FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

Gary Pawlik,

 
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2010-138

Tax Assessor, Town of Simsbury;

and Town of Simsbury,   

 
  Respondents November 17, 2010
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on August 4, 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 Docket #FIC 2010-139; Gary Pawlik v. Tax Collector, 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 February 8, 2010, the complainant made a request to the respondent tax assessor asking for the following: “copies of any and all documents, agreements, contracts and declarations which generates or creates [sic] this assessment making G&R Automotive and/or GARY PAWLIK liable for personal property taxes at 9D Herman Drive, Simsbury, Conn. 06070.”  [Capitalization in original].

 

3.  By letter of complaint dated February 26, 2010 and filed March 2, 2010, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the FOI Act by failing to respond to his 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, 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.

 

8. At the contested case hearing, the complainant testified that he was seeking those records in the respondent tax assessor’s office that prove or otherwise substantiate that the complainant or a particular business must pay taxes to the Town of Simsbury.  It is further found that the crux of the complainant’s issue with the respondents is the form in which his tax bill and other town correspondence are addressed to him—that is, the order or the capitalization of his name along with the reference to G&R Automotive.  It appears that the complainant is seeking records showing the legal authority upon which the respondents rely to be able to address the complainant and G&R Automotive in written documents in the format that they use; the legal authority upon which the respondents rely to be able to “fill-in” forms and provide assessment figures on such forms on the complainant’s behalf; and, ultimately, the legal authority upon which the respondents rely to be able to tax the complainant if the respondents address the complainant or G&R Automotive in a particular manner. 

 

9.  It is concluded that the FOI Act does not require that a public agency conduct legal research 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 which is not required by the FOI Act). 

 

10. It is further concluded that the respondents did not violate the disclosure provisions of the FOI Act, as alleged in the complaint.

 

11. Nonetheless, it is found that the respondents provided the complainant with all records that they maintain that concern or reference the complainant or G&R Automotive in any manner. 

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 November 17, 2010.

 

 

____________________________

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:

 

Gary Pawlik

487 Bushy Hill Road

Simsbury, CT 06070


Tax Assessor, Town of Simsbury;

and Town of Simsbury

C/o Robert M. DeCrescenzo, Esq.

Updike, Kelly & Spellacy, P.C.

100 Pearl Street

P.O. Box 231277

Hartford, CT 06123

 

 

 

____________________________

S. Wilson

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC/2010-138FD/sw/11/22/2010