Sedgwick County's appraiser's office violated the Kansas Open Records Act when it stalled a request by a Wichita private investigator, the district attorney recently found.
Emery Goad, president of Kansas Investigative Services, said Friday that he was pleased by the finding.
"They just flat refused them," he said of the records he requested from the appraiser's office in November.
In a June 2 letter, Deputy District Attorney Ann Swegle told Goad that her office had investigated and "we agree with you that certain acts by that office violated" the open records law.
The county will have to pay court costs of $175.50.
The District Attorney's Office said it found that the Appraiser's Office did not respond to Goad's request, which asked for records about a shopping center, within the three days required under state law.
The Appraiser's Office, court documents say, "did not respond to (Kansas Investigative Services) in any fashion related to the records request" until Dec. 31, when the office sent an e-mail indicating that the cost to produce the records would be $45.
On Jan. 5, court documents say, the Appraiser's Office sent Goad a fax that certain records would be "redacted or excluded" as allowed by law and that the records could be picked up after 3 p.m. for free.
Goad's office picked up the records that day.
Swegle said the Appraiser's Office violated the law by failing to produce the records within three days of the request or providing an explanation for the delay.
"No intent of the appraiser's office to deny records under KORA was found," the journal entry of judgment says.
County Manager William Buchanan recently sent an e-mail to all employees emphasizing the importance of following KORA guidelines.
"We have been very diligent in assuring the public has access to information," he said, adding that the county's philosophy "continues to be 'it is the public's information, not ours.' We understand that for democracy to work, we must be as open and transparent as possible."
He also said the county has a "deliberate system, and we have designated KORA coordinators in each department. I am sorry this occurred. We will continue to strive to be diligent in our efforts to not have this occur again."