FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
against Docket #FIC 94-221
Woodstock Board of Selectmen,
Respondent April 26, 1995
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on January 31, 1995, 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 respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.
2. By letter of complaint filed by facsimile on July 7, 1995, and by mail postmarked July 8, 1995, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondent had improperly held an emergency meeting on June 10, 1994.
3. It is found that the respondents held a meeting on June 10, 1994 without notice.
4. The respondents maintain the the meeting was properly held as an emergency special meeting pursuant to 1-21(a), G.S.
5. Section 1-21(a), G.S., provides in relevant part:
in case of emergency ... [a] special meeting may be held without complying with the foregoing requirement for the filing of notice but a copy of the minutes of every such emergency special meeting adequately setting forth the nature of the emergency and the proceedings occurring at such meeting shall be filed with ... the clerk of such political subdivision ... not later than seventy-two hours following the holding of such meeting. ...
6. It is found that the unnoticed June 10, 1994 meeting was held during a recess of a Woodstock board of finance meeting.
Docket #FIC 94-221 Page 2
7. It is found that the board of finance, during its own June 10, 1994 meeting, asked the respondent to hold an emergency meeting then and there to make recommendations as to where proposed budget cuts should be made.
8. The respondent maintains that its meeting was due to an emergency, because bond payments were due on August 15, 1994, requiring tax bills to go out soon after July 1, 1994 in order that the town have funds to make its bond payments without interim financing.
9. The respondent further maintains that if it had not held an emergency meeting on June 10, 1994, it could not have held a special meeting until June 14, the board of finance could not have then met until June 16, additional required meetings, including a town meeting and possible referendum, would have been delayed, and, ultimately, insufficient time would then have remained to finally approve the budget.
10. It is found, however, that even if no budget had been timely approved, the town had statutory authority to send out tax bills on July 1, 1994, and would have done so, albeit at some political and economic cost.
11. It is also found that the respondent's claims regarding the time available to approve a budget rest in part upon assumptions about the earliest date at which the board of finance could meet, which assumptions were not proven by the respondent.
12. It is further found that, at all times material--including the 24 hours before the June 10, 1995 board of finance meeting--the amount of time available to approve the budget and the probability of the respondent being asked to make budget cut recommendations to the board of finance was entirely foreseeable to the respondent.
13. It is therefore concluded that no true emergency existed on June 10, 1994, and that the respondent violated 1-21(a), G.S., by conducting a special meeting without 24 hours notice.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. Henceforth the respondent shall strictly comply with the requirements with 1-21(a), G.S.
Docket #FIC 94-221 Page 3
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of April 26, 1995.
Debra L. Rembowski
Clerk of the Commission
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:
486 Route 169
Woodstock, CT 06281
WOODSTOCK BOARD OF SELECTMEN
c/o Kent Sinclair, Esq.
Tyler, Cooper & Alcorn
CityPlace - 35th Floor
Hartford, CT 06103
Debra L. Rembowski
Clerk of the Commission