FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
John H. Chipman,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2005-235
Board of Finance, Town of Somers,  
  Respondent October 26, 2005
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on August 11, 2005, 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 1-200(1), G.S.

 

2.  By letter of complaint dated May 19, 2005, and filed on May 23, 2005, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by conducting telephone meetings on April 26 and 27, 2005 to vote a transfer of $3287 from the tax collector’s salary.

 

3.  It is found that on April 26 and continuing on April 27, 2005, the treasurer of the town of Somers (hereinafter “treasurer”), who is not a member of the respondent, conducted a telephone poll of the six members of the respondent.  It is found that the treasurer telephoned each member, one by one, and solicited from each whether they would support transferring $3287 from the tax collector’s salary account to fund the part-time clerical position within the tax collector’s office.  It is found that the treasurer was successful in reaching five of the six members, four of whom indicated that they would support the transfer, and one indicating no.  The treasurer was unable to reach the sixth member.

 

4.  It is found that at the respondent’s special meeting held on May 9, 2005, the respondent voted to transfer the funds as described in paragraph 3, above.  The minutes of the May 9, 2005 meeting reference “the telephone vote of last week”.

 

5.  The complainant contends that the telephone poll conducted by the treasurer on April 26 and 27, 2005 was a meeting of the respondent, which was not publicly noticed and for which no record of votes is available.

 

6.  Section 1-200(2), G.S., in relevant part, defines “meeting” to include:

 

any communication by or to a quorum of a multimember public agency, whether in person or by means of electronic equipment, to discuss or act upon a matter over which the public agency has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power.

 

7.  It is found that the members of the respondent did not communicate among themselves by telephone on April 26 and 27, 2005.  Rather, it is found that the treasurer, concerned about the impending shortfall in funds and being faced with the situation of not having enough funds to pay the part-time clerk’s next paycheck, discussed his concerns with the respondent’s chairman.  After such discussion, the treasurer contacted each member of the respondent to see if each would support the transfer, as described in paragraph 3, above.

 

8.  It is found that the treasurer’s telephone communication to each member of the respondent, as described in paragraph 3, above, is distinguishable from the respondent’s members communicating among themselves.

 

9.  It is concluded that under the facts and circumstances of this case there was no communication by or to a quorum of the respondent on April 26 and 27, 2005, within the meaning of 1-200(2), G.S., and consequently, no meeting was held by the respondent.

 

10.  It is therefore further concluded that the respondent did not violate the FOI Act, as alleged in the complaint.

11.  It is apparent from the evidence in the record why the complainant believed that the respondent conducted a meeting, and therefore brought this complaint in good faith.

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 October 26, 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:

 

John H. Chipman

Edward J. Jekot, Sr., Tax Collector

c/o John H. Chipman

28 Pomeroy Lane

Somers, CT 06071

 

Board of Finance,

Town of Somers

600 Main Street

Somers, CT 06071 and

c/o David Pinney, First Selectman

Town of Somers

PO Box 308

600 Main Street

Somers, CT 06071

 

 

___________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

FIC/2005-235FD/paj/10/31/2005