FOI complaint questions North Stonington Board of Finance chairman's appointment

North Stonington — Board of Finance Chairman Dan Spring asked the board's vice chairman to run Wednesday's meeting and abstained from voting after a Freedom of Information complaint called into question the legality of his appointment to the board.

Although Spring ran for a position on the Board of Finance during the 2013 election, he was not elected. In December 2013, he was appointed to fill a vacancy on the finance board when one of the newly elected members resigned. Spring said he was appointed after the town's Democratic committee recommended him for the position.

He was appointed during a regular meeting of the board. The FOI complaint, filed by resident Brian Rathbun, took issue with the appointment because it was not during a special meeting as required by state statute.

First Selectman Nicholas Mullane said two town attorneys are currently looking into the issue. He said he would not comment until he received a final opinion from the attorneys, which he expects within the next few business days.

According to Spring, the attorneys have spoken to the secretary of state's office and determined his appointment was legal. Although it did not occur during a special meeting, the fact that he was endorsed by a town party and elected by the majority of the board mitigates the situation, said Spring.

Spring was also appointed to fill a vacancy on the Board of Finance in 2010, but that appointment appears to have been during a special meeting. Minutes on the town's website from that year do not specifically mention Spring's appointment.

Rathbun could not be reached for comment Thursday. In his FOI complaint, he also said that the documents he requested from the town clerk "show that the Board of Finance public record is incomplete and cannot be made complete."

He also alleges that the board has been "procedurally deficient in warning of special meetings to appoint new members and supplying accurate minutes of those meetings," and that as a result of the board's actions "the general public was denied the opportunity to have knowledge and understanding as to how certain individuals were appointed to the Board of Finance."

In his complaint, Rathbun did not ask for penalties against the town because "use of attorneys and their fees has been very costly to the taxpayers," but requested a ruling from the FOI commission as to the legality of Spring's position. He also asked for the board to explain the ramifications, should Spring have been illegally appointed, "in regard to motions he made, his attendance establishing a quorum and/or any vote in where he may have cast the deciding vote."

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