Attorney General: The Honorable Nancy Wyman, Comptroller, 1995-019 Formal Opinion, Attorney General of Connecticut

Attorney General's Opinion

Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal

June 14, 1995

The Honorable Nancy Wyman
Comptroller
55 Elm Street
Hartford, Connecticut 06106

Dear Ms. Wyman:

This is in response to your predecessor, William E. Curry's request for an opinion inquiring whether the Departments of Mental Health, Mental Retardation, and Children and Family Services may operate trustee accounts for their outpatient clients as activity funds pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 4-52, et seq. Activity funds are sums administered by a state (i.e., public) educational, welfare or medical institution for use in connection with recreational and social activities and the like. They function as an integral part of the institution's efforts to promote the well-being of its employees, students and/or patients. For the following reasons it is our opinion that the afore-mentioned Departments may not operate trustee accounts as activity funds.

Conn. Gen. Stat. 4-53 provides for the establishment of "activity funds" as follows:

The administrative head of any such institution may, with the approval of the comptroller and in accordance with procedures prescribed by the comptroller, establish one or more activity funds....

Conn. Gen. Stat. 4-52, in turn, defines "activity fund" to mean:

[A]ny fund operated in any state educational, welfare or medical institution for the benefit of the employees or students of such institutions, including so-called patients' funds in state hospitals, the revenue of which is derived from the operation of canteens, vending machines, dramatics, recitals, student activity fees, membership fees, deposits or any other legal source compatible with the good government of such institutions.

As this Office previously opined, activity funds, including patients' funds, are intended for the general, institution-wide benefit of all employees, students and/or patients, and not for specific sub-groups or individuals within the institution. See Op. Atty. Gen. 91-008 (March 1, 1991). In the March 1, 1991 Opinion, we determined that the University of Connecticut Health Center's Academic Enhancement Fund, which benefited certain groups of faculty members, could not constitute an activity fund because it did not benefit the Health Center's employees, students or faculty as a whole. Similarly, nothing in Conn. Gen. Stat. 4-52, et seq., or the corresponding legislative history suggests that activity funds can include private accounts owned by individual patients. Such accounts are not only established for specific individuals, rather than for the benefit of the general institution population, but are funded by the individuals themselves, rather than by the types of sources contemplated in Conn. Gen. Stat. 4-52. Thus, these private trustee accounts cannot constitute activity funds, and the Departments of Mental Health, Mental Retardation, and Children and Family Services cannot operate them on behalf of their outpatient clients under Conn. Gen. Stat. 4-52, et seq.

Very truly yours,

Richard Blumenthal
Attorney General

Christopher L. Levesque
Assistant Attorney General

RB/CLL/rj


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