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What is the Purpose of the Colorado Open Records Act?

In accordance with our statutory responsibility, Mesa County is committed to ensuring public access to the County’s public records within a reasonable time and at a reasonable cost. Certain County offices are bound by Colorado Revised Statutes as to the time to provide and the cost of those public records. Elected and public offices have a duty to the citizens to conduct government in accordance with Colorado law, and if there are legitimate questions of openness as to meeting and accessibility of records, those questions should be addressed on a case-by-case basis by the County Attorney.

Colorado Open Records Act Definition

Colorado Open Records Act begins at Section 24-72-201 of the Colorado Revised Statutes.

Colorado Revised Statutes for Open Records Act can found in most libraries or online at the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) page on the Colorado Secretary of State website. 

The thought behind this part of open government in Colorado is a very simple, yet very broad and powerful idea:

  • All public records are open for inspection by any person at reasonable times.
  • The only public records that fall outside this expansive policy are records identified in specific exceptions set forth in the Colorado Open Records Act, other laws of the state, or federal law.

This controversy often flows from a difficult balance to be struck between fundamental principles of open government described above and the important privacy rights of the individuals who are the subject of the records sought. For example:

  • Some of the aspects of the hiring and firing of individuals by government are open to the public, even though this information may be embarrassing or uncomfortable for the people involved.
  • Some of the information held by the government in applications for licenses and similar approvals may be open to the public for eventual use for commercial purposes, even though the citizen applicants might prefer that the application information not be shared with commercial interests.

This important balance must be found by interpreting the specific text of the laws involved in the light of the particular circumstances of the request for information. The legal outcome of this process - whether a particular sensitive record is to be released publicly - at times can be very difficult to determine.

The Colorado Open Records Act contains several specific exceptions.

Though access to government records is the general rule in Colorado, people and companies also want to know that the private information they must give the government will be respected as private, not made public.

For that reason, laws authorize, and sometimes require, that the government keep some types of records confidential. These laws protect the privacy of records such as:

  • Personnel files
  • Law enforcement investigations
  • Research projects conducted by state institutions
  • Real estate appraisals when property is being acquired for public use
  • Certain tax records.

Some state laws outside the Open Records Act protect specific records, such as:

  • Certain medical records held by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment are specifically kept from disclosure under separate laws.
  • Certain records maintained by the Department of Human Services are exempt from disclosure.
  • Investigative records maintained by regulatory agencies and business and professional licensing boards may be exempt.

Careful legal research is required to identify this type of exception to the Open Records Act.

A specific federal law sometimes governs whether a particular public record is confidential, notwithstanding state laws such as the Colorado Open Records Act. The effect of federal law must be evaluated in the context of a particular request for public records.

Mesa County Policy for Open Records Request

Our policy is intended to give guidance to the public, Mesa County offices, and departments which do not have their own department CORA policy. It supports the appropriate handling and response to request for public records.

The county strives to be open and responsive to the public's request for public records.

The Colorado Open Records Act governs how governmental entities respond to requests for records and said statute shall be consulted for any questions regarding compliance.

Records Request Procedure

Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) Requests to Obtain or View Public Records

Requests are accepted by Mesa County through: 

  • The central CORA email portal
  • The custodian of the records
    • Via fax
    • Via hard copy personally delivered or mailed.

No particular format for requesting records is necessary except that the request must be in writing.

Users of Mesa County's CORA email portal will be invited to use a pre-formatted Form to request their records.

Board of County Commissioners

Public Hearing Historical Records

Search Public Hearing System


Clerk and Recorder's Office

Search Recorded Documents 


Community Development

Mesa County Customer Portal


Assessor Parcel Records

Assessor Lookup 


Public Health Information


Sheriff's Office Information

Open Records Request


General Mesa County Information

Requesting Information from Mesa County (not already mentioned)

Public Records Request Form 


Judicial / Court Records

Court records are in the possession of the court clerks at the Mesa County Justice Center of the 21st Judicial District for the State of Colorado.


County Response Methods

The governmental entity is allowed three working days to process requests starting the first working day after the request is sent; or up to ten days if extenuating circumstances apply.

Responsive documents can be provided to the requestor in one of the following formats:

  • Paper form
  • Electronic (.pdf) form
  • Disk

The requestor can request his/her preferred delivery method and the County will strive to comply with such request, if at all possible. Due to the manner in which some documents are stored, a requested format may not always be possible, or it may increase the expense.

If the preferred method of delivery of documents is not possible or would markedly increase the cost, county personnel working on the request will notify the requestor at the earliest opportunity.

If no method is preferred, the custodian of the records may mail, fax, e-mail or burn to a disk the requested documents -whichever is both most practical and economical in the custodian's reasoned opinion.

Fee Schedule

If the request requires over 1 hour of time to prepare, the requestor will be charged $30.00 per hour thereafter other than legal review.

The hourly fee of $30.00 for the second hour and beyond will be charged in addition to the appropriate per copy cost, if applicable.

  • If the document is available in electronic version, there shall not be a per-page charge.
  • Paper copies are charged at the rate of $.25 per page. 
    • If you request a printed document, or if a document must be printed before it can be emailed, the page charge will apply in addition to the hourly charge.
    • The requestor may choose to view the documents on-site to forego or reduce this page charge.

Deposit May be Required

If a requestor has submitted a request which requires extensive research and is time intensive, Mesa County will estimate the hours to review and assemble the documents and transmit said estimate to the requestor.

Mesa County may likewise require a deposit or prepayment in full. With a deposit or prepayment, county resources are not spent prior to reimbursement for preparing documents for review or distribution that may not occur.

Waiver of fees and charges

Charges may be waived for nominal requests, such as when the information is readily available and the copies are generally less than eight (8) pages.

Fees may also be reduced or waived if the documents will be used for

  • Non-profit activities
  • Journalism
  • Academic research

Fee reductions shall be uniformly applied in these instances.

Colorado Open Records Act Payment

If payment is required, make an Online Payment.

Online Payment System

Mesa County Timeframes to Respond to Requests

CORA requires that usual and customary requests for records be complied with within three working days or less (excluding the day the request came in). However, be advised that CORA also provides for an extension for compliance when there is a finding of "extenuating circumstances." C.R.S. 24-72-203(3).

Additional Resources