FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

Marissa Yaremich and

The New Haven Register,

 
  Complainants  
  against   Docket #FIC 2006-680

Board of Fire Commissioners,

West Shore Fire District,

City of West Haven,

 
  Respondent  June 13, 2007
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on May 3, 2007, at which time the complainants 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 public agency within the meaning of 1-200(1), G.S.

 

2.  It is found that, by letter dated November 3, 2006, the complainants requested that the respondent provide them with copies of various records pertaining to West Shore Fire District fire fighters, including employee lists, budgetary documents, and salary and benefit information.  

 

3.  It is further found that within the complainants’ November 3, 2006 records request was a request that the respondent “waive any applicable fees” associated with producing the records on the ground that the requested records would benefit the public. 

 

4.  It is further found that, by letter dated November 22, 2006, the respondent informed the complainants that the requested records were compiled, that its policy in response to a Freedom of Information request was to provide the first five pages of any request for no charge, with additional pages costing $.50 each, and that, according to this policy, the copying cost for the requested records would be $68.50.


            5.  It is found that, by check dated November 30, 2006, the complainants paid the $68.50 fee, and received the records they had requested from the respondent.

 

6.  By letter dated December 15, 2006, the complainants appealed to the Commission, requesting that the Commission order the respondent to reimburse the copying fee.

7.  The complainants contend that waiver of the copying fee is proper because “the information requested benefited the public’s welfare, considering the obtained information was utilized to compile a Dec. 7, 2006 article.”

            8.  Section 1-212(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that: 

 

Any person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record.  The fee for any copy provided in accordance with . . .  [the FOI Act] (1) By an executive, administrative or legislative office of the state, a state agency or a department, institution, bureau, board, commission, authority or official of the state, including a committee of, or created by, such an office, agency, department, institution, bureau, board, commission, authority or official, and also including any judicial office, official or body or committee thereof but only in respect to its or their administrative functions, shall not exceed twenty-five cents per page, and (2) By all other public agencies, as defined in section 1-200, shall not exceed fifty cents per page . . . .

 

9.       With respect to the complainants’ claim that the respondent should have

waived its fees for the requested records, 1-212(d)(3), G.S., provides in relevant part that:
 

The public agency shall waive any fee provided for in this section when . . . (3) in its judgment, compliance with the applicant’s request benefits the general welfare.  (Emphasis added.) 

 

            10.  It is found that the respondent considered the complainants’ request for a waiver of the copying fee, but denied such request because, in its judgment, compliance with the records request described in paragraph 2, above, would not benefit the general welfare. 

 

            11.  It is concluded that the judgment concerning the benefits to the general welfare, and the resulting waiver of fees, pursuant to 1-212(d)(3), G.S., is within the discretion of the respondent.  See, e.g., Docket #FIC 1998-067, Joel R. Anderson v. Assessor, Office of the Assessor, Town of Old Saybrook; Office of the Assessor, Town of Old Saybrook; and Town of Old Saybrook; Docket #FIC 1992-331, William Pillarella v. Middletown and City Clerk, and Middletown Charter Revision Committee.

 

            12.  Accordingly, the respondent did not violate 1-212(d)(3), G.S., when it declined to provide the requested records without any charge to the complainants. 

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 13, 2007.

 

________________________________

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:

 

Marissa Yaremich and

The New Haven Register

40 Sargent Drive

New Haven, CT 06511-5918

 

Board of Fire Commissioners,

West Shore Fire District,

City of West Haven

c/o Louis Smith Votto, Esq.

Donahue, Votto, DeGennaro & Dorsi, P.C.

415 Main Street

PO Box 411

West Haven, CT 06516-0411

 

 

___________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

 

FIC/2006-680FD/paj/6/25/2007