Board of Commissioners

Freedom of Information Act Requests

Kent County FOIA Portal

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The Michigan Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) intends that all persons shall be informed about government affairs and official acts so that they may fully participate in the democratic process.

Kent County and its departments will make information and records described as ‘public records’ available to all persons entitled to full and complete information to the greatest extent possible. Kent County may withhold public records as permitted by certain exemptions and exclusions in the FOIA statute.

County FOIA Coordinators can assist you in identifying the public records that may contain the information you are seeking. 

FOIA Request

You can submit a request verbally or in writing for public record(s) to any of the County departments that may possess that record. Your request must sufficiently describe the requested public record with relevant details such as names, dates, and department retaining the records, so that the FOIA Coordinator can find the requested record within a reasonable amount of time and with a reasonable amount of effort.

Submitting a Request

Requests for records may be submitted by mail, fax, hand delivery, or online. You may choose to use the Kent County’s FOIA records request form and fill in the details of your request and send it directly to the department retaining the record, or submit it online. A written request submitted electronically is not deemed received by a public body’s FOIA coordinator until 1 business day after the electronic transmission is made.

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Policies, Guidelines & Procedures

Response Time

Your public records request will be processed within 5 business days or a 10 business days extension may be requested. You may further extend the time for a response in writing.

Frequently Requested Records

Many of the frequently requested records from Kent County are available online:

  • 17th Circuit Court Hearing Schedule - Hearing schedules are provided for domestic relations, civil, criminal and family cases.
  • 17th Circuit Court Name Search - Court records can be searched; criminal cases go back to 1996 and civil cases date to 1987. Date of Birth is required for criminal cases.
  • Accident Reports - Retrieve accident reports by providing the following: date of accident and report number.
  • Death Records - Death certificates issued by Kent County can be ordered online.
  • Deeds Search & Document Retrieval - Search and download documents on file with the Kent County Register of Deeds.
  • Divorce Decrees - Order certified copies of judgments of divorce.
  • Marriage Records - Marriage records issued by Kent County can be ordered online.
  • Meetings, Minutes & Agendas - View Board of Commissioners, standing committees, and subcomittees meetings, minutes and agendas.
  • Property / Parcel Lookup - View and pay delinquent taxes, sales history and tax description of a property in Kent County. Information is updated at the end of each annual assessment cycle.
  • Probate Hearing Schedule - View cases scheduled within the next 6 weeks if searched by name – all past, present & future scheduled events if searching by case number.
  • Probate Letters & Orders - Order certified orders of name changes and letters related to current Probate Court cases.
  • Probate Name Search - Search Probate Court records and order copies of documents.

Inspection of Records

At your written request, Kent County will allow you a reasonable opportunity to inspect non-exempt public records during normal business hours.  A fee may be charged if it is necessary to assemble the public records, supervise the inspection of the records, or to make a copy of a public record.

Potential Exemptions

The FOIA statute contains several permitted exemptions. The FOIA is intended to be a pro-disclosure statute; therefore exemptions are narrowly interpreted to permit disclosure, where possible. If a requested document contains material that is exempt and other material that is nonexempt, the County may disclose the nonexempt material and delete the exempt material. Please review the FOIA statute to determine if the public records you are seeking are exempt from disclosure.

Fees

Kent County may require you to reimburse the expenses associated with processing of your request for public records. In case the fee exceeds $50, a deposit not exceeding ½ of the total fee may be required, and the County may refuse to process the request until the deposit is paid. Labor, photocopying, postage, and shipping costs will be charged at actuals and in accordance with FOIA.

Kent County may provide public records without a charge or at a reduced charge if it is determined disclosure of the public record would primarily benefit the general public and that it is in the public interest to provide it without charge or at a reduced charge.

The first $20.00 of the total fee for requested records shall be waived if the requesting person submits an Affidavit of Indigence. MCL 15.234 provides for a waiver of the first $20.00 of the fee if the requester submits an affidavit stating he or she is indigent and receiving public assistance, or if not receiving public assistance, stating facts showing an inability to pay the cost due to indigence. A requester is not eligible for this waiver if (1) the individual has previously received discounted copies of public records from Kent County twice during the same calendar year or (2) the individual requests the information in conjunction with outside parties who are offering or providing payment or other remuneration to the individual to make the request.

Appeal for Denial of a Record

If your public records request is denied, you have the right of appeal that decision. You will receive a full description of your appeal rights along with a denial.

Appeal for an Excess FOIA Processing Fee

If the fee charged by the County to process your records request exceeds the amount permitted by FOIA, you may file an appeal. You will receive a full description of your appeal rights.