FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by

FINAL DECISION

H. Richard Borer, Sr.,

 

 

Complainants

 

 

against

 

Docket #FIC 1997-140

Board of Commissioners, West Shore Fire District, Town of West Haven,

 

 

Respondents

February 25, 1998

        The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on October 14, 1997, at which time the complainant 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(1), G.S., ( 1-18a(a), G.S., prior to Oct. 1, 1997).

        2. By letters dated April 15 and 21, 1997 and filed on April 25, 1997, the complainant appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act by:

a. discussing in executive session on April 10, 1997 the budget for the May 1997 annual meeting;

b. failing to answer questions about the Pension Board of Trustees;

c. improperly scheduling executive sessions;

d. improperly noticing meetings;

e. filing incomplete minutes;

f. failing to file records with the town clerk; and

g. failing to provide the complainant on April 21, 1997 with a copy of the April 10, 1997 minutes.

        3. In his April 15, 1997 letter of complaint the complainant also alleged that the respondent over expends its appropriations and does very little, if any, documenting of line item over expenditures and transfers. However, such allegations are not within the scope of this Commission’s jurisdiction.

        4. It is found that the respondent held a regular meeting on April 10, 1997 (hereinafter "meeting").

        5. With respect to the allegation described in paragraph 2a of the findings, above, it is found that at the meeting the respondent held budget discussions in executive session.

        6. It is found that the budget discussions, described in paragraph 5 of the findings above, do not constitute a proper purpose for executive session within the meaning of 1-18a(6), G.S.

        7. It is therefore, concluded that the respondent violated 1-18a(6), G.S. and 1-21(a), G.S., by having budget discussions in executive session.

        8. With respect to the allegation described in paragraph 2b of the findings, above, it is found that nothing in the FOI Act requires that the respondent answer questions. The complainant has a right under the FOI Act to request inspection and/or copying of public records, and the respondent has an obligation, upon the receipt of any such request, to permit the inspection and/or copying of such public records.

        9. With respect to the allegations described in paragraph 2c through 2f, inclusive, of the findings above, no evidence was provided in support of such allegations.

        10. With respect to the allegation described in paragraph 2g of the findings, above, it is found that the April 10, 1997 minutes were available for inspection within seven days of the meeting, however, the respondent was unable to provide the complainant with a copy of such minutes at the time of his visit due to a problem with the respondent’s photocopier.

        11. It is concluded that with respect to the allegations described in paragraph 2b through 2g, inclusive, of the findings, above, the respondent did not violate the FOI Act.

        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 conduct executive sessions in strict accordance with the purposes permitted as set forth in 1-18a(6), G.S.

        2. Forthwith, the respondent shall provide the complainant with a copy of the April 10, 1997 meeting minutes.

        3. The Commission wishes to suggest to both parties that in keeping with the intent and spirit of the FOI Act they each work toward the improvement of their dialogue and communication which should avoid future complaints of this nature.

        Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of February 25, 1998.

_________________________
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:
H. Richard Borer, Sr.
67 Ocean Avenue
West Haven, CT 06516

Board of Commissioners, West Shore Fire District, Town of West Haven
c/o Louis Smith Votto
Donahue, Votto & DeGennaro, PC
415 Main Street
P.O. Box 411
West Haven, CT 06516 - 0411

__________________________
Doris V. Luetjen
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC1997-140/FD/tcg/02251998