Fee, fi, fo, fum: update/response

I received two comments yesterday from readers about another reader's suggestion for reducing costs from the Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum post earlier this week. The original suggestion came from a frequent records requester in California, and it appears that Virginia law isn't set up in a way to make the suggestion feasible. (p.s. Changes to VCOG Blog are in the works to allow responses to be posted.) Here's the quote the two comments refer to:
If an excessive cost is quoted for data produced by a county government, find out the cost for the voter registration file. This generally is a rather large file and it’s usually available at a very nominal sum to statesmen and aspiring statesmen. So when a county has told me the tax assessment file would be, say, $15,000, and I find out the voter file is available for $5 (both having a similar number of records), it’s given me some negotiating power.
Here's the first comment, from a city e-government manager:
While I think your example about the voter file is a good place to start to judge the locality's approach to fees, it's not always fair to compare an oft-requested database extract to a new one. If a query program has to be written to pull the data (which is often the case, especially with old systems), it's reasonable to expect that it will cost the first person who asks a lot more than the second person.
And here's the second comment, from a county elections registrar:
A county or city government cannot sell the voter list and should not "price it" for anyone.  The price information is available by calling the State Board of Elections (804-864-8901, 800-552-9745).
Thanks for the clarification, folks.

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