Pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 50-18-71(c), Augusta may impose a reasonable charge for the search, retrieval, redaction, and copying of records. Such costs cannot exceed the prorated hourly salary of the lowest paid full-time employee who has the necessary skill and training to perform the request, provided that no charges shall be made for the first quarter hour. In addition, Augusta may charge a fee for the copying of records or data, not to exceed $0.10 per page for letter or legal-size documents, or in the case of other documents, the actual cost of producing the copy.
If a request cost estimate exceeds $25.00 for search, retrieval, redaction, or copying, Augusta must provide the requestor with a detailed description of the estimated costs, including: (1) the total estimated charge; (2) the estimated number of hours required to search, retrieve, redact, or copy the records; (3) the hourly rate to be charged; (4) in the case of paper records, the estimated number of pages to be copied and the charge per page for copying; and (6) in the case of electronic records, the actual cost of the media on which the records are produced, within three business days of receiving the request. Augusta may defer search and retrieval of the records until the requestor agrees to pay the estimated costs unless the requestor has stated in the request a willingness to pay an amount that equals or exceeds the search and retrieval costs.
Any request cost estimate that exceeds $500.00 must be reviewed and approved by the Open Records Officer. Augusta may insist on prepayment of the costs prior to beginning search, retrieval, review, or production of the records.
An invoice describing the actual cost incurred in producing responsive records, which may be higher or lower than the cost estimates provided in accordance with the paragraphs above, must be provided at the time of delivery of records.
Whenever any person who has requested to inspect or copy public records has not paid the cost for search, retrieval, redaction, or copying of such records when such charges have been lawfully incurred, Augusta may require prepayment for compliance with all future requests for production of records from that person until the costs for the prior production of records have been paid or any dispute regarding payment is resolved.