FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

FINAL DECISION
Docket #FIC 1997-122
November 12, 1997

In The Matter of a Complaint by Carl F. Branciforte, Complainant
against
Chairman, Water Pollution Control Authority, Town of Cromwell; and Water Pollution Control Authority, Town of Cromwell, Respondents

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on September 9, 1997, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. The case caption has been amended to correctly identify the respondents.

After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:

1. The respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G. S.

By letter of complaint dated April 15, 1997 and filed on April 17, 1997, the complainant appealed to this Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information Act (hereinafter "FOI Act") by:

failing to file a record of votes within forty-eight hours of meetings held between February 3, 1997 and April 7, 1997;

failing to file minutes within seven days after meetings held between February 3, 1997 and April 7, 1997; and

by not having the meeting minutes taken by a clerk.

3. With respect to the allegations more fully described in paragraph 2a and b, above, 1-21(a), G.S., in relevant part provides:

The votes of each member of any such public agency upon any issue before such public agency shall be reduced to writing and made available for public inspection within forty-eight hours and shall also be recorded in the minutes of the session at which taken, which minutes shall be available for public inspection within seven days of the session to which they refer.

It is found that in March and in April of 1997, the complainant went to the town hall to inspect the minutes of the respondent authority and found that minutes of recent meetings were not available for public inspection.

It is further found that the respondent authority held meetings on February 3, 1997, March 24, 1997, and April 7, 1997.

It is further found that the respondent authority did not reduce its votes of the February 3, 1997, meeting to writing until it filed its minutes for such meeting with the town clerk on February 10, 1997.

It is further found however that the Commission lacks jurisdiction over the allegations pertaining to the February meeting because the complaint in this matter was filed beyond thirty days of the date the violation occurred.

It is further found that the respondent authority did not reduce the votes taken at the March 24 and April 7, 1997, meetings to writing until it filed its minutes for such meetings, which minutes were not filed with the town clerk until August 13, 1997.

It is further found that during the period at issue in this appeal, the person responsible for preparing the respondent authority’s meeting minutes was ill and that the meeting minutes had to be prepared by someone else.

It is further found, and the respondents concede, that the votes for the March and April meetings, were not reduced to writing and made available for public inspection within forty-eight hours and that the minutes for such meetings were not available for public inspection within seven days.

It is therefore concluded that the respondents violated the provisions of 1-21(a), G.S., with respect to filing the record of votes and minutes of their March and April meetings.

With respect to the allegation more fully described in paragraph 2c, above, it is found that the FOI Act does not address the method by which meeting minutes are to be taken.

13. It is therefore concluded that the Commission lacks jurisdiction over that portion of the complaint described in paragraph 2c, above.

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

1. Henceforth, the respondents shall strictly comply with the provisions of 1-21(a), G.S.

2. Although the Commission recognizes that the delay in recording the votes and preparing the minutes that are the subject of this appeal was due to the illness of the person responsible for preparing such minutes, the Commission wishes to remind the respondents that it is their responsibility to ensure compliance with the requirements of the FOI Act at all times, and strongly recommends that the respondents put necessary mechanisms in place to avoid similar violations of the FOI Act in the future.

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of November 12, 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:
Carl F. Branciforte
6 Woodlawn Drive
Cromwell, CT 06416-1415

Chairman, Water Pollution Control Authority, Town of Cromwell
22 Franklin Road
Cromwell, CT 06416

Water Pollution Control Authority, Town of Cromwell
41 West Street
Cromwell, CT 06416

__________________________
Doris V. Luetjen
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC1997-122/FD/tcg/11121997