FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Misty Williams and Dawn Massey,  
  Complainants  
  against   Docket #FIC 2004-544

Jill Wood, Assistant to Assessor,

Town of Branford,

 
  Respondent September 28, 2005
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on May 26, 2005, at which time the complainants and the respondent appeared and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.  At the hearing, the hearing officer granted Dawn Massey party status and the case caption was modified accordingly.  For purposes of hearing, contested cases, docket #s FIC 2004-442, Misty Williams and Dawn Massey v. Jill Wood, Assistant to Assessor, Town of Branford, FIC 2004-476, Misty Williams and Dawn Massey v. Jill Wood, Assistant to Assessor, Town of Branford and FIC 2004-510, Misty Williams and Dawn Massey v. Jill Wood, Assistant to Assessor, Town of Branford were consolidated with the above-captioned case.

                             

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 by letters dated November 4 and 5, 2004, respectively, the complainants requested that the respondent provide them with “a certified copy on paper of the complete town record” that identifies the individual who inspected/appraised the following properties, and the date such individual inspected the property:

 

i)                    15 Buena Vista Road– inspection for the 2004 Grand List; and

ii)                   127 Highland Avenue – inspection for the 2004 Grand List.

 

3.  It is found that by letters dated November 5, 2004, the respondent, through Trista Clyne, Administrative Assistant to the First Selectman, acknowledged receipt of the requests, and indicated that the Town of Branford (“town”) would review its records to locate any responsive documents and would notify the complainants accordingly.

 

4.    By letter dated November 29, 2004 and filed on December 1, 2004, the complainants appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information  Act by failing to provide them with the certified records requested.  The complainants requested that civil penalties be imposed upon the respondent.

 

 5.  Section 1-210(a), G.S., provides 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 … (3) receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212.  [Emphasis added].

 

6.  Section 1-212(a), G.S., further provides that: “[A]ny person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record”.

 

7.  With respect to the requests as described in paragraph 2, above, it is unclear from the record whether records responsive to the complainants’ requests exist.

 

8.  Consequently, it is concluded that to the extent the respondent maintains records concerning the properties described in paragraph 2, above, that are responsive to the complainants’ requests and have not provided the complainants with a certified copy of such records, the respondent violated 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S.  However, to the extent that no records exist that are responsive to the complainants’ requests, the respondent did not violate 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S.

 

9.  Both the complainants’ and the respondent’s requests to consider the imposition of civil penalties are denied.

The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:

1.  Forthwith, the respondent shall search the town’s records and provide the complainants with a certified copy of any existing records found (including, but not limited to field cards and lists such as Complainants’ Exhibit H and Respondent’s Exhibit 1), whether such records are stored electronically or in paper format, concerning the following properties, and which records identify in any way a person(s) or business entity that was either assigned to, or did inspect the following properties:

 

i)                    15 Buena Vista Road– inspection for the 2004 Grand List; and

ii)                   127 Highland Avenue – inspection for the 2004 Grand List.

 

2.  Within two weeks of notice of the final decision in this case, if no records are found, the respondent shall provide the complainants with an affidavit indicating that after a complete and thorough search of the town’s records no records responsive to the complainants’ requests were found.  Such affidavit shall indicate the nature and extent of the respondent’s search.     

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of September 28, 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:

 

Misty Williams

225 Stony Creek Road

Branford, CT 06405

 

Dawn Massey

225 Stony Creek Road

Branford, CT 06405

 

Jill Wood, Assistant to Assessor,

Town of Branford

c/o Elizabeth P. Gilson, Esq.

383 Orange Street

New Haven, CT 06511

 

 

___________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

FIC/2004-544FD/paj/9/28/2005