The title of the press release raised eyebrows: "Miami-Dade County Demands $22K For Access To Public Information."
The release from Sunshine Review, a Virginia-based nonprofit, accused the county of asking for $22,546.04 -- $1,204.80 for IT support and $21,341.24 for police assistance -- to provide a list of employees with salaries and benefits over $150,000 a year, overtime for retiring personnel and number of cell phones and take-home cars issued by the county.
"At this rate it would be cheaper to fly down to Miami, and personally look up the files while staying at an all-inclusive South Beach hotel," Sunshine Review President Michael Barnhart said in the statement.
But the press release is misleading, the county says.
Suzy Trutie, a Miami-Dade spokeswoman, said Diana Lopez of Sunshine Review requested three years' worth of salaries, benefits, overtime and vehicles for all of the county's 27,000 employees -- as well as cell phone usage for all workers with a county-issued phone, including the log of all the outgoing and incoming calls to each phone.
There was no cost to the benefits and vehicles information, because the county had already compiled it, Trutie said. The salaries and overtime would have cost $720.
The cell phone information, however, would have been more expensive.
The second option: Get cell phone details down including shared activity. To break down that usage, compiling the information would have cost $21,341.24, Trutie said.
When the county informed the nonprofit about the costs, Trutie said, it modified its request to only include the total number of Miami-Dade-issued vehicles and cell phones. It also asked the county for a discount on the costs to fulfill the request.
That took place on June 7, according to the county. Miami-Dade then tried to reach the organization to negotiate a possible discount, but never heard back. "She never responded again," Trutie said of Lopez, who requested the records.
The release came out on Wednesday. And since then, the county has still been unsuccessful in reaching anyone at the organization, Trutie said.