Settlement Agreement Open Records

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K.S.A. 1992 Supp. 45-221 contains a long list of records that may be closed at the discretion of the public body. In addition, registrations may be closed by federal law, state law or Kansas Supreme Court rule. K.S.A. 1992 Supp. 45-221 (a) (1). We note that our discussion is about the general principles of the settlement agreement under the KOMA and KORA. Some provisions of specific comparative agreements could eventually be concluded on the basis of federal or regional laws, Supreme Court rules or other exceptions. All these considerations become largely academic when the paying party is a commune, thanks to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

This “sun” law adopted in 1976 guarantees the transparency and openness of the state by requiring municipalities to submit public registers for the publication of information. And the Michigan courts have ruled that this includes transaction agreements. Confidentiality clauses contained in communal settlement agreements may offer a certain level of protection, particularly in cases of limited public interest, but disclosure cannot be excluded if transaction agreements are requested under FOIA. This restriction should be understood and taken into account by the municipalities when deciding whether or not to settle a particular case. K.S.A. 45-216 , “as the public order of this state, it declares that public records are accessible to any person, unless otherwise required by this law, and this act must be interpreted and applied in a liberal manner to promote this policy.” The publication of public records is mandatory as a public order of the state, unless otherwise stated by KORA. K.S.A. 1992 Supp. 45-217 (f) defines public records as “any recorded information, regardless of the form or characteristics created, maintained or retained by a public body or held by a public body.” The city of Mulvane is a public agency within the meaning of K.S.A.

1992 Supp. 45-217 (e). The City may enter into a contract with another agency or person to resolve disputes between them. The protocol in question, a transaction contract, is a “public protocol” submitted to KORA. It is therefore considered that the provisions of the transaction agreement are available to the public upon request, unless an exception is exempted in the deed.