Former Idaho State U. employee, alumni charged $1,235 for public records about university president’s home renovations

IDAHO — A family was charged $1,235 when they requested information about the upkeep and renovation costs of the Idaho State University president’s house. But after a three-week online fundraising campaign, the family raised enough money to cover the bill.

Eric D’Amico, an ISU alumnus, Rhonda D’Amico, a former ISU employee and alumna, and their son Sam D’Amico, a current ISU student, surpassed their fundraising goal on Tuesday and received $1,335, with much of the money coming from ISU alumni and staff.

The D’Amicos had requested a detailed breakdown on the $31,000 annual maintenance costs and the estimated $750,000 for improvements the university told the State Board of Education it would need in order the keep the Servel House as a residence for the university’s president, according to the Idaho State Journal.

In Idaho, the state’s public records law allows agencies to charge requestors a fee to cover the labor and copying costs needed to fulfill a request. The law allows agencies to charge the per-hour pay rate of their lowest-paid administrative staff employee to process requests.

Under a 2011 amendment to the state’s open records law, according to the Idaho Press Club, public agencies must provide for free the first two hours of labor and the first 100 pages of a records request. It also made clear public agencies are not required to charge a fee for records and may waive any of the costs associated with processing a request.

However, public agencies are not required to create new records to fulfill a request. The requested documents dated back 10 years, the State Journal reported, and university officials would have to compile new records about the house.

According to the Gofundme page, the university told the D’Amicos they would begin to locate the records once the family paid the bill. The family said they understood why they were being charged but thought the records would have been readily available because they should have been included in a proposal to the Board of Education to buy the president a new house.

The proposal was later withdrawn.

“We believe we are, in effect, being asked to fund that research and review,” the family wrote on their fundraising page.