FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Edward A. Peruta, American News and Information Services, Inc., and Raymond G. LeFoll,

 

Complainants

 

against Docket #FIC 91-60

 

Town of Rocky Hill and Rocky Hill Board of Tax Review,

 

Respondents October 9, 1991

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on May 24, 1991, at which time the complainant Raymond G. LeFoll and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. The complainants Edward Peruta and American News and Information Services, Inc. agreed to a settlement of their complaint before the hearing. This case was consolidated for hearing with contested case Docket #FIC 91-70.

 

After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:

 

1. The respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.

 

2. By letter of complaint filed March 13, 1991, the complainants appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondent board of tax review had met in the previous thirty days without notice or agenda, and improperly convened in executive session.

 

3. It is found that the respondent board of tax review met on or about February 23, 1991 to hear the complainant LeFoll's appeal of the increased assessment of certain of his property.

 

4. It is found that the respondent board also met on or about March 2, 1991 to deliberate concerning the LeFoll's tax appeal.

 

5. It is found that the meetings referenced in paragraphs 3 and 4, above, were properly noticed under 1-21(a), G.S.

 

6. It is also found that LeFoll offered no evidence to prove that the respondents had improperly convened in executive session at either of the meetings referenced in paragraphs 3 and 4, above.

 

 

Docket #FIC 91-60 Page 2

 

7. LeFoll maintains that the respondent board met without notice in addition to the meetings described in paragraphs 3 and 4, above, to receive additional evidence concerning LeFoll's tax appeal.

 

8. It is found that individual members of the respondent board independently obtained assessment information from the tax assessor, both during the meetings described in paragraphs 3 and 4, above, and at other times.

 

9. It is found that the assessment information obtained included interpretations of computer-generated records, the meaning of codes, and the values of adjoining properties.

 

10. It is found that such information was used by the members of the respondent board to reach a decision concerning the assessment of LeFoll's property.

 

11. It is also found that members of the board did not meet together with the assessor outside of the meetings described in paragraphs 3 and 4, above, and did not discuss among themselves the information obtained from the assessor outside of those meetings.

 

12. It is concluded that the communications between the assessor and individual members of the board described above did not constitute meetings within the meaning of 1-18a(b), G.S.

 

13. LeFoll maintains that he was unfairly denied the opportunity to receive a fair hearing. Specifically, he claims that he was unable to present additional evidence in rebuttal of the information obtained by the board members from the assessor.

 

14. It is concluded, however, that such a claim fails to state a violation of the Freedom of Information Act.

 

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

 

1. The complaint is dismissed.

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of October 9, 1991.

 

 

Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission

 

Docket #FIC 91-60 Page 3

 

PURSUANT TO SECTION 4-180(c), G.S. THE FOLLOWING ARE THE NAMES OF EACH PARTY AND THE MOST RECENT MAILING ADDRESS, PROVIDED TO THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION, OF THE PARTIES OR THEIR AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE.

 

THE PARTIES TO THIS CONTESTED CASE ARE:

Edward A. Peruta

American News and Information Services, Inc.

P.O. Box 307

Rocky Hill, CT 06067

 

Raymond G. LeFoll, Esq.

2301 Silas Deane Highway

Rocky Hill, CT 06067

 

Town of Rocky Hill and Rocky Hill Board of Tax Review

c/o Richard W. Gifford, Esq.

1025 Silas Deane Highway

Wethersfield, CT 06109

 

 

Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission