INDIAN TRAIL, N.C. -- What began as a simple request turned into a shocking response and one Indian Trail resident’s quest to hold the town's government accountable.
“We're accountable to the public," said Indian Trail Councilman David Waddell.
But concerned citizen Mark Wireman says that isn’t happening when it comes to the town’s budget.
"It's going towards projects that are not going to provide the basic and fundamental services of a town the size of Indian Trail," Wireman expressed.
So Wireman submitted a public information request for email correspondence to see what's behind budget decisions. He received an email from the town clerk saying the “staff will need to review and process approximately 65,000 emails before we can begin your request".
But what shocked Wireman even more was Councilman Chris King's email response to his request.
"We can't have staff members stop working their regular jobs to go sift through 65,000 emails. It has to stop. This is a colossal waste of time and talent," replied Councilman King.
"Very concerning that an elected official basically saying that, we, as the public, are wasting the town's people time in learning that, we, the public, should know about what's going on," Wireman says.
Councilman King told NBC Charlotte he isn't against public information requests, he just doesn't think the town manager and clerk should spend time sifting through and responding to them. But Councilman Waddell says it is their job or they need to hire someone to do it.
"We need to come to the understanding that we work for the people," said Waddell.
"Until the town gets to a point, council gets to a point where it wants to be open and transparent, they're going to see more and more of these requests come in," said Wireman.
NBC Charlotte contacted the town manager, who was not available to do an interview, but Councilman King did say he'll be in touch with the town attorney to find an option to see that the requests are answered.
According to state law, public information requests must be responded to. Councilman King and Waddell both acknowledged that as Indian Trail grows they might need to create a new position to respond to requests.