FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by

FINAL DECISION

Jay V. Fletcher,

 

Complainant

 

 

against

 Docket #FIC 2002-414

Assessor, Town of East Hartford,

 

 

Respondent

March 12, 2003

 

 

 

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on November 1, 2002, 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 ß1-200(1), G.S.

 

2.      By letter dated September 6, 2002 and filed on September 10, 2002, the complainant appealed to the Commission and alleged that the respondent had failed to comply with this Commissionís order in docket #FIC 2002-170 (hereinafter ďFIC 2002-170Ē).

 

3.      More specifically, the complainant alleges that the respondent failed to provide for his inspection or copying all of the sales records used to determine the assessment for his property and all other properties on Colby Drive, East Hartford, Connecticut; failed to answer the complainantís questions regarding the data produced by the respondentís computer; and failed to communicate better with the complainant.  The complainant requested that this Commission impose a civil penalty against the respondent.

 

4.      At the hearing on this matter the complainant further alleged that the affidavit the respondent provided did not comply with the Commissionís order in FIC 2002-170 because the respondent did not specifically state which documents did not exist.  The complainant also alleged that he had not as yet been provided with the records that established the basis for, or the criteria used to determine, the various assigned values reflected on his and other property field cards.

 

5.      The Commission takes administrative notice of its record and final decision in contested case in FIC 2002-170 in which the commission issued the following order:

 

a.       Forthwith, the respondent assessor shall permit the complainant to inspect the tables, sales records and any other records used by the town or LGM in determining the reassessment of the complainantís property and all other properties on Colby Drive.

 

b.      The respondent assessor shall provide the complainant with an affidavit attesting to the fact that all records used by the town or LGM in determining the reassessment of the complainantís property and all other properties on Colby Drive (including but not limited to the tables and sales records, described in paragraph 1 of the order) have been made available to the complainant for his inspection and copying, and further specifying what, if any specific records requested, they do not have, and that such records do not exit.

 

c.       The Commission also suggests that both the complainant and the office of the respondent assessor use their best efforts to better communicate with each other.

 

6.      With respect to the complainantís allegation that the respondent failed to comply with the first order in FIC 2002-170 as set forth in paragraph 5a, above, it is found that the respondent provided all of the relevant sales records to the complainant for his inspection, which included over one hundred records. 

 

7.      It is found that subsequent to the complainantís inspection of all of the sales records he was provided with a copy of all of the sales records of property located in the section of the town in which the complainantís property is located.

 

8.      It is found that there is a dispute between the respondent and the complainant regarding whether the sales record of one property should have been included in the copies the complainant was provided.  

 

9.      It is found however that the sales records used in the revaluation process were those of properties of homes sold between October 1997 and October 2000 and the disputed sales record was not used because the property either was sold prior to October 1997 or did not constitute a valid sale pursuant to the assessment standards and therefore was not included in the copies the complainant received.

 

10.  It is found therefore that the respondent complied with the commissionís first order in FIC 2002-170.

 

11.  With respect to the complainantís allegation that the respondent did not comply with the second order in FIC 2002-170, as set forth in paragraph 5b, above, to specify in an affidavit which, if any, of the records requested by the complainant did not exist, it is found that the complainant met with the respondent on four separate occasions between June 5, 2002 and August 13, 2002.

 

12.  It is found that at the June 5, 2002 meeting, the respondent explained to the complainant the method used by the town to determine the 2000 reassessment values. That explanation included a review of the townís contract with the Glendinning Municipal Services (ďLGMĒ), the company which conducted the reassessments. 

 

13.  It is found that upon view of the contract the complainant learned that four documents should have been generated by LGM during the reassessment period. Those documents included procedures for field reviews, pricing schedules, cost schedules and methods for calculating the property values.

 

14.  It is found that notwithstanding the contract provisions, the respondent did not have the procedures for field reviews and the respondent informed the complainant that such document did not exist because the town decided to use its own procedures. 

 

15.  It is found that the complainant conceded that he was informed that the document did not exist and further the complainant did not challenge the respondentís representation that the document did not exist.

 

16.  It is found that by letter dated August 20, 2002, the respondent provided the complainant with an affidavit attesting to certain facts which included that all records used during the reassessment were made available to the complainant for inspection and copy and that he had been informed of the records that did not exist.

 

17.  It is found that the respondent did not strictly comply with the commissionís order with respect to the affidavit.

 

18.  It is also found, however, that the respondent complied with the spirit and intent of the entire order and the deficiencies of the affidavit are harmless. 

 

19.  Based on the forgoing, it is concluded that the respondent complied with the commissionís order in FIC 2002-170 and the complainantís request for the imposition of a civil penalty 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

March 12, 2003.

 

 

________________________________________________

Dolores E. Tarnowski

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:

 

Jay V. Fletcher

116 Colby Drive

East Hartford, CT   06108-1416

 

 

Assessor, Town of East Hartford

c/o Jose R. Ramirez, Esq.

Assistant Corporation Counsel

740 Main Street

East Hartford, CT   06108

 

 

________________________________________________

Dolores E. Tarnowski

Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

 

FIC/2002-414/FD/det/03142003