FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Carol L. Panke,
against Docket #FIC 94-93
Bloomfield Town Manager and Bloomfield Town Council,
Respondents August 10, 1994
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on July 7, 1994, 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 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 28, 1994, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that her March 24, request for certain records had been denied, and that the notice of the "budget work sessions" was deficient.
3. It is found that the complainant by letter dated March 24, 1994 requested from the respondent town manager a copy of the town of Bloomfield's 1994-1995 budget in the form that it was given to the respondent town council, together with the back-up sheets submitted to the town manager by each department explaining all budgeted items in the various departments.
4. It is found that the respondent manager denied the complainant's request for the back-up sheets.
5. It is found that the back-up sheets are submitted to the town manager pursuant to 902 of the town charter, of which section the Commission takes administrative notice at the request of the complainant.
6. Section 902(a) of the Bloomfield town charter provides:
The head of each department, office or agency of the town supported wholly or in part from town funds or for which a specific appropriation is to be made, with the exception of the board of education, shall, at least one hundred twenty (120) days before the end of the fiscal year, file with the town manager on
Docket #FIC 94-93 Page 2
forms provided by him, a departmental budget request which shall include the expenditures to be made by his department, office or agency, the revenue other than tax revenue to be collected in the ensuing fiscal year, and such other information as may be required by the town manager or the town council.
7. It is found that the back-up sheets requested by the complainant are the documents submitted to the town manager pursuant to 902(a) of the town charter.
8. It is concluded that the back-up sheets are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d) and 1-19(a), G.S.
9. The respondent town manager maintains that the back-up sheets are exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(1), G.S., because they are subject to extensive revision during the budget proposal and approval process, and because the public interest in withholding them outweighs the public interest in disclosing them.
10. Section 1-19(b)(1), G.S., provides that nothing in the Freedom of Information Act:
... shall be construed to require disclosure of (1) preliminary drafts or notes provided the public agency has determined that the public interest in withholding such documents clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosure ....
11. Section 1-19(c), G.S., provides:
Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision (1) of subsection (b) of this section, disclosure shall be required of (1) interagency or intra-agency memoranda or letters, advisory opinions, recommendations or any report comprising part of the process by which governmental decisions and policies are formulated, except disclosure shall not be required of a preliminary draft of a memorandum, prepared by a member of the staff of a public agency, which is subject to revision prior to submission to or discussion among the members of such agency ....
12. It is found that the back-up sheets are interagency or intra-agency memoranda or reports comprising part of the process by which governmental decisions and policies are formulated, within the meaning of 1-19(c), G.S.
13. It is also found that the respondent town manager failed to prove that the back-up sheets are preliminary drafts of memoranda, prepared by a member of the staff of a public agency, which are subject to revision prior to submission to or discussion among the members of such agency.
Docket #FIC 94-93 Page 3
14. It is therefore concluded that, notwithstanding the provisions of 1-19(b)(1), G.S., the back-up sheets are required to be disclosed pursuant to 1-19(c), G.S.
15. It is concluded that the respondent violated 1-19(a) and 1-19(c), G.S., by failing to provide copies of the requested back-up sheets.
16. With respect to the complainant's allegation concerning the notice of the budget work sessions, it is found that the notice of budget work sessions did not specify the place of the meetings.
17. It is found that the budget work sessions were special meetings within the meaning of 1-21(a), G.S.
18. Section 1-21(a), G.S., provides that every notice of a special meeting "shall specify the time and place of the special meeting and the business to be transacted."
19. It is found that the respondent town manager corrected the notice of the budget meetings on about March 29, 1994 to reflect the place of the meetings.
20. It is concluded, however, that the respondent town council violated 1-21(a), G.S., by failing to include in its notice of budget meetings the place of the meetings that occurred before March 29, 1994.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. The respondent town manager shall forthwith provide to the complainant copies of the back-up sheets described in paragraphs 3 through 7 of the findings, above.
2. Henceforth the respondent shall strictly comply with the requirements of 1-19(a), 1-19(c) and 1-21(a), G.S.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of August 10, 1994.
Debra L. Rembowski
Clerk of the Commission
Docket #FIC 94-93 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:
CAROL L. PANKE
116 Wintonbury Avenue
Bloomfield, CT 06002
BLOOMFIELD TOWN MANAGER
c/o Eric Coleman, Esq.
101 Oak Street
Hartford, CT 06106
Debra L. Rembowski
Clerk of the Commission