FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Nancy Rossi,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2004-389
Department of Finance, City of West Haven,  
  Respondent  June 8, 2005
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on December 2, 2004, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.   At the hearing on this matter, Silver’s Drug Shop, the subject of the records in this matter, requested and was granted intervenor status.

 

After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:

 

1.      It is found that the respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-200(1), G.S.

 

2.      By letter dated August 8, 2004 to the respondent, the complainant made a request for access to review “the property tax declarations for Silver’s Drug Shop for the years 2000, 2001, 2002, [and] 2003” (hereinafter “requested records”).

 

3.      By letter dated August 10, 2004, to the complainant, the respondent informed the complainant that a copy of the declaration page and evidence of signature would be provided for her inspection but that the detail supporting the declaration page is not available for public view pursuant to 1-210(b)(5)(A), G.S., because it is confidential financial data.

 

4.      By letter dated August 19, 2004 and filed on August 24, 2004, the complainant appealed to this Commission alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by denying her access to the detail supporting the declaration page.

 

 

5.      Section 1-210(a) provides in relevant part that:

 

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 . . . . 

 

6.      It is found that the requested records are public records within the meaning of 1-210(a), G.S.

 

7.      It is found that the respondent redacted the list of taxable personal property and their values from the requested records so that only the aggregate value of the declared taxable personal property of the intervenor was disclosed.       

 

8.      At the hearing on this matter, the complainant explained that the redacted portions of the requested records contained the exact information that she wanted to inspect.  The complainant argued that none of the statutes the respondent claimed to preclude or exempt disclosure of the requested records are applicable and that she should be permitted to examine an unredacted version of the requested records.

 

9.      At the hearing on this matter, the respondent explained that the exemption cited in its August 10, 2004 letter to the complainant was in error and that the respondent meant to claim 1-210(b)(5)(B) and 1-210(b)(10), G.S.  The respondent claimed that the redacted information is clearly financial or commercial information that is exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-210(b)(5)(B), G.S.  The respondent also claimed that the redacted information is exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-210(b)(10), G.S., because 12-41(c), G.S., provides that such information shall not be disclosed.

 

10.  With respect to the respondent’s claim that 1-210(b)(10), G.S., exempts the redacted information from disclosure, that section provides that nothing in the FOI Act shall require the disclosure of  “[r]ecords, tax returns, reports and statements exempted by federal law or state statues . . . .”

 

11.  It is found that 12-41 and 12-43, G.S., requires that each owner of tangible personal property file a declaration listing their taxable personal property with the tax assessor of the municipality in which that property is located.

 

12.  Section 12-41(c), G.S., provides in relevant part that “ . . . commercial or financial information in any declaration filed under this section shall not be open for public inspection.”

 

13.  It is found that the requested records, the list of taxable personal property and their values, constitute commercial or financial information filed with the declaration of the intervenor in the city of West Haven, pursuant to 12-41, G.S.

 

14.  It is concluded, that pursuant to 12-41(c), G.S., the redacted information is exempt from disclosure.

 

15.  It is therefore concluded that the respondent did not violate the disclosure provisions of 1-210(a), G.S., by providing the complainant with the redacted version of the requested records, described in paragraphs 7 and 8, above. 

 

16.  Since the requested records are exempt pursuant to 12-41(c), G.S., there is no need to consider application of 1-210(b)(5), G.S.

 

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 June 8, 2005.

 

________________________________

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:

 

Nancy Rossi

12 Robin Road

West Haven, CT 06516

 

Department of Finance,

City of West Haven

c/o Henry C. Szadkowski, Esq.

Assistant Corporation Counsel

355 Main Street

West Haven, CT 06516

 

Silver’s Drug Shop

c/o Vincent N. Amendola, Jr., Esq.

531 Campbell Avenue

West Haven, CT 06516

 

 

 

___________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

FIC/2004-389FD/paj/6/10/2005