FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

 

In the Matter of a Request
    for Advisory Opinion

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)     Advisory Opinion   #31

 

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Town Clerk, Town of Oxford, Applicant

)     August 9, 1978

 

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On July 12, 1978, the Commission considered and agreed to respond to the request for an advisory opinion filed by the Town Clerk, Town of Oxford.

 

In her letter of request, the applicant notes that Conn. Gen. Stats. 7-342 states, with respect to any town board of finance, that the

 

...clerk [of the board] shall cause to be prepared and filed with the town clerk a copy of the minutes and records of each regular and special meeting held, within two weeks from the date of such meeting. (Emphasis added).

 

The applicant requests the Commission's opinion as to whether the aforesaid provision conflicts with any requirement of the Freedom of Information Act and, if so, which law controls.

 

Conn. Gen. Stats. l-19 (a) reads in pertinent part that each public 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 any political subdivision...

 

 

 

In the same regard, Conn. Gen. Stats. l-21 states that 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, excluding any Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday, and shall also be recorded in the minutes of the session at which taken, which minutes shall be available for public inspection within seven days of the session to which they refer.

 

It is a primary rule of statutory construction that statutes should be interpreted, if possible, so as to reconcile apparently inconsistent provisions in order to create one consistent body of law. State v. White, 169 Conn. 223 (1975); Spring v. Constantino, 168 Conn. 563 (1975). With this principle in mind, the Commission believes that all of the above-quoted statutes can be read consistently in furtherance of a clearly defined legislative policy.

 

It is the Commission's opinion that minutes of public agency meetings are public records within the meaning of Conn. Gen. Stats. 1-18a (d). Consequently, under 1-19(a) and 1-21, if a town board of finance has a regular office or place of business, its minutes must be kept, maintained and made available there for public inspection within seven days of the session to which they refer. In that case, a copy of the minutes must also be filed with the appropriate town clerk within two weeks from the date of the meeting in question pursuant to 7-342.

 

If, however, a town board of finance does not have a regular office of place of business, 1-19 (a) and 1-21 require that the minutes be kept, maintained and made available for public inspection in the office of the appropriate municipal clerk within seven days of the session to which they refer. Under these circumstances, it appears academic whether the clerk of the board also files an additional copy of such minutes in the same office. It is the Commission's opinion that in this event, compliance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act would fulfill the requirements of 7-342 as well, because the filing of minutes within the time limitations of 1-21 would also meet the time limitations of 7-342.

 

In view of the foregoing, the Commission sees no conflict between the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act and those of 7-342. It therefore answers the first part of the applicant's request in the negative. Since the second part of that request is premised upon an affirmative reply to the first, that part of the question becomes moot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                            By Order of the Freedom of
                                                                                            Information Commission

                                                                                           

                                                                                ________________________
                                                                                            Helen M. Loy, Chairman of
                                                                                            of the Freedom of Information
                                                                                            Commission

Date _August 9, 1978__

 

Ordered_________________

Charlene G. Arnold, Clerk