FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Katherine Newcombe,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2009-439
Mary Oliver, Chairman, Board of
Assessment Appeals, Town of
Hampton; and Board of Assessment
Appeals, Town of Hampton,
 
  Respondents December 2, 2009
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on October 29, 2009, at which time the complainant was present but the respondents failed to appear.  The administrative record of the Commission indicates that the respondents received notice of the hearing in this matter.  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.         By letter dated July 24, 2009, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to conduct its meetings in compliance with the FOI Act.  Specifically, the complainant alleged that the respondents failed to give proper notice and to file minutes of four meetings that the respondents held on March 10, 12, 14, and 17, 2009.   The complainant also alleged that the respondents’ public records are not accessible at the Hampton town clerk’s office, despite the fact that the respondents do not have a regular office or place of business.  The complainant requested the imposition of a civil penalty in this matter.

 

3.         Section 1-206(b)(1), G. S., provides in relevant part:

 

Any person denied the right to inspect or copy records under section 1-210 or wrongfully denied the right to attend any meeting of a public agency or denied any other right conferred by the Freedom of Information Act may appeal therefrom to the Freedom of Information Commission, by filing a notice of appeal with said commission.  A notice of appeal shall be filed within thirty days after such denial, except in the case of an unnoticed or secret meeting, in which case the appeal shall be filed within thirty days after the person filing the appeal receives notice in fact that such meeting was held.

 

4.      It is found that the complainant learned of the meetings described in paragraph 2, above, on July 21, 2009, when she inspected copies of notices sent to assessment appellants that the town Tax Assessor had on file in her office. 

 

5.       It is found that the complainant received notice in fact of the alleged secret or unnoticed meetings on July 21, 2009.  It is further found that the complaint in this matter was filed within thirty days after July 21, 2009.  Accordingly, it is concluded that the Commission has jurisdiction to address the complaint in this matter, pursuant to 1-206(b)(1), G. S.

 

6.      It is found that the respondents heard appeals of real estate assessments at the meetings described in paragraph 2, above.

 

7.      Section 1-225(a), G. S., provides in relevant parts that:

 

a) The meetings of all public agencies, except executive sessions, as defined in subdivision (6) of section 1-200, shall be open to the public. The votes of each member of any such public agency upon any issue before such public agency shall be reduced to writing and made available for public inspection within forty-eight hours and shall also be recorded in the minutes of the session at which taken. Within seven days of the session to which such minutes refer, such minutes shall be available for public inspection.  . . .

 

        …

 

(d) Notice of each special meeting of every public agency . . .

shall be given not less than twenty-four hours prior to the time of such meeting by filing a notice of the time and place thereof . . . in the office of the clerk of such subdivision for any public agency of a political subdivision of the state . . . .

 

8.         It is found that the respondents did not file notice of the meetings, within the meaning of 1-225(d), G. S., nor did they make votes available for public inspection or make minutes of such meetings available for public inspection, within the meaning of 1-225(a), G. S. 

 

9.        Accordingly, it is concluded that the respondents violated 1-225(a) and (d), G.S.

 

10.      With respect to the complainant’s allegation that the respondents’ public records are not accessible at the Hampton town clerk’s office, 1-210(a), G.S., provides in relevant part:

 

Each such agency shall keep and maintain all public records in its custody at its regular office or place of business in an accessible place and, if there is no such office or place of business, the public records pertaining to such agency shall be kept in the office of the clerk of the political subdivision in which such public agency is located[.]

 

11.     It is further found that the respondents’ records described in paragraph 4, above, are kept in the office of the Tax Assessor at town hall.

 

12.      It is concluded that the respondents did not violate 1-210(a), G.S.

 

13.     After consideration of the entire record in this case, the Commission declines to consider the imposition of civil penalties against the respondents.

 

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 1-225(a) and (d), G.S.

 

 

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of December 2, 2009.

 

 

____________________________

S. Wilson

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:

 

Katherine Newcombe

58 Old Kings Highway

Hampton, CT 06347

 

Mary Oliver, Chairman,

Board of Assessment Appeals,

Town of Hampton

164 Main Street

P.O. Box 143

Hampton, CT 06247

 

and

 

Board of Assessment Appeals,

Town of Hampton

164 Main Street

P.O. Box 9132

Hampton, CT 06247

 

 

____________________________

S. Wilson

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC/2009-439FD/sw/12/8/2009