FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
John Thomas Barney,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2009-661

First Selectman, Town of Simsbury;

and Town of Simsbury,  

  Respondents August 11, 2010
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on February 23, 2010, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.  For purposes of hearing, the matter was consolidated with the following seven cases: Docket #FIC 2009-554; John Thomas Barney v. First Selectman, Town of Simsbury; and Town of Simsbury; Docket #FIC 2009-555; John Thomas Barney v. First Selectman, Town of Simsbury; and Town of Simsbury; Docket #FIC 2009-608; John Thomas Barney v. First Selectman, Town of Simsbury; and Town of Simsbury; Docket #FIC 2009-660; John Thomas Barney v. First Selectman, Town of Simsbury; and Town of Simsbury; Docket #FIC 2009-556; Patrick Vincent McCue v. First Selectman, Town of Simsbury; and Town of Simsbury; Docket #FIC 2009-606; Patrick Vincent McCue v. First Selectman, Town of Simsbury; and Town of Simsbury; and Docket #FIC 2009-662; Patrick Vincent McCue v. First Selectman, Town of Simsbury; and Town of Simsbury.

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 September 28, 2009, the complainant made a request to the respondents for copies of the following records:

 

copies of any and all agreements, contracts and documents the Town has – that [would] make ‘MCCUE PATRICK VINCENT AND/OR CHRISTINA EDITH 67 LAUREL LANE LN SIMSBURY CT 06070-1517’ Liable for the Real Estate Tax Bill 2009 for 69 Laurel Lane.

 

(Emphasis in original).

3.  It is found that, by letter dated October 6, 2009, the respondents acknowledged the complainant’s request for records.   It is further found that in this correspondence the respondents also informed the complainant that, while the FOI Act did not require the respondents or their staff to perform research in order to respond to a request, the complainant was “invited and encouraged to come to the Town Offices during normal business hours to search for documents.” 

 

4.  By letter of complaint dated October 29, 2009 and filed November 2, 2009, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to respond to his request for records. 

 

5.  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.

 

6.  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.

 

7.  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.

 

8.  It is found that, to the extent that the respondents maintain the records described in paragraph 2, above, the records are “public records” and must be disclosed in accordance with 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., unless they are exempt from disclosure.

 

9. With respect to the records requested by the complainant as described in paragraph 2, above, it is found that such request requires the respondents to exercise discretion in determining what records “would make” the two particular individuals, whose names are spelled in a particular format, “liable” for the 2009 real estate tax bill for 69 Laurel Lane.  The complainant further testified that he was looking for the respondents to provide only those records to him that would “prove” that the individuals, whose names are spelled in particular manner, are liable for a particular tax bill.   It is concluded that the FOI Act does not require that a public agency exercise such discretion in responding to freedom of information requests.  See Wildin v. Freedom of Information Commission, 56 Conn. App. 683, 746 A.2d 175 (1999) (analysis is a component of research). 

 

10. Nevertheless, it is found that the respondents testified that they have no records, other than the Real Estate Tax Bill for 2009 and Assessor’s Field Card, which are already in the possession of the complainant, that are responsive to the request for records in paragraph 2, above.  

 

11. Based upon the foregoing, it is concluded that the respondents did not violate the disclosure provisions of the FOI Act.

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

1.  The complaint is dismissed.

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of August 11, 2010.

 

 

__________________________

Cynthia A. Cannata

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 Thomas Barney

P.O. Box 34

Tariffville, CT  06081

 

First Selectman, Town of Simsbury; and

Town of Simsbury

c/o Robert M. DeCrescenzo, Esq.

Updike, Kelly & Spellacy, PC

P.O. Box 231277

One State Street

Hartford, CT  06123-1277

 

 

 

____________________________

Cynthia A. Cannata

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

 

FIC/2009-661FD/cac/8/16/2010