FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision
Gregory M. Conte,
against Docket #FIC 95-84
Monroe Board of Finance,
Respondent December 27, 1995
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on October 18, 1995, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. The matter was consolidated for purposes of hearing with Gregory M. Conte v. Monroe Board of Finance, Docket #FIC 95-85.
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 March 17, 1995 and filed on March 20, 1995, the complainant appealed to the Commission and alleged that the respondent conducted an emergency meeting for an improper purpose and failed to set forth the nature of the emergency at such meeting.
3. It is found that on March 7, 1995 at 9:12 p.m., the respondent held an emergency meeting to discuss and vote upon a resolution concerning the town of Monroe's (hereinafter "the town") acquisition of real property known as the Whitney Farms Golf Course (hereinafter "Whitney Farms").
4. Section 1-21(a), G.S., provides, in pertinent part:
[I]n case of emergency ... any such 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.
#FIC 95-84 Page 2
5. The respondent claims that it was necessary to schedule the meeting within twenty-four hours and without notice to the public in order to adhere to a time-line schedule for acquisition of Whitney Farms.
6. More specifically, the respondent claims that the town had to notice a town meeting scheduled for March 14, 1995 by March 8, 1995, in order for the newspaper to publish the notice, and that this necessitated the respondent's emergency meeting on March 7, 1995 because its appropriations approval was required before the town meeting could take place.
7. The respondent further claims that the 1995 golf season was scheduled to open at Whitney Farms on April 15, and that the town would lose revenue if it did not acquire Whitney Farms prior to the opening of the season.
8. It is found that potential loss of revenue was referenced as the nature of the emergency at the March 7, 1995 meeting and in the minutes thereof filed on March 10, 1995.
9. It is found that Selectman Heitze, the principal negotiator for the town, created a time-line sequence of the obligations the town had to fulfill in order to finalize the purchase of Whitney Farms prior to the commencement of the golf season.
10. It is found that the time-line referenced in paragraph 9, above, was last revised on March 1, 1995, and projected the necessary date for approval by the respondent as March 7, 1995.
11. It is found that the contract terms were agreed to by the seller and the town on the morning of March 7, 1995, one day later than projected by the town. The respondent also claims that the one-day delay necessitated its emergency meeting.
12. It is found, however, that the respondent had not noticed any special meetings for the first week of March 1995 concerning the acquisition of Whitney Farms.
13. It is found that on the evening of March 6, 1995, the chairman of the respondent called the emergency meeting for March 7, 1995, at the suggestion of Selectman Heitze.
14. It is found that the respondent was aware on March 1, 1995, that its appropriations approval was required by March 7, 1995, in order to adhere to the time-line referenced in paragraph 9, above.
#FIC 95-84 Page 3
15. It is found that the respondent had the opportunity to provide the public with a minimum of twenty-four hours notice of its March 7, 1995 meeting concerning Whitney Farms.
16. It is found that the reasons for the respondent's March 7, 1995 meeting did not constitute an emergency within the meaning of 1-21(a), G.S.
17. It is concluded that by meeting without notice to the public concerning the acquisition of Whitney Farms, the respondent violated the provisions of 1-21(a), G.S.
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 of 1-21(a), G.S.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of December 27, 1995.
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission
Docket #FIC 95-84 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:
Gregory M. Conte
136 Wheeler Road
Monroe, CT 06468
Monroe Board of Finance
c/o James White, Jr., Esq.
850 Main Street
Bridgeport, CT 06601
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission