January 3, 2007
FROM: Robert J. Freeman, Executive Director
The staff of the Committee on Open Government is authorized to issue advisory opinions. The ensuing staff advisory opinion is based solely upon the information presented in your correspondence.
I have received your letter in which you sought an advisory opinion concerning the obligation of the Harpursville Fire Department in relation to a certain request made under the Freedom of Information Law. Specifically, you wrote that:
“We have had several requests from an individual for information such as treasurer’s reports, minutes of meetings and bank statements which we have provided to him. The individual is now requesting copies of all the checks from 2004-2006 as well as receipts for the internet banking transfers.
“Since we have already provided the equivalent information with the bank statements (each check is listed on the bank statement as well as each internet transfer) and treasurer’s reports, must we also provide copies of each check?”
Based on a judicial decision involving similar facts, the Department would not be required to grant access to the checks if indeed the bank statements include equivalent information. In that decision, Boni, et al. v. Mills, et al. (Supreme Court, Ulster County, February 27, 2003), a school district provided 295 treasurer’s reports containing information equivalent to that contained in 2,880 pages of bank statements. The court rejected the contention that the district was required to make the bank statements available, stating that the applicant for the records “failed to specifically allege any FOIL violation which occurred when the District decided to provide her with copies of the District Treasurer’s monthly reports in lieu of the considerably more voluminous monthly bank statements which she had sought.”
Because it has already disclosed documentation containing information equivalent to that contained in the records sought, I do not believe that the Department would be required to make the latter series of records available.
I hope that I have been of assistance.