December 12, 2000
Mr. Kenneth Baity
The staff of the Freedom of Information Advisory Council
is authorized to issue advisory opinions. The ensuing staff
advisory opinion is based solely upon the information presented
in your e-mail of November 18, 2000.
Dear Mr. Baity:
You have asked whether a volunteer rescue squad would be
considered a public body under the Virginia Freedom of Information
Act (FOIA). You indicate that the organization receives a
majority of its funding from citizen donations and United
Way contributions. You indicate that you do not think that
the organization receives state funding, other than vehicle
insurance and fuel.
Section 2.1-341 of FOIA provides:
"Public body" means any legislative body; any authority,
board, bureau, commission, district or agency of the Commonwealth
or of any political subdivision of the Commonwealth, including
cities, towns and counties; municipal councils, governing
bodies of counties, school boards and planning commissions;
boards of visitors of public institutions of higher education;
and other organizations, corporations or agencies in
the Commonwealth supported wholly or principally by public
funds. (Emphasis added).
Based upon the facts you have presented, it does not appear
that a volunteer rescue squad that is supported largely by
public donations would fall under the definition of a public
body. Public funding would not include voluntary, private
donations, either from individuals or an organization such
as the United Way. Public funds, as used in the definition,
refers to government expenditures of money to support agencies
or organizations. In order to be considered a public body,
an organization would have to be supported "wholly or principally"
by money received from a state or local government.
Thank you for contacting this office. I hope that I have
been of assistance.
Maria J.K. Everett