Benton ordered to reply to FOIA requests on local airport
The Illinois attorney general has put the responsibility for answering Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for the Benton Municipal Airport squarely on the City of Benton, according to the Edgar County Watchdogs (ECW) website.
The decision came after Benton resident Julie Payne-Hubler filed a request for 2013-15 agendas and minutes from the Benton Municipal Airport Board in February. A board member said no one was appointed to handle the FOIA requests and asked for five more days to get the documents.
Benton Clerk Brook Craig directed Payne-Hubler to go to the airport board, but she did not receive a written response, the ECW said.
In March, Payne-Hubler asked the state attorney general's office to review what she saw as an improper denial of her request by the city. The office determined that Payne-Hubler had not agreed to the five-day extension and that the reason for the request was not a valid one, the ECW said.
Although the city calls the airport a separate entity, the attorney general's office said the city created the airport board by ordinance and that the board members may be removed or appointed by the City Council. These and other reasons led the office to determine that although the airport board is a public entity, the city is responsible for handling FOIA requests related to the airport and its board meetings.
A June 26 order by the attorney general's office directed the City of Benton to respond immediately to Payne-Hubler's request for meeting minutes and agendas related to the airport board of directors.