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McKinney, Texas, says $79,000 charge for email search was a mistake

That $79,229.09 price tag for a public records email search in McKinney, Texas? The city says it made a mistake.

Gawker Media writer Andy Cush, citing the Texas Public Information Act, had requested city emails pertaining to the July 5 incident in which a white McKinney police officer pointed his gun at black youths and pinned a teenage girl in a bathing suit to the ground outside a pool party, creating an international sensation.

The city informed Cush that searching its email system would require 2,231 hours of programmer time at a cost approaching $80,000.

In a letter to Cush on Wednesday the city apologized, saying the number was “not accurate,” and “in no way would the city presume to charge such an exorbitant fee.”

Software engineering experts had expressed skepticism at the original estimate, one describing the 2,231 hours required to perform an email search as “laughable.”

“The initial figure we received from McKinney was astoundingly high -- high enough to effectively keep hidden information the city is legally obligated to provide -- and I'm glad they've acknowledged it as such,” Cush told The Times.

“We sincerely apologize for the misinformation and the ensuing confusion, and we agree that the cost of more than $79,000 is at best implausible,” a city spokesman said in the letter to Cush. “The cost estimate was reached by mistake and should never have been communicated to you as a requestor for public records.”

The spokeswoman told The Times that the city’s legal team and information technology department were working to come up with a new estimate.

Twitter: @traceylien

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