FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
|In the Matter of a Complaint by||FINAL DECISION|
|Candida Deleppo and Philip Deleppo,|
|against||Docket #FIC 2009-143|
Assessor, Town of Harwinton; and Office
of the Assessor, Town of Harwington,
|Respondents||October 14, 2009|
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on June 16, 2009, at which time the complainants and the respondents 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 respondents are public agencies within the meaning of §1-200(1), G.S.
2. It is found that, by letter dated February 17, 2009, the complainants sent a request for records to the respondents, in which they sought copies of the following records:
a. “recent comps you used to justify the new 100% FMV for lot 5 for my neighborhood which increased the value from $9,350 to $37,500;” and
b. “[the] Certificate of Correction #1943.”
3. By letter dated March 16, 2009 and filed March 18, 2009, the complainants appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by not complying with their request for records.
4. Section 1-200(5), G.S., provides:
“Public records or files” means any recorded data or information relating to the conduct of the public’s business prepared, owned, used, received or retained by a public agency, or to which a public agency is entitled to receive a copy by law or contract under section 1-218, whether such data or information be handwritten, typed, tape-recorded, printed, photostated, photographed or recorded by any other method.
5. Section 1-210(a), G.S., 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 . . . (3) receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212.
6. Section 1-212(a)(1), 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.
7. It is found that, to the extent that the respondents maintain the records described in paragraph 2, above, such records are “public records” and must be disclosed promptly in accordance with § § 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., unless they are exempt from disclosure.
8. It is found that, on or around March 3, 2009, the respondent Assessor spoke with the complainants in person concerning their request. It is further found that, at such time, the respondent Assessor informed the complainants that, in order to respond to the complainants’ request as set forth in paragraph 2.a., above, she would have to provide the complainants with the entire book of real estate sales comparisons, and could not simply provide them with those sales comparisons relied on in increasing the assessment for “lot 5,” located in the complainants’ neighborhood.
9. At the hearing, however, in response to a question posed on cross-examination, the respondent Assessor testified that, while the book of real estate sales comparisons contained a significant number of records, there were only approximately 20 pages of records in the respondents’ possession that she believed were actually responsive to the complainants’ request. The respondent Assessor further testified that these responsive records had not yet been provided to the complainants.
10. Accordingly, it is found that, at the time of the complainants’ request, the respondents were in possession of records that were responsive to the complainants’ request, but did not provide copies of such records to the complainants.
11. With respect to the request for a copy of the “Certificate of Correction #1943” set forth in paragraph 2.b., above, the complaint states that the respondent informed the complainants at the time of their request that these certificates are disposed of at the end of the tax year. At the hearing, the complainants testified that they realized that this was a records retention issue, not an FOI Act issue, and, as such, the complainants testified that they were not pursuing the complaint with regard to this record.
12. It is therefore concluded that the respondents violated the disclosure provisions of §§1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., by not providing the complainants with a copy of the responsive records, referenced in paragraph 9, above.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. Henceforth, the respondents shall strictly comply with the disclosure requirements of §§1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S.
2. The respondents shall forthwith provide the complainants with a copy of the records referenced in paragraph 9, above, free of charge.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of October 14, 2009.
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:
128 Bogue Road
Harwinton, CT 06791
Assessor, Town of Harwinton; and
Office of the Assessor, Town of Harwinton
C/o Michele McLaughlin
100 Bentley Drive
Harwinton, CT 06791
Acting Clerk of the Commission