FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision
Dick Conrad and New Haven Register,
against Docket #FIC 91-398
New Haven Assessor,
Respondent September 9, 1992
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on July 2, 1992 and July 23, 1992, at which times the complainants and the respondent appeared and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.
After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:
1. The respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.
2. By letter dated December 2, 1991, the complainants requested the results of a reappraisal program conducted by Sabre Systems, including property addresses, map-block-parcels, types of properties, 1978 assessed values and 1991 assessed values. They also requested a list of the fields available in the respondent's data base as well as the "sales book" maintained by the assessor's office showing the sales prices for real property for the past several years. The complainants requested the information on computer tape.
3. By letter filed with this Commission on December 23, 1991, the complainants alleged that the respondent denied the request under the FOI Act by way of non-response.
4. At the hearings into this matter, that portion of the complainants' request for the "sales book" maintained by the assessor's office showing the sales prices for real property for the past several years was withdrawn.
5. It is found that the respondent contracted with Sabre Systems to assist him in making the reappraisal and revaluation of real property located in the city of New Haven (hereinafter "the project").
6. It is also found that all work carried out and all forms, materials and supplies utilized in the project were subject to the direct supervision and approval of the respondent.
Docket #FIC 91-398 Page 2
7. It is found that Sabre Systems had fulfilled and completed all of its obligations under its contract with the respondent (hereinafter "contract").
8. It is found that Sabre Systems designed property record cards ("street cards") that contained information concerning property values including but not limited to: location, usage classifications, physical characteristics, depreciated values, fair market values and assessment values.
9. The contract provided that Sabre Systems would complete these street cards with all measurements, listing, pricing, review and final valuation by September 30, 1991.
10. It is found that on November 25, 1991, Sabre Systems held a press conference at which they made a document available that summarized the completed revaluation process.
11. It is found that on or about December 9, 1991, the respondent mailed the property owners their notices of new assessments.
12. It is found that the records requested by the complainants and described in paragraph 2, above, are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d), G.S.
13. At the hearings into this matter, the respondent claimed that the data compiled by Sabre Systems was held at by Sabre Systems and was not available at the respondent's office at the time of the complainants' request. The respondent accordingly filed a motion to dismiss the case on the basis that the data was not a public record at the time of the complainants' request, which motion is denied.
14. The respondent also claims that the requested records are exempt from disclosure as preliminary drafts or notes pursuant to 1-19(b)(1), G.S.
15. It is found, however, that the respondent was involved in an ongoing review of the records generated by Sabre Systems along with six other members of his staff.
16. It is also found that although some appraisals may have been subject to change as a result of the hearing process during which property owners challenged and/or offered additional information concerning their assessments, the records at issue comprised part of the process by which governmental decisions were formulated within the meaning of 1-19(c), G.S.
17. It is accordingly concluded that the requested records are not exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(1), G.S.
Docket #FIC 91-398 Page 3
18. It is concluded that the respondent's failure to promptly provide the complainants with the requested records identified in the first sentence of paragraph 2, above, is a violation of 1-19(a), G.S.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint.
1. The respondent shall forthwith provide the complainants with a copy of the records identified in paragraph 2 of the findings, above, excepting the "sales book."
2. The respondent shall forthwith strictly comply with the provisions of 1-19(a), G.S.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of September 9, 1992.
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission
Docket #FIC 91-398 Page 4
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:
The New Haven Register
40 Sargent Drive
New Haven, CT 06511-5918
New Haven Assessor
c/o Attorney Aileen Bell
Office of the Corporation Counsel
770 Chapel Street
New Haven, CT 06510
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission