FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
|In the Matter of a Complaint by||FINAL DECISION|
|Joel R. Anderson,|
|against||Docket #FIC 1998-067|
|Assessor, Office of the
of Old Saybrook; Office of the Assessor,
Town of Old Saybrook; and Town of
|Respondents||July 8, 1998|
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on May 4, 1998, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, 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 are public agencies within the meaning of §1-18a(a), G.S.
2. By letter dated February 27, 1998, the complainant requested copies of every record in the possession of the respondents, dated from July 1, 1992 to the date of the request, which relate to every computer operation used in connection with the public records of the respondent assessor (the requested records), and also asked that the copies of the requested records be provided without any charge to the complainant pursuant to §1-15(d)(3), G.S.
3. By letter dated March 5, 1998, the respondents declined to provide copies of the requested records free of charge.
4. By letter dated March 10, 1998, and filed on March 16, 1998, the complainant appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information Act by impos[ing] an illegal fee.
5. The complainant contends that compliance with his request would promote the general welfare by allowing dissemination of information relating to whether the respondents have complied, in the acquisition of computer systems, with the requirement of §1-19a(c), G.S., that they consider providing adequately for the rights of the public under the Freedom of Information Act at the least cost possible.
6. The respondents contend that waiver of the copying fee would not benefit the general welfare, noting also that non-exempt public records are available for inspection during business hours.
7. Section 1-15(d)(3), G.S., provides:
The public agency shall waive any fee provided for in this section when (3) in its judgment, compliance with the applicant's request benefits the general welfare. (emphasis added)
8. It is concluded that the judgment concerning benefits to the general welfare, and the resulting waiver of fees, pursuant to §1-15(d)(3), G.S., is in the sole discretion of the respondents.
9. Accordingly, the respondents did not violate §1-15(d)(3), G.S., when they declined to provide the requested records without any charge to the complainant.
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.
2. The Commission does not make any findings concerning the respondents assertion that the complainant has been engaged in recreational litigation herein and in Docket #FIC 1997-274, which alleged similar violations that were also dismissed by the Commission on February 25, 1998. However, the Commission does note that, pursuant to §1-21i(b)(2), G.S., the executive director of the Commission is prohibited, subject to the Commissions review, from scheduling an appeal for hearing if he has reason to believe an appeal would constitute an abuse of the Commissions administrative process.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of July 8, 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:
Joel R. Anderson 13 George Drive Old Saybrook, CT 06475-2636
Assessor, Office of the Assessor, Town of Old Saybrook; Office of the Assessor, Town of Old Saybrook; and Town of Old Saybrook c/o Atty. Jeremiah Donovan P.O. Box 554 Old Saybrook, CT 06575
__________________________ Doris V. Luetjen Acting Clerk of the Commission