FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by

FINAL DECISION

J. Anthony Crawford,  

Complainant

 

against

Docket #FIC 1996-553

Michelle J. Hansen, Chairman, Board Of Assessors, Town Of Sherman; Elizabeth Hanson, Richard J. McGoldrick, Harold Maddocks, Jr., as members of the Board Of Assessors; and Board Of Assessors, Town Of Sherman,  

Respondents

July 30, 1997

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on March 27, 1997, at which time the complainant and respondents 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 respondents, with the exception of Harold Maddocks, Jr., are public agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.

2. By letter dated October 21, 1996 and filed with the Commission on October 28, 1996, the complainant alleged that the respondent board has failed to post notices of its meetings or to file agendas and minutes of its meetings concerning property assessments, including specifically the reclassification of the complainant’s real property.

3. The complainant requested the imposition of civil penalties against the respondents in his appeal, but withdrew the civil penalty request at the hearing.

4. The respondent board contends that it is an elected board, within the meaning of 9-199(a), G.S., which performs routine assessment functions, including revaluing land, reclassifying and declassifying real property, as well as preparing the town’s grand list.

5. The respondent board also contends that, with the exception of preparation of the grand list requiring each assessor’s signature, its members operate independently with respect to the daily functions performed by the board, as described in paragraph 4, above.

6. The respondent board further contends that no votes are taken with respect to the assessments made and that the respondent board has no supervision, control or jurisdiction over an assessment.

7. Section 1-18a(b), G.S., provides, in relevant part, that:

[m]eeting means any hearing or other proceeding of a public agency, any convening or assembly of a quorum of a multimember public agency, and any communication by or to a quorum of a multimember public agency, whether in person or by means of electronic equipment, to discuss or act upon a matter over which the public agency has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power....

8. It is found that the members of the respondent board function as individual staff members when performing the administrative duties associated with reevaluating, reclassifying or declassifying real property, and that the performance of such duties does not entail a meeting within the meaning of 1-18a(b), G.S.

9. It is also found, however, that when the respondent board members meet collectively to conduct business required to be taken as a multi-member public agency, such meetings constitute meetings within the meaning of 1-18a(b), G.S., and the respondent board must then comply with the open meeting requirements of the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act.

10. Therefore, it is concluded that the complainant failed to prove a violation of the FOI Act with respect to the allegations contained in the complaint herein.

The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:

1. The complaint is hereby dismissed.

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of July 30, 1997.

__________________________
Doris V. Luetjen
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:
J. Anthony Crawford
1998 Royal Saint George Ct.
Daytona Beach, FL. 32124

Michelle J. Hansen, Chairman, Board of Assessors, Town f Sherman; Elizabeth Hanson, Richard J. McGoldrick, Harold Maddocks, Jr., as members of the Board of Assessors; and Board of Assessors, Town Of Sherman
c/o D. Randall DiBella, Esq.
Cramer and Anderson
51 Main Street
P. O. Box 330
New Milford, CT. 06776

__________________________
Doris V. Luetjen
Acting Clerk of the Commission
fic1996-553/FD/mes/08141997