Dorchester County officials refused to waive fees for the release of data about how much of an opioid antidote emergency personnel administered over the last five years.
Berkeley and Charleston counties released the same public information at no cost.
A Freedom of Information Act request was sent to Dorchester County on June 9 for the number of times, dates and locations that the medication Narcan, known generically as Naloxone, was administered to a suspected drug overdose patient from June 9, 2010, to June 9, 2015.
County Attorney John Frampton replied to the request July 2 and said the anticipated research for the request would take four to six hours. He said in a subsequent email that the county would charge the EMS director’s hourly rate of $54.96 and that they would need $219.84 to proceed.
Agencies can charge a “reasonable hourly rate” for making records available, but they may not charge for examination and review to determine if documents are subject to disclosure, according to the law.
Frampton did not return multiple requests for comment about what the research the county was billing for would entail.
Jay Bender, an attorney for the S.C. Press Association and The Post and Courier, said Frampton’s refusal to respond was consistent with the notion that the county did not want to work with the newspaper to release the information.
“It suggests to me either that there is no answer, or that the answer is against the law and they don’t want to acknowledge that, or it’s a question beyond their ability to answer,” he said.
He added that often when reporters ask questions, governments take a proprietary stance and impede the flow of information when it’s less than flattering.
“It’s interesting to me that there are so many people in government who don’t understand that their job is to serve the public,” Bender said.
Reach Melissa Boughton at 937-5594 or at Twitter.com/mboughtonPC.