OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
|In the Matter of a Complaint by||FINAL DECISION|
|Robert Scioscia, Sr.,|
|against||Docket #FIC 2002-212|
Board of Assessment Appeals,
Town of Stratford,
|Respondents||December 11, 2002|
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on August 20, 2002, at which time the complainant and the respondent 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 respondent is a public agency within the meaning of ß1-200(1), G.S.
2. By letter of complaint received and filed with the Commission on May 8, 2002, the complainant alleged that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act by failing to maintain minutes of its April 9, 10 and 24, 2002 meetings regarding tax assessment reductions. The complainant requested the imposition of a civil penalty against the respondent.
3. It is found that the respondent held a properly noticed meeting on April 9, 2002, which was continued to April 10, 2002 and April 24, 2002, and that the minutes of such meetings were properly and timely filed in the respondentís office. It is also found that the complainantís request for a property tax assessment reduction was discussed at the continued meeting of April 24, 2002, and the minutes for that meeting were prepared and filed on April 25, 2002. It is further found that no verbatim minutes or tape recording were made of the April 24, 2002 meeting.
4. It is found that the procedure the respondent follows with respect to appeals for tax assessment reductions involves one member meeting with the petitioner. That member then files a report of his findings at the respondentís office.
5. It is found that sometime before April 9, 2002, the complainant met with Howard Johnson, a member of the respondent, regarding the complainantís petition for a reduction of the tax assessment on the 2001 Grand List with respect to his gas station property.
6. It is further found that on April 25, 2002, the complainant telephoned the respondentís office and asked for a verbatim record of what transpired at the meeting of the respondent on the previous evening with respect to his petition. He was informed that his petition was rejected along with those of other gas stations but that there was no verbatim record regarding his appeal. He was also informed that although Mr. Johnson was not present at the meeting, the respondent had available, any materials filed by Mr. Johnson in connection with the appeal. He was also told that he could see any material that was in his file, and could obtain a copy of the file at a cost of fifty (50) cents per page. The complainant did not request to see any material that may have been in his file.
7. It is further found that by letter dated April 26, 2002, the respondent notified the complainant that his petition for a reduction of the tax assessment was denied. It is also found that following receipt of this letter, the complainant again telephoned the respondent to ask for a copy of verbatim minutes regarding his appeal so he could determine why his appeal was denied. He was informed that his appeal had been denied because his assessment reflects the market value. He was also again informed that the respondent did not have a verbatim transcript or a tape recording of the proceedings.
8. At the hearing on this matter, the complainant stated that he sought only a copy of the transcript or tape-recording specifically regarding the discussion pertaining to his petition for a reduction of the tax assessment. He also maintained that he was told no minutes were kept regarding his appeal.
9. It is found that the complainant was informed on both April 25, 2002 and subsequently that no verbatim records or tape recordings existed regarding the respondentís meeting of April 24, 2002, but that minutes of the meeting did exist.
10. At the hearing on this matter, the complainant maintained that the respondent should have kept a tape recording or verbatim transcript of the April 24, 2002 meeting of the respondent concerning each individual property owner.
11. Section 1-210(a), G.S., provides in relevant part:
Each Ö[public] agency shall make, keep and maintain a record of the proceedings of its meetings.
12. Section 1-225(a), G.S., provides in relevant part:
The votes of each member of any Ö 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.
13. It is found that nothing in the FOI Act requires that a public agency tape record or create verbatim minutes of its proceedings.
14. It is therefore concluded that the respondent did not violate the FOI Act by not making a tape-recording of the meeting or keeping verbatim minutes of the meeting.
15. Since there were no violations of the FOI Act in this case, the complainantís request that this Commission impose a civil penalty against the respondent is denied.
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.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of December 11, 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:
Robert Scioscia, Sr.
1725 Stratford Avenue
Stratford, CT 06497
Petrea A. Jones
Acting Clerk of the Commission