In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision


Thomas Supina, Jr.,




against Docket #FIC 87-175


Ashford Town Garage Building Committee,


Respondent September 9, 1987


The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on July 23, 1987, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.


After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found:


1. The respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.


2. By letters of complaint dated June 12, 1987 and June 13, 1987 and filed with the Commission on June 19, 1987 the complainant alleged that the respondent held a meeting on May 16, 1987 without conforming to the notice requirements provided in 1-21, G.S. The complainant also alleged that no minutes of the respondent's meetings have been filed with the town clerk since February, 1987, in violation of the Freedom of Information Act.


3. The complainant requested that the respondent be ordered to reimburse him for all of the expenses he incurred subpoenaing witnesses for the hearing before the Commission.


4. At hearing, the respondent stated that on May 16, 1987 there was a garage groundbreaking ceremony held at the site of the new town garage. The respondent further stated that this ceremony was strictly for the townspeople and the media and that its members did not discuss or act upon any matter of business during the ceremony or as a result of the groundbreaking ceremony.


Docket #FIC 87-175 Page 2


5. Section 1-18a(b), G.S., defines "meeting" as "any hearing or other proceeding of a public agency, any convening or assembly of a quorum of a multi-member public agency, whether in person or by means of electronic equipment, to discuss or act upon a matter over which the public agency has supervision, control or advisory power."


6. Section 1-18a(b), G.S., excludes from the definition of meeting "a social meeting neither planned nor intended for the purpose of discussing matters relating to official business."


7. It is found that the groundbreaking ceremony in question was strictly ceremonial and that there was no official business discussed, nor any action taken by the respondent during this ceremony.


8. It is therefore concluded that the ceremony in question did not constitute a meeting of the respondent as defined in 1-18a(b), G.S.


9. It is found that the respondent has kept minutes of all of its meetings on file in its place of business and in March, 1987, as a good-will gesture, began filing its minutes with the town clerk as well.


10. Section 1-19(a), G.S., requires each public agency which has no regular office or place of business to keep and maintain all public records in the office of the clerk of the political subdivision in which the public agency is located.


11. It is therefore concluded that the respondent did not violate 1-19(a), G.S., by keeping minutes of its meetings in its place of business and not in the office of the town clerk.


12. The complainant's request that he be reimbursed for subpoena fees is denied because there is no provision under the Freedom of Information Act which allows for such reimbursement.


Docket #FIC 87-175 Page 3


The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the above-captioned complaint:


1. The complaint is hereby dismissed.


Approved by the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of September 9, 1987.



Hilde Mayranen

Acting Clerk of the Commission