From The Columbus Dispatch
County auditors cannot charge a fee to inspect public records posted online, according to the office of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.
DeWine issued an advisory opinion on the topic this week afterThe Dispatch reported last year that Monroe County Auditor Pandora Neuhart charged $15 a month to inspect real estate records on her office’s website.
Ohio public records law permits governmental offices to charge a fee for providing copies of records, but no fees can be charged for inspecting public records, DeWine’s opinion said.
Posting public records online is the equivalent of making them available for inspection, the opinion says.
DeWine’s office rejected the idea that saving an electronic copy of an online document on a computer and then printing it does not constitute providing a copy for which a fee can be charged.
DeWine issued the advisory opinion in response to a request from Ohio Auditor Dave Yost and Monroe County Prosecutor James Peters. Comment was being sought from Nehuart.