FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

FINAL DECISION
Docket #FIC 1996-280
May 28, 1997

In the Matter of a Complaint by Lawrence G. Woodward, Complainant
against
Board of Commissioners, Warehouse Point Fire District, Respondent

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on December 17, 1996, at which time the complainant and respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts, and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. The case caption has been amended to correctly identify the respondent in this case.

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 dated and filed with the Commission on July 11, 1996, the complainant alleged that on July 1, 1996, the respondent held a meeting at which business was transacted which did not appear on the posted agenda for that meeting.

3. It is found that on July 1, 1996 the respondent held its regular monthly meeting.

4. It is found that prior to its July 1, 1996 meeting the respondent posted an agenda on the window of its firehouse.

5. Section 1-21(a), G.S., in relevant part provides that:

[t]he agenda of the regular meetings of every public agency, except for the general assembly, shall be available to the public and shall be filed, not less than twenty-four hours before the meetings to which they refer, in such agency's regular office or place of business or, if there is no such office or place of business, in the . . . office of the clerk of such subdivision for any public agency of a political subdivision of the state or in the office of the clerk of each municipal member of any multitown district or agency. Upon the affirmative vote of two-thirds of the members of a public agency present and voting, any subsequent business not included in such filed agendas may be considered and acted upon at such meetings.

6. It is found that copies of the agenda were neither available to the public twenty-four hours before the respondent’s July meeting, nor at the meeting.

7. It is also found that the complainant attended the respondent’s July meeting and asked for a copy of the meeting agenda, but it was not provided to him.

8. It is found that by letter dated July 11, 1996, the complainant made a written request for a copy of the agenda and the minutes of the respondent’s July meeting.

9. It is found that on or about July 25, 1996, the complainant received in the mail a copy of the minutes for the July meeting, but no agenda for that meeting was enclosed therewith.

10. The respondent contends that neither the original nor a copy of the July meeting agenda can be found, and although no one can recall with any specificity what items of business were listed on the agenda for the July meeting, only agenda items were discussed and voted upon at that meeting.

11. It is found that in the absence of either the original or a copy of the July meeting agenda, the respondent has failed to prove that only agenda items were discussed and voted upon at the meeting.

12. It is concluded that the respondent violated the provisions of 1-21(a), G.S., by: failing to file its July meeting agenda in its office; failing to make its July meeting agenda available to the complainant; and transacting business not included on the posted agenda for the July meeting.

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 agenda requirements set forth in 1-21(a), G.S.

2. At the hearing on this matter guidance was sought from the Commission concerning the cost of copies of public records, and the respondent’s policy of locking the front door of the building where its public meetings are held. The Commission advises the respondent that the cost of plain copies of public records provided in accordance with the provisions of 1-15(a), G.S., cannot exceed fifty cents per page, and further suggests that it would be prudent for the respondent to conspicuously post a sign on the front door of its meeting location stating that the side door is unlocked for entry to the building.

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of May 28, 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:

Lawrence G. Woodward
425 Warmwood Hill Road
Mansfield, CT 06250

Board of Commissioners, Warehouse Point Fire District
ATTN: Maria Martineau, Chairman and Clerk
89 Bridge Street
East Windsor, CT 06088

__________________________
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC 1996-280/FD/eal/06061997