OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
|In the Matter of a Complaint by||FINAL DECISION|
|against||Docket #FIC 2001-482|
|Tax Assessor, City of Bridgeport,|
|Respondent||August 14, 2002|
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on December 20, 2001, at which time the complainants 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 §1-200(1), G.S.
2. It is found that it came to the attention of the complainants that certain taxpayers received letters regarding their tax assessment appeals that were inconsistent with the decisions taken by the Board of Assessment Appeals (“board”).
3. It is found that the complainants, by letter dated October 11, 2001 requested that the respondent provide them with “copies of the assessments and denials” made by the board (hereinafter “requested records”).
4. It is found that complainants Canales and Minor made verbal requests to the respondent on or about August 31 and September 4, 2001 for the requested records.
5. It is found that the Office of the City Attorney informed complainant Simmons in a letter dated September 27, 2001 that there is no “document stating all the decisions in one all inclusive form.”
6. By letter of complaint filed with the Commission on October 22, 2001, and supplemented by letter dated Nov 1, 2001 and filed on Nov 7, 2001, the complainants appealed, alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information Act by denying them access to the assessments granted and denied by the board.
7. Section 1-200(5), G.S., provides, that:
"Public records or files" means any recorded data or information relating to the conduct of the public's business prepared, owned, used, received or retained by a public agency, or to which a public agency is entitled to receive a copy by law or contract under section 1-218, whether such data or information be handwritten, typed, tape-recorded, printed, photostated, photographed or recorded by any other method.
8. Section 1-210(a), G.S., further provides, in relevant part:
(a) Except as otherwise provided by any federal law or state statute, all records maintained or kept on file by any public agency, whether or not such records are required by any law or by any rule or regulation, shall be public records and every person shall have the right to inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours or to receive a copy of such records in accordance with the provisions of section 1-212. Any agency rule or regulation, or part thereof, that conflicts with the provisions of this subsection or diminishes or curtails in any way the rights granted by this subsection shall be void. Each such agency shall keep and maintain all public records in its custody at its regular office or place of business in an accessible place and, if there is no such office or place of business, the public records pertaining to such agency shall be kept in the office of the clerk of the political subdivision in which such public agency is located or of the Secretary of the State, as the case may be. [Emphasis added.]
9. Section 1-212(a), G.S., further provides: “[a]ny person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record.”
10. It is found that the complainants, as members of the board, held hearings on tax appeals regarding tax assessments.
11. It is found that the board made decisions on the appeals, either granting or denying such appeals.
12. It is found that sometime during the tax appeal hearing process, an intern named Louis Silva, who had been hired by the respondent, entered the board’s decisions onto a disk using the respondent’s computer. It is found that the respondent’s office provides computer support for the board, which does not have its own office and equipment. It is found that prior to the completion of all of the appeals hearings Mr. Silva provided the board with a report of the entries of decisions made thus far.
13. At the hearing on this matter, the complainants explained that the record they are seeking is the final report, containing all of the board’s decisions, which report Mr. Silva should have generated from the information inputted by him onto the disk.
14. It is found however, that since Mr. Silva did not complete the final report he was given permission by the respondent to take the disk on which the report was stored with him to college to complete the work he started.
15. It is found that as of the date of the hearing in this matter Mr. Silva had not returned the disk.
16. It is concluded that the information contained on the disk constitutes “public records” within the meaning of §§1-200(5) and 1-210(a), G.S.
17. It is therefore, concluded that the respondent violated §1-210(a), G.S., by failing to keep and maintain a copy of the disk in accordance with the requirement of such provision.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. Forthwith, and in keeping with the representations of counsel, the respondent shall use his best efforts and take steps to retrieve from Mr. Silva the disk described in paragraph 13, above, and provide the complainants with a printout of the report contained on that disk, free of charge. If the respondent is not successful in retrieving the disk from Mr. Silva, the respondent shall provide the complainant with an affidavit detailing the steps taken to retrieve the disk from Mr. Silva and the results.
2. The respondent shall henceforth strictly comply with the provisions of §1-210(a), G.S.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of August 14, 2002.
Petrea A. Jones
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:
City of Bridgeport
c/o Russell D. Liskov, Esq.
Associate City Attorney
Office of City Attorney
999 Broad Street
Bridgeport, CT 06604
Petrea A. Jones
Acting Clerk of the Commission