A Boylston resident is suing the town of Boylston, stating the town has denied to give her copies of documents she requested through the state’s Freedom of Information Law.

In her court filing, Chris Soderlund states she requested records concerning the town’s spending in its highway and general accounts in 2017. Through three requests, she has not received the information she wants, according to the court filing.

The case will be argued in state Supreme Court in Oswego Sept. 6.

Boylston Supervisor Ann Stacy and a town lawyer did not respond to email and phone requests for comment.

Soderlund’s lawyer, Cameron J. Macdonald, with the Government Justice Center in Albany, said Soderlund wanted the records to be from the checkbook registers of the accounts. Town officials provided records, but they were not the records Soderlund wanted.

He said the town “refused to take the minimal steps required to generate a checkbook register report from its accounting software, suggesting instead that (Soderlund) must glean the information from records she did not request.”

Soderlund went on to make a second request for the records, asking for the reports to be generated from the town’s accounting software (QuickBooks). Macdonald said the town denied the second request stating Soderlund did not pay for the records they had already made for her — which were the records she had not requested and had not agreed to be copied by the town.

“The town then denied a third FOIL request for records on the grounds (Soderlund) had not paid for records she never agreed to have copied,” Macdonald said.

Then in a good faith gesture, Macdonald said Soderlund paid for the records she had not requested at a cost of $13.50 in hopes of getting the records she did request. But then, Macdonald said the town sent her records from 2018, not 2017 as she had requested.

“The town has refused to meet its obligations under FOIL despite (Soderlund’s) good faith efforts to be accommodating,” Macdonald said.

According to the court papers, the first FOIL request by Soderlund was made in July 2018. The second was made in August 2018. Soderlund appealed the denials in September 2018. In October 2018, FOIL appeals officer and town Supervisor Ann Stacy said the town would not prcoess Soderlund’s FOIL requests because she didn’t pay for the earlier unwanted requests.

In January 2019, Soderlund paid Boylston the $13.50 and her lawyer provided the town with step-by-step instructions on how to generate the check register report from the QuickBooks software. On Feb. 2, 2019, the town again denied Soderlund’s Freedom of Information Law request.

Two more requests and/or appeals were made to the town for the information and the court papers state the town never responded.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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(4) comments

BoylstonBoy

It will be interesting to watch this play out. There are some things that are being assumed that may or may not be true. Does the town truly use quick-books for that part of their record keeping? Does the law require them to generate document that does not already exist? Or does the law say that the pre-existing documents that had the equivalent information on them satisfy the towns obligation. In the end, what will this cost the tax payers in the town?

JFolino

I use Quickbooks software every day. Producing a check register is not complicated. Perhaps her next request should be to the New York State audit and control board.

elderberry

Raises two questions:

What is she looking for?

Is the Town hiding something, or unable to produce the records (even with instructions)?

BoylstonBoy

Yes, what is she looking for? Is she active in local politics? Does she attend town meetings? Does she have reliable information that would lead her to suspect a problem with the checking account? Surely it couldn't be that F.O.I.L. requests could be used as by a spiteful person as a form of harassment.

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