FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
|In the Matter of a Complaint by||FINAL DECISION|
|Gloria A. Stearns,|
|against||Docket #FIC 1998-135|
|Board of Finance, Town of Ridgefield,|
|Respondents||September 9, 1998|
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on July 14, 1998 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.
2. By letter of complaint dated May 6, 1998 and filed with the Commission on May 11, 1998, the complainant alleged that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act by a) holding a public hearing on April 30, 1998 without filing a notice of such hearing with the town clerk and b) conducting the public hearing without a quorum of the respondent present. The complainant requested that the commission impose a civil penalty upon the respondent.
3. It is found that the respondent held a public hearing at 7:30 p.m. on April 30, 1998 to consider increasing the elderly tax credit.
4. Section 1-18a(2), G.S., provides that "meeting" means any hearing or other proceeding of a public agency.
5. Section 1-21(a), G.S., in relevant part, further provides:
Notice of each special meeting of every public agency shall be given not less than twenty-four hours prior to the time of such meeting by filing a notice of the time and place thereof in the office of the clerk of such subdivision for any public agency of a political subdivision of the state . The secretary or clerk shall cause any notice received under this section to be posted in his office .
6. It is concluded that the April 30, 1998 public hearing was a meeting within the meaning of §1-18(2), G.S.
7. It is also concluded that the April 30, 1998 public hearing was a special meeting within the meaning of §1-21(a), G.S.
8. It is found that the respondent did not file a notice of the public hearing with the town clerk at least twenty four hours prior to the convening of such hearing.
9. It is therefore, concluded that the respondent violated the notice of meeting provision of §1-21(a), G.S.
10. It is found however, that the respondent filed a newspaper notice in the Ridgefield Press on the day of the public hearing in an attempt to provide the public with some indication that such a hearing would be held.
11. With respect to the allegation that the respondent conducted the public hearing without a quorum of its members present, it is concluded that nothing in the FOI Act requires that a quorum be present at such a hearing.
12. The Commission in its discretion declines to impose a civil penalty in this matter.
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 strictly comply with the notice of meeting provision of §1-21(a), G.S.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of September 9, 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:
Gloria A. Stearns 10 Stonecrest Road Ridgefield, CT 06877
Board of Finance, Town of Ridgefield c/o Atty. J. Allen Kerr Jr. 400 Main Street Ridgefield, CT 06877
__________________________ Doris V. Luetjen Acting Clerk of the Commission