In the Matter of a Request
    for Advisory Opinion





)     Advisory Opinion   #3



Killingworth Board of Finance

)     December 10, 1975








On November 21, 1975, the Commission considered and agreed to respond to a request for an advisory opinion from the Killingworth Board of Finance submitted in its behalf by its Chairman.


By its letter the applicant called to the attention of the Commission the following facts:


1.  Under Section 7‑344 the General Assembly provides that the Board of Finance shall hold a public meeting prior to the annual town meeting. At the board's public meeting the itemized estimates of the expenditures of the town for the ensuing year must be presented.


At that public meeting all persons are heard in regard to appropriations which they desire that the Board should recommend or reject. The statute then provides that after such public hearing the Board of Finance shall hold an executive session at which it must consider the estimates so presented and any other matter brought to its attention. Thereafter, the Board is required to publish various itemized statements and estimates of receipts and expenditures and project revenues. The applicant refers to Section l(e) of Public Act 75‑342 and inquires whether the limitation of the purposes for which a public agency may convene in executive session limits its compliance with Section 7‑344, of the General Statutes.


The applicant is advised that it must comply with Section 7‑344 for the reason that it is a statute of specific application, while Section l(e) is a statute of general application.


2.  The applicant then refers to Section 7‑342, of the General Statutes, which provides for the election of officers of the Board of Finance. The language used by the General Assembly is, "such board shall choose one of its members to be chairman thereof and shall choose a clerk." The applicant then refers to Section 6 of Public Act 75‑342, which provides that, "the votes of each member of any such public agency upon any issue before such agency shall be reduced to writing. . ." The ballots of members in choosing a Chairman are not identical with a vote on an issue. For this reason, it is not necessary under Section 6 of the Act to record the individual choices of the respective members of the Board of Finance in choosing the Chairman.


The reason for this conclusion is that Section 7‑342 distinguishes between the act of choosing the Chairman and Clerk and the vote of the Board on an appropriation, wherein the same terminology as is found in Section 6 is differently employed by the legislature.


3.  This Commission notes in passing that the choosing of a Chairman and Clerk or any other officers is not a complicated or sensitive issue that for one instant warrants serious discussion of the need for such secrecy as would be achieved in either an unrecorded vote or a secret ballot, regardless of the distinction on which the Commission has arrived at the above‑stated conclusion. For this reason, although this advisory opinion will permit the election of officers to proceed without the recorded ballot of the Board members, this Commission recommends that the Board of Finance proceed by open ballot and that it record the members' respective ballots for officers in the minutes of that public agency.



                                                                                            By Order of the Freedom of
                                                                                            Information Commission


                                                                                            Herbert Brucker, Chairman of
                                                                                            of the Freedom of Information

Date  ___________________



                                                                                                         Louis J. Tapogna, Clerk