Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

FOIA Requests

Requester’s Rights

  • You have the right to request to inspect or to receive copies of public records, or both.
  • You have the right to request that any charges for the requested records be estimated in advance.  As of July 1, 2022, public bodies must notify requesters in writing that the public body may make reasonable charges not to exceed its actual cost incurred in accessing, duplicating, supplying, or searching for requested records and inquire of the requester whether he would like to request a cost estimate in advance of the supplying of the requested records.
  • If you believe that your FOIA rights have been violated, you may file a petition in district or circuit court to compel compliance with FOIA.

Making a Request for Records

  • You may request records by U.S. Mail, fax, email, online, in person, or over the phone – FOIA does not require that you use any particular method to convey your request. FOIA also does not require that your request be in writing, nor do you need to state that you are requesting records under FOIA. Should you wish to put your order in writing, a copy of the Town’s FOIA Request Form can be found here.
    • From a practical perspective, it may be helpful to both you and the person receiving your request to put your request in writing. This allows you to create a record of your request. It also gives us a clear statement of what records you are requesting, so that there is no misunderstanding over a verbal request. However, we cannot refuse to respond to your FOIA request if you elect to not put it in writing.
  • Your request must identify the records you are seeking with “reasonable specificity.” This is a common-sense standard. It does not refer to or limit the volume or number of records that you are requesting; instead, it requires that you be specific enough so that we can identify and locate the records that you are seeking.
  • Your request must ask for existing records or documents. FOIA gives you a right to inspect or copy records; it does not apply to a situation where you are asking general questions about the work of the Town of Onancock, nor does it require the town to create a record that does not exist.
  • You may choose to receive electronic records in any format used by the Town in the regular course of business.
    • For example, if you are requesting records maintained in an Excel database, you may elect to receive those records electronically, via email, on a computer disk or flash drive, or to receive a printed copy of those records.
  • If we have questions about your request, please cooperate with staff’s efforts to clarify the type of records that you are seeking, or to attempt to reach a reasonable agreement about a response to a large request. Making a FOIA request is not an adversarial process, but we may need to discuss your request with you to ensure that we understand what records you are seeking.

FOIA Request Form
To request records or inquire about the process, you may direct your request to the following designated FOIA Officer. 

Designated FOIA Officer

Town of Onancock

Matt Spuck, Town Manager

By mail or in person:
Onancock Town Hall
15 North Street
Onancock, Virginia 223417

Follow this link to see Virginia Law Chapter 37: Virginia Freedom of Information Act