Attorney General: Kevin P. Johnston and Robert G. Jaekle, Auditors of Public Accounts, 1998-008 Formal Opinion, Attorney General of Connecticut

Attorney General's Opinion

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal

July 1, 1998

Kevin P. Johnston
Robert G. Jaekle
Auditors of Public Accounts
State Capitol
Hartford, CT 06106-1559

Dear Mr. Johnston and Mr. Jaekle:

You have asked whether the Southeastern Connecticut Regional Resource Recovery Authority (SCRRRA) is subject to your auditing authority as set forth in Conn. Gen. Stat.  2-90. For the reasons stated in this letter, we conclude that SCRRRA is not subject to audit pursuant to  2-90, but rather is subject to audit under the Municipal Auditing Act. See Conn. Gen. Stat.  7-392.

Conn. Gen. Stat.  2-90 sets forth the duties of the Auditors of Public Accounts and requires you to audit "the books and accounts of . . . all public and quasi-public bodies, politic and corporate, created by public or special act of the general assembly and not required to be audited or subject to reporting requirements . . ." of the Municipal Auditing Act. (Emphasis added.)

SCRRRA is a regional resource recovery authority established pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat.  7-273aa et. seq. Pursuant to  7-273aa, municipalities may establish municipal or regional resource recovery authorities. A regional authority is created when two or more municipalities form a regional entity to pursue a joint purpose of solid waste management. Regional and municipal authorities have the powers and duties set forth in Chapters 446d and 446e of the General Statutes, which relate to solid waste management. Conn. Gen. Stat.  7-273aa(d) and (e).

There is no question that SCRRRA as a regional authority is a "public body politic and corporate of the state," and a "political subdivision of the state . . .". Conn. Gen. Stat.  7-273aa(e). The controlling issue with respect to your question, therefore, is whether SCRRRA is subject to audit under the Municipal Auditing Act. We conclude that it is.

Under the Municipal Auditing Act, municipalities and "audited agencies" are required to have their accounts audited at least once annually by an independent auditor. Conn. Gen. Stat.  7-392. Conn. Gen. Stat.  7-391 defines the word "municipality" as including "each town, consolidated town and city, consolidated town and borough." Obviously, SCRRRA is not a municipality.

The term "audited agency" is defined in the Municipal Auditing Act to include "each district, as defined in  7-324, or other municipal utility, the Metropolitan District of Hartford County, each regional planning agency, any other political subdivision of similar character which is created and any other agency created or designated by a municipality whose annual receipts from all sources exceed two hundred thousand dollars." Conn. Gen. Stat.  7-391. Conn. Gen. Stat.  7-324 defines "district" as "any fire district, sewer district, fire and sewer district, lighting district, village, beach or improvement association and any other district or association, except a school district, wholly within a town and having the power to make appropriations or to levy taxes." "Other municipal utility" refers to entities like districts and limits them to those wholly within a municipality. Thus "district" and "other municipal utility" refer to entities like utilities which are wholly within a municipality. SCRRRA is a regional entity and is not therefore a "district", or "other municipal utility."

Finally, SCRRRA is not a "regional planning agency," established pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat.  8-31a et. seq., to allow two or more municipalities in a region to work together to create a plan of development governing land use and other zoning matters.1 Thus, the issue is whether SCRRRA falls within the catchall phrase "any other political subdivision of similar character which is created and any other agency created or designated by a municipality to act for such municipality whose annual receipts from all sources exceed two hundred thousand dollars." We believe that SCRRRA falls within this catchall phrase.

First, pursuant to  7-273aa(e), a regional authority is a political subdivision of the state. It is "of similar character to" to a regional planning agency because both types of entities represent the coming together of two or more municipalities for a joint regional purpose. Both are created by the passage of an ordinance by the participating towns' legislative bodies, which ordinance adopts the various statutory requirements.2 Second, a regional authority like SCRRRA is "created or designated by a municipality to act for such municipality." Section 22a-207(13) of Chapter 466d defines "regional authority" as "the administrative body delegated the responsibility of solid waste management for two or more municipalities which have joined together by creating a district or signing an interlocal agreement or signing a mutual contract for a definitive period of time."3 Thus, consistent with the language of the catchall phrase, the regional authority is designated by each member municipality to act for such municipality for the purpose of solid waste management. These facts lead us to the conclusion that SCRRRA is a political subdivision of the state "of similar character" to those set forth in  7-324 and has been designated to act by a municipality. As a result, we conclude that the legislature intended that municipal resource recovery authorities fall within the Municipal Auditing Act if they have annual receipts greater than two hundred thousand dollars.4

To summarize, we believe that SCRRRA is subject to the Municipal Auditing Act as it is an "audited agency" within the meaning of C.G.S.  7-391. Accordingly, SCRRRA is not subject to the auditing provisions of  2-90.

We trust that this letter answers your concerns.

Very truly yours,

RICHARD BLUMENTHAL
ATTORNEY GENERAL

Eliot d. Prescott
Assistant attorney General

RB:EDP:taa


Footnote:

1 SCRRRA is obviously not the Metropolitan District of Hartford County.

2 Our conclusion is buttressed by the fact that SCRRRA was created by municipalities rather than by a public act of the general assembly. While the legislature has authorized municipalities to create such authorities, it is the ordinances of the municipalities that create the regional authority. Thus, SCRRRA may not meet the first prong of  2-90, that is, a quasi-public body created by a public act of the legislature.

3 Similarly, Conn. Gen. Stat.  22a-260(18) defines "regional authority" to mean "the administrative body delegated the responsibility for solid waste management in a region."

4 For the purposes of this letter, we have assumed that SCRRRA has annual receipts greater than two hundred thousand dollars.


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