Attorney General: Honorable Donald E. Williams, Jr., Senate President Pro Tempore, Honorable Martin M. Looney, Senate Majority Leader, Connecticut State Senate, Formal Opinion 2009-005, Attorney General State of Connecticut

Attorney General's Opinion

Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal

June 30, 2009

 

The Honorable Donald E. Williams, Jr.

Senate President Pro Tempore

Connecticut State Senate

Hartford, CT 06106

 

The Honorable Martin M. Looney

Senate Majority Leader

Connecticut State Senate

Hartford, CT 06106

 

Dear Senators Williams and Looney:

You have requested a formal legal opinion regarding the allocation of costs associated with resident state troopers detailed, pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 29-5, to towns lacking an organized police force.  Specifically, you ask whether wages and fringe benefit costs associated with overtime worked by resident state troopers are subject to the statutory allocation, which requires that towns pay seventy per cent of those costs and the state pay thirty percent.  You have informed us that the Department of Public Safety seeks to charge towns one hundred percent for overtime and fringe benefit costs. 

It is my opinion that at the current time, towns are responsible for 70 percent of the wages and fringe benefits associated with overtime.  Both overtime wages and associated fringe benefits are “compensation . . . of the state policemen detailed to” the town for purposes of § 29-5 and are therefore subject to the statutory cost-sharing requirement. 

Pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 29-5, the Commissioner of Public Safety is authorized to appoint persons from the state police force to serve as resident state troopers in towns lacking an organized police force.  The statute provides, in pertinent part, that:

each town shall pay sixty per cent of the cost of compensation, maintenance and other expenses of the state policemen detailed to such town, and on and after July 1, 1992, each town shall pay seventy per cent of such cost and other expenses. Such town or towns and the Commissioner of Public Safety are authorized to enter into agreements and contracts for such police services, with the approval of the Attorney General, for periods not exceeding two years. The Commissioner of Public Safety shall exercise such supervision and direction over any resident policeman so appointed as he deems necessary, and each appointee shall be required to conform to the requirements of chapter 67. Each resident state policeman shall have the same powers as officers of the regular state police force and be entitled to the same rights and subject to the same rules and regulations as the Division of State Police within the Department of Public Safety.

Conn. Gen. Stat. § 29-5 (emphasis added).  Pursuant to the statute, a number of towns have entered into contracts with the Department of Public Safety for police services.

          Determining whether wages and fringe benefit costs associated with overtime worked by resident state troopers are subject to the allocation set forth in § 29-5 raises a question of statutory construction.  In construing a statute, the “fundamental objective is to ascertain and give effect to the apparent intent of the legislature.” American Promotional Events, Inc. v. Blumenthal, 285 Conn. 192, 202 (2008). In searching for the legislative intent, a court looks “first to the text of the statute itself and its relationship to other statutes.” Id. (citing Conn. Gen. Stat. § 1-2z).  “[T]he legislature is always presumed to have created a harmonious and consistent body of law . . . Accordingly, in determining the meaning of a statute . . . we look not only at the provision at issue, but also to the broader statutory scheme to ensure the coherency of our construction.”  Wiseman v. Armstrong, 269 Conn. 802, 814 (2004) (quotation marks omitted).

          Although § 29-5 does not define the term “compensation,” it expressly references Chapter 67 of the Connecticut General Statutes, the State Personnel Act, which defines “compensation” to “mean the salary, wages, benefits and other forms of valuable consideration earned by and provided to an employee in remuneration for services rendered.”  Conn. Gen. Stat. § 5-196(7).  That definition is highly instructive and clearly encompasses all overtime pay and any associated fringe benefits.  See, e.g., Wiseman, 269 Conn. at 814 (looking to overall statutory scheme in assessing legislative intent).

 

That conclusion is consistent with this office’s prior opinion—subsequently followed by the Superior Court—concluding that housing benefits are compensation for purposes of the State Personnel Act.  See AG Op. #86-074 (Oct. 2, 1986) (concluding that “housing benefits to employees come within the meaning of compensation plans” under statute); see also Connecticut v. Employees’ Review Board, 1992 Conn. Super. LEXIS 1586, at *15-16 (May 26, 1992) (Schaller, J.) (following Attorney General’s opinion and concluding that housing benefits come within statutory definition of compensation); see generally Office of Legislative Research Op. #92-R-1070 (“Towns are required to pay 70% . . . of the cost of employing a resident trooper.  This cost includes salary, fringe benefits and a police vehicle.”).  It is also consistent with this office’s conclusion—based on the plain meaning of the term “compensation” and court decisions interpreting the term—that “[f]ringe benefits . . . are valuable perquisites of any office, and are as much a part of the compensations of an office as a weekly paycheck.”  1981 Conn. AG LEXIS 25, at *3-4 (March 3, 1981) (concluding, in the context of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 10-22, “that the word ‘compensation’ is broad enough to encompass the conferral of anything of value upon an officer or employee”).

          Thus, towns are not responsible for 100 percent of the overtime wages and fringe benefits of resident state troopers. Section 29-5 requires that towns pay seventy percent of the wages and fringe benefits associated with any overtime worked by resident state troopers and that the state pay the remaining thirty percent.  I hope that is helpful and I would be pleased to address any additional questions.

 

Very truly yours,

 

 

RICHARD BLUMENTHAL

ATTORNEY GENERAL      

 


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