of access to private information about that individual does not override exceptions to disclosure in the Public Information Act or confidentiality laws protecting some interest other than that individual's privacy.

What happens if an Attorney General Ruling is requested?

If the City of Brenham requests an Attorney General ruling to withhold information, the City will notify you in writing within ten (10) business days (after receiving the request). All documents requested are sent to the Attorney General for review. The Attorney General has 45 days to rule on the matter and will notify both the City and the requestor of their decision.

How do I appeal the City's decision to redact/withhold information?

If you wish to appeal the redaction/withholding of information, you must send the following to the Attorney General:

  1. A signed, written statement indicating you wish to appeal the withholding of information;
  2. The name of the governmental body that withheld information from you;
  3. The date you made your original request for information; and
  4. A copy of your original request for information, or if you are unable to provide a copy, a description
    of your original request for information.

You may also submit written comments stating why you think the information should be released to you, but
you are not required to do so.

Send your appeal by mail to the Attorney General at:

Open Records Division
P.O. Box 12548
Austin, Texas 78711-2548