FEE REDUCED IN FOIA CASE
County Administrator Ronnie Roark is declaring victory after a FOIA hearing last week in Nottoway General District Court -- even though the Judge reduced the price he charged for a Freedom Of Information Act request.
Kathie Kingery of Crewe filed the complaint after Roark charged her $78.11 for a copy of a 14-page proposal that she requested under FOIA.
Ms. Kingery’s complaint was based on Roark charging fellow Crewe resident Sue Yeatts $27 for the same proposal -- a Compensation Study prepared by Robinson, Farmer, Cox Associates.
In General District Court last Wednesday (Oct. 14th), Judge Thomas Stark IV reduced the charge to $50. Mrs. Kingery will be getting a refund for $28.11.
At Administrator Roark’s invitation, County Attorney Preston Williams, who represented Roark, announced the court’s findings during Thursday night’s Board of Supervisors meeting. “Judge Stark heard from the citizen and Nottoway County,” Williams told Supervisors and others present. “The legal term he used in his ruling was ‘equitable to both parties.’ It was an equitable ruling for both sides.”
County Administrator Roark didn’t shy from ‘leading the witness,’ asking Attorney Williams to tell Supervisors more.
“Did the judge not say that the County didn’t do anything wrong?” Roark asked Williams.
“Correct,” Williams re-sponded. “He did say -- in his closing remarks -- that he believed the County didn’t do anything wrong.”
In court on Wednesday, Roark testified that he had to spend an additional 45 minutes on Mrs. Kingery’s request because she also had asked how much the County paid to Robinson, Farmer, Cox Associates over a period of several years.
Roark testified that he had to call the firm because when he responded to the request, Finance Director Katy Tomer was on vacation.
Mrs. Kingery this week issued this statement in response to the Judge’s ruling and the Attorney’s presentation the next evening:
“I represented myself while the Administrator was represented by our tax-paid attorney, Preston Williams. Mr. Williams agreed to Administrator Roark’s goading at the meeting that the judge said the Administrator ‘did nothing wrong.’
“Paraphrasing Judge Stark, his comment was that he wasn’t going to say the Administrator did something wrong while lowering my invoice, which he based on the Administrator’s testimony that the only difference in the two invoices for FOIA requests made by both Sue Yeatts and me for the Robinson Farmer Cox Salary Compensation Study proposal was a summary showing payments made to Robinson, Farmer, Cox by Nottoway County.
“Administrator Roark testified that my invoice of July 30 was higher because he charged me for acquiring the payment summary directly from RFC when, in fact, what I received was a summary print-out directly from the Nottoway accounting system dated August 3 -- days after his invoice of July 30. Attorney Williams got the last word at the public meeting last week - the matter is now between Administrator Roark and God.”