FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by

FINAL DECISION

Herbert Latournes,  

Complainant

 

against

Docket #FIC 1996-412

Tax Collector, Chalker Beach Improvement Association  

Respondent

June 25, 1997

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on January 14, 1997, at which time the complainant appeared but the respondent did not. Thereafter the hearing was reopened and the matter was heard as a contested case on June 10, 1997, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. This matter was consolidated for purposes of hearing on June 10, 1997 with docket #FIC 1996-278, Herbert Latournes v. Secretary, Chalker Beach Improvement Association; and Treasurer, Chalker Beach Improvement Association (hereinafter "#FIC1996-278").

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 to the respondent dated July 5, 1996, the complainant requested to inspect or copy the tax records of the respondent for the years 1992 - 1996.

3. Having failed to receive a response to his request as set forth in paragraph 2, above, the complainant appealed to the Commission by letter dated July 23, 1996, and filed with the Commission on July 31, 1996.

4. The respondent contends that she did not receive the complainant’s letter of request as set forth in paragraph 2, above, and that in any event, the officers of the Chalker Beach Improvement Association complied with the complainant’s request on July 15, 1996 in response to the complainant’s requests that were the subject of docket #FIC1996-278. The respondent requests the imposition of civil penalties against the complainant.

5. The Commission takes administrative notice of its final decision in #FIC1996-278.

6. Section 1-19(a), G.S., states in pertinent part:

Except as otherwise provided by any federal law or state statute, all records maintained or kept on file by any public agency . . . shall be public records and every person shall have the right to inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours or to receive a copy of such records in accordance with the provisions of section 1-15.

7. Section 1-15(a), G.S., in turn, provides in pertinent part that "[a]ny person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record."

8. It is found that the respondent failed to prove that she did not receive the complainant’s letter of request as set forth in paragraph 2, above.

9. It is also found that the respondent was aware of the complainant’s request as set forth in paragraph 2, above.

10. It is further found that the respondent failed to prove that the compliance by the respondents in #FIC1996-278, as set forth in the final decision in that case, constituted full compliance with the complainant’s request in this case.

11. It is therefore found that the respondent failed to provide the complainant with access to inspect or copy the requested records in this case as required by 1-19(a) and 1-15(a), G.S.

12. Consequently, it is concluded that the respondent violated 1-19(a) and 1-15(a), G.S., by failing to comply with the complainant’s request as set forth in paragraph 2, above.

13. Given the conclusion in paragraph 12, above, the Commission, declines to impose a civil penalty on the complainant in this case, as requested by the respondent.

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 access to inspect or copy any of the requested records, as described in paragraph 2 of the findings, above, that were not in the possession of the respondents in #FIC 1996-278 and were therefore not provided to the complainant in response to his requests therein, including but not limited to, such items as receipts, billing statements, claims for tax abatement, and any other records dealing with taxation and receipt of taxes.

2. Although not raised in the complaint in this matter, the Commission notes that the Chalker Beach Improvement Association does not seem to be in compliance with 1-19(a), G.S., which requires every public agency to keep and maintain all public records in its custody at its regular office or place of business in an accessible place and, if there is no such office or place of business, in the office of the clerk of the political subdivision in which such public agency is located.

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of June 25, 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:
Herbert Latournes
5 Beach Road West
Old Saybrook, CT 06475-1603

Tax Collector, Chalker Beach Improvement Association
c/o Joseph C. Morelli, Esq.
Law Offices of Mark E. Salmone and Morelli
461 Farmington Avenue, Suite 100
Hartford, CT 06105

__________________________
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC 1996-412/FD/eal/06301997