FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by

FINAL DECISION

Janet L. Szoldra and Plymouth-Terryville-Pequabuck Taxpayers Association,  

Complainants

 

against

Docket #FIC 1996-292

Mayor, Town of Plymouth,  

Respondent

March 26, 1997

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on December 30, 1996, at which time the complainants 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. It is found that by letter dated June 28, 1996, the complainants requested that the respondent provide them with a list of all town paid employees, specifically, each employee’s annual salary and benefits (hereinafter "requested record").

3. It is found that the respondent, by letter dated July 1, 1996, informed the complainants that it would take extra staff time to "develop" the requested record, however, he expected to have it available by July 19, 1996. The respondent also in his July 1, 1996 letter requested that the complainants provide him with a copy of their membership list (hereinafter "membership list").

4. It is found that on July 18, 1996, the respondent informed the complainants that the requested record was ready, that the cost was $128.09 and that prepayment was required prior to obtaining a copy.

5. It is found that the complainants refused to pay the $128.09 for a copy of the requested record, however, they were permitted to inspect it, and at that time copied it by hand.

6. It is found that the $128.09, described in paragraphs 4 and 5 of the findings, above, represents four and a half hours of labor at the hourly salary rate of the comptroller, who created the requested record.

7. The complainants contend that the respondent failed to provide them with advance notice of the $128.09 cost, and informed them of such cost on July 18, 1996 only after the requested record had been prepared.

8. The respondent contends that the fee of $128.09 is permitted pursuant to 1-19a(a), G.S.

9. Section 1-19a(a), G.S., provides that:

Any public agency which maintains public records in a computer storage system shall provide, to any person making a request pursuant to this chapter, a copy of any nonexempt data contained in such records, properly identified, on paper, disk, tape or any other electronic storage device or medium requested by the person, if the agency can reasonably make such copy or have such copy made. Except as otherwise provided by state statute, the cost for providing a copy of such data shall be in accordance with the provisions of section 1-15.

10. It is found that the requested record was not at the time of the complainants’ request a public record maintained by the respondent in a computer storage system or nonexempt data contained in such a record, within the meaning of 1-19a(a), G.S.

11. It is therefore, concluded that 1-19a(a), G.S., is inapplicable to the requested record.

12. It is found that after receiving the complainants’ request, the respondent instructed the comptroller to create the requested record.

13. It is found that the comptroller gathered the employees’ names, salaries and benefits information from various sources, and inputted such information into his computer, thereby creating the requested record.

14. It is concluded that although a good faith attempt to provide the complainant with the precise information she wanted, nothing in the FOI Act required that the respondent create the non-existing requested record, or now permits the respondent to pass on to the complainants the labor cost of $128.09 involved in creating such a record.

15. It is therefore, concluded that although well intentioned, the respondent technically violated 1-15(a), G.S., by charging the complainants a copying fee in excess of fifty cents per page.

16. The complainants further contend that the respondent’s request for their membership list, described in paragraph 3 of the findings above, was an improper precondition imposed by the respondent when he received their request for the requested record.

17. However, it is found that the respondent did not at any time require that the complainants first provide him with their membership list prior to receiving a copy of the requested record.

18. It is therefore, concluded that the respondent’s request for the complainants’ membership list was not a precondition, and did not violate any provisions of the FOI Act.

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 complainant with a copy of the requested record at a cost of no more than fifty cents per page.

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of March 26, 1997.

__________________________
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting 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:

Janet L. Szoldra and Plymouth-Terryville-Pequabuck Taxpayers Association
PO Box 66
Plymouth, CT 06782

Mayor, Town of Plymouth
c/o William J. Tracy, Jr., Esq.
43 Bellevue Avenue
PO Box 670
Bristol, CT 06011-0670

__________________________
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC1996-292/FD/eal/04041997