LoPRESTO v. STATE EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT COMM.

12483

34 Conn. App. 510 (1994) | Cited 1 time | Connecticut Appellate Court | May 24, 1994

The defendant state employees retirementcommission appeals from the judgment of the trialcourt reversing the commission's declaratory ruling.On appeal, the commission claims that the trial courtimproperly concluded that the plaintiff, Donald F.LoPresto, was entitled to include five years of municipalservice credit in the calculation of his hazardousduty retirement benefit. We agree and reverse thejudgment of the trial court.

The following facts are undisputed. The plaintiff isa retired state police trooper. He retired effectiveMarch 1, 1992, under the 1991-1992 early retirementincentive program. General Statutes 5-1731 providesthe guidelines for retirement benefits for state employeeswith hazardous duty service. The plaintiff had completedmore than twenty years of hazardous dutyservice. Thus, his retirement benefits were calculatedpursuant to General Statutes 5-173. Prior to workingas a state trooper, the plaintiff was employed asa police officer by the town of Stonington for five years.Before retiring, the plaintiff applied to purchase municipalservice credit pursuant to General Statutes 5-192b(b)for those five years of employment as a Stonington

[34 Conn. App. 512]

     police officer. Section 5-192b2 makes provision formembers of the state employees retirement system to

[34 Conn. App. 513]

     obtain credit for previous membership in a municipalretirement system.

The plaintiff requested credit for his prior municipalservice in the calculation of his hazardous dutyretirement benefit. The commission denied the plaintiff'srequest. In response, the plaintiff petitioned thecommission for a declaratory ruling. The commissionruled: "The Petitioner, a Tier I member of the ConnecticutState Employees Retirement System, is notentitled to include five years of municipal service creditpurchased in accordance with the provisions of ConnecticutGeneral Statutes, Section 5-192b (b) in the calculationof his hazardous duty retirement benefit underConnecticut General Statutes, Section 5-173." Theplaintiff appealed the commission's declaratory ruling.The trial court ruled in favor of the plaintiff; the commissionin turn appealed to this court.

The two statutes relevant to this appeal are GeneralStatutes 5-173 and 5-192b (b). The pertinent languageof 5-173 (b) provides: "On or after October 1,1982, each such person shall receive a monthly retirementincome equal to one-twelfth of (1) fifty per centof his base salary . . . for such twenty years of service,plus (2) two per cent of his base salary for eachyear, taken to completed months, of Connecticut stateservice in excess of twenty years . . . ." (Emphasisadded.) The relevant language of General Statutes5-192b (b) provides: "Such municipal service shall be

[34 Conn. App. 514]

     considered to be active state service for the purposesof this chapter." (Emphasis added.) We must determinewhether a hazardous duty employee may include priormunicipal service deemed "state service" under5-192b (b) as "Connecticut state service" in the calculationof his hazardous duty retirement benefits pursuantto General Statutes 5-173 (b).

The trial court concluded that the phrase "Connecticutstate service" in 5-173 included "state service"as contained in 5-192b (b). The trial court found thatthe word "`Connecticut' does not narrow or restrictthe meaning of the term in 5-173 so as to excludemunicipal service" and, thus, "[i]t necessarily includesmunicipal service in accordance with 5-192b (b)." Thetrial court reasoned that, because the language of5-192b provides that "municipal service shall be consideredto be active state service for purposes of thischapter" and "this chapter" includes 5-173, any otherinterpretation would "contradict the plain language ofthe statutes in question." We do not agree with thereasoning of the trial court.

"`The standard of judicial review of administrativeagency rulings is well established. Lieberman v. StateBoard of Labor Relations, 216 Conn. 253, 261,579 A.2d 505 (1990); Board of Education v. State EmployeesRetirement Commission, 210 Conn. 531, 540,556 A.2d 572 (1989).' Tomlinson v. Board of Education,226 Conn. 704, 712, 629 A.2d 333 (1993). General Statutes4-183 (j) `permits modification or reversal of anagency's decision if substantial rights of the personappealing have been prejudiced because the administrativefindings, inferences, conclusions, or decisions are: (1)[i]n violation of constitutional or statutory provisions;(2) in excess of the statutory authority of theagency; (3) made upon unlawful procedure; (4) affectedby other error of law; (5) clearly erroneous in view ofthe reliable, probative, and substantial evidence on the

[34 Conn. App. 515]

     whole record; or (6) arbitrary or capricious or characterizedby abuse of discretion or clearly unwarranted exerciseof discretion. . . . [T]he [reviewing] court may notretry the case or substitute its judgment for that ofthe agency on the weight of the evidence or questionsof fact. . . . Rather, an agency's factual and discretionarydeterminations are to be accordedconsiderable weight by the courts>. . . ." (Citationsomitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) Local 1183of Council No. 4 v. State Board of Labor Relations,33 Conn. App. 541, 546-47, 636 A.2d 1366 (1994).

"On the other hand, it is the function of the courts>to expound and apply governing principles of law.N.L.R.B. v. Brown, 380 U.S. 278, 291, 85 S.Ct. 980,13 L.Ed.2d 839 (1965); International Brotherhood ofElectrical Workers v. N.L.R.B., 487 F.2d 1143,1170-71 (D.C. Cir. 1973), aff'd sub nom. Florida Power& Light Co. v. International Brotherhood of ElectricalWorkers, 417 U.S. 790, 94 S.Ct. 2737, 41 L.Ed.2d477 (1974); Connecticut Hospital Assn., Inc. v. Commissionon Hospitals & Health Care, [200 Conn. 133,140, 509 A.2d 1050 (1986)]; Real Estate Listing Service,Inc. v. Real Estate Commission, 179 Conn. 128,138-39, 425 A.2d 581 (1979). State Medical Society v.Board of Examiners in Podiatry, [208 Conn. 709,717-18, 546 A.2d 830 (1988)]." (Internal quotationmarks omitted.) Lieberman v. Board of Labor Relations,supra, 216 Conn. 262-63.

The answer to the question presented in thisappeal - whether a hazardous duty employee mayinclude prior municipal service deemed "state service"under 5-192b (b) as "Connecticut state service" in thecalculation of his hazardous duty retirement benefitspursuant to 5-173 (b) - "turns upon the interpretationof the interrelationship of the various state statutes.This is purely a question of law, and, therefore, invokesa broader standard of review than is ordinarily involved

[34 Conn. App. 516]

     in deciding whether, in light of the evidence, the agencyhas acted unreasonably, arbitrarily, illegally or in abuseof its discretion. See [State Medical Society v. Boardof Examiners in Podiatry, supra, 208 Conn. 718];Robinson v. Unemployment Security Board of Review,181 Conn. 1, 5-6, 434 A.2d 293 (1980)." Lieberman v.Board of Labor Relations, supra, 216 Conn. 263.

"Although the interpretation of statutes is ultimatelya question of law; Connecticut Hospital Assn., Inc. v.Commission on Hospitals & Health Care, 200 Conn. 133,140, 509 A.2d 1050 (1986); it is the well establishedpractice of this court to `accord great deference to theconstruction given [a] statute by the agency chargedwith its enforcement.' Corey v. Avco-Lycoming Division,163 Conn. 309, 326, 307 A.2d 155 (1972)(Loiselle, J., concurring), cert. denied, 409 U.S. 1116,93 S.Ct. 903, 34 L.Ed.2d 699 (1973); accord, Fellinv. Administrator, 196 Conn. 440, 447, 493 A.2d 174(1985); Board of Education v. Connecticut State Boardof Labor Relations, 190 Conn. 235, 241, 460 A.2d 1255(1983); Chamber of Commerce of Greater Waterbury,Inc. v. Lanese., 184 Conn. 326, 331, 439 A.2d 1043(1981); Connecticut State Board of Labor Relations v.Board of Education, 177 Conn. 68, 74, 411 A.2d 28(1979); Connecticut Light & Power Co. v. Public UtilitiesControl Authority, 176 Conn. 191, 198,405 A.2d 638 (1978); Anderson v. Ludgin, 175 Conn. 545, 555,400 A.2d 712 (1978)." Griffin Hospital v. Commissionon Hospitals & Health Care, 200 Conn. 489, 496-97,512 A.2d 199 (1986).

General Statutes 5-155a (c) charges the commissionwith the duty to administer the Connecticut stateemployees retirement system. Since 5-173 and5-192b are both a part of the Connecticut state employeesretirement system, we accord great deference tothe commission's interpretation of these statutes. Thecommission interprets the word "Connecticut" in

[34 Conn. App. 517]

     5-173 to limit the state service for which one mayreceive credit for hazardous duty retirement benefitsto actual state service and not municipal service consideredto be state service by 5-192b(b).

"To determine the collectively expressed legislativeintent, we look first to the language of the statute itself.If that language is plain and unambiguous, we go nofurther. University of Connecticut v. Freedom of InformationCommission, 217 Conn. 322, 328, 585 A.2d 690(1991). If, however, the statute is ambiguous, e.g.,either opaque or susceptible to alternative conflictinginterpretations, we will seek guidance from `extrinsicaids,' e.g., the legislative history. Shelby Mutual Ins.Co. v. Della Ghelfa, 200 Conn. 630, 637-38,513 A.2d 52 (1986); State v. Ellis, 197 Conn. 436, 445,497 A.2d 974 (1985). If the legislative history and purpose arealso ambiguous, we may resort to `intrinsic aids,' thetechnical rules of statutory construction. Farms CountryClub, Inc. v. Carini, 172 Conn. 439, 443,374 A.2d 1094 (1977); see also Citizens to Preserve Overton Park,Inc. v. Volpe, 401 U.S. 402, 412 n. 29, 91 S.Ct. 814,28 L.Ed.2d 136 (1971); 2A J. Sutherland, StatutoryConstruction (4th Ed. Sands) § 48.01. In applying theseprinciples, we follow the `golden rule of statutory interpretation';2A J. Sutherland, supra, 45.12, p. 54; thatthe legislature is presumed to have intended a reasonable,just and constitutional result. See Board of Educationv. State Board of Labor Relations, 217 Conn. 110,126, 584 A.2d 1172 (1991); Gentry v. Norwalk,196 Conn. 596, 606, 494 A.2d 1206 (1985); Bridgeport v.Stratford, 142 Conn. 634, 644, 116 A.2d 508 (1955);Camp v. Rogers, 44 Conn. 291, 298 (1877); see also 2AJ. Sutherland, supra, 45.11, 45.12." Sanzone v.Board of Police Commissioners, 219 Conn. 179, 187,592 A.2d 912 (1991).

It is not clear from the plain language of either5-173 or 5-192b whether "Connecticut state service"

[34 Conn. App. 518]

     as used in 5-173 includes "state service" as usedin 5-192b(b). In addition, our search of the legislativehistory of 5-173 does not shed any light on thelegislature's purpose for including the word "Connecticut"preceding "state service." We, therefore, turnto well established maxims of statutory construction.

"`In construing a statute, this court seeks to ascertainthe intent of the legislature as it is expressedthrough the words actually used.' State v. Grant,176 Conn. 17, 20, 404 A.2d 873 (1978)." State v. Anderson,227 Conn. 518, 527-28, 631 A.2d 1149 (1993). The trialcourt's conclusion that "Connecticut state service" isthe same as "state service" renders the word "Connecticut"meaningless. "[N]o part of a legislative enactmentis to be treated as insignificant or unnecessary,and there is a presumption of purpose behind every sentence,clause or phrase . . . and no word in a statuteis to be treated as superfluous. Peck v. Jacquemin,196 Conn. 53, 66, 491 A.2d 1043 (1985)." (Citations omitted;internal quotation marks omitted.) Id. We conclude,therefore, that the word "Connecticut" must setsome limitation or restraint on the words "stateservice."

Further support for this conclusion is found byreviewing the statutory sections that constitute theConnecticut state employees retirement system. GeneralStatutes 5-154 et seq. The phrase "state service"is found throughout these sections.3 We conclude,therefore, that when the legislature attached the word"Connecticut" to the phrase "state service" in 5-173it intended something different from the phrase "stateservice" without "Connecticut" attached to it as foundthroughout the statutory scheme.

[34 Conn. App. 519]

The legislative history of 5-192b reveals the legislature'spurpose in enacting subsections (b) and (c).Before 1984, the statute consisted of only subsection(a). In 1984, the legislature amended the statuteto add subsections (b) and (c).4 The purpose of theamendment was to resolve the inequities created bysubsection (a), which did not permit certain membersof the state employees retirement system (SERS), whowere previously members of a municipal employeesretirement system (MERS), to obtain retirement creditfor that service. 27 H.R. Proc., Pt. 19, 1984 Sess.,pp. 6904-906; 27 S. Proc., Pt. 6, 1984 Sess., p. 2228.Subsection (a) allows a state employee, who is a memberof SERS, who had prior service in a municipalitythat had joined MERS and who did not withdraw hisor her retirement contributions, to obtain credit forthose contributions for the purpose of retirement benefits.This, however, left members of SERS who previouslyhad been employed by municipalities that had notjoined MERS and those who had withdrawn theirretirement contributions unable to obtain credit fortheir prior municipal service. The amendment addingsubsections (b) and (c) remedied this inequity. Subsection(b) provides that members of SERS who previouslyhad been municipal employees whose municipality hadjoined MERS and who withdrew their retirement contributionsfrom the municipal retirement fund whenthey left municipal service may obtain credit for thosecontributions by making certain payments into theSERS fund. Subsection (c) provides that members ofSERS who had previously been municipal employeesand had prior service in a municipality that had notjoined MERS may also obtain credit for that priormunicipal service by certain payments of transfers.

[34 Conn. App. 520]

The trial court's interpretation of 5-192b, for thepurposes of hazardous duty retirement benefits, recreatesthe same type of inequity that the 1984 amendmentwas designed to remedy. The language convertingmunicipal service to state service is found only in subsection(b). Thus, only hazardous duty employees whopreviously had worked for a municipality that hadjoined MERS and who had withdrawn their retirementcontributions when they left municipal service wouldbe entitled to credit for their previous municipal service.Hazardous duty employees who fall under subsection(a) or (c) would not be entitled to a credit for theirprior municipal service because those subsections donot contain the language converting municipal serviceto state service. This result directly contradicts thelegislature's intent in amending 5-192b. We cannotpresume that the legislature intended to create sucha bizarre result. See DeMilo v. West Haven, 189 Conn. 671,679, 458 A.2d 362 (1983), and cases cited therein.

Taking together our deference to the commission'sinterpretation of the statutes, the opinion of the trialcourt rendering the word "Connecticut" meaningless,and the fact that the trial court's interpretation is notonly contrary to the legislature's intent but also createsa bizarre result, we conclude that the word "Connecticut"in 5-173 places a limitation on the phrase"state service." We hold, therefore, that "Connecticutstate service" as used in 5-173 is limited to actualservice for the state of Connecticut and does not includeprior municipal service considered state service pursuantto 5-192b (b).

The judgment is reversed and the case is remandedwith direction to render judgment denying the plaintiff'sappeal.

In this opinion the other judges concurred.

1. General Statutes 5-173 provides in pertinent part: "(a) Astate policeman in the active service of the division of statepolice within the department of public safety . . . who has reachedhis forty-seventh birthday and completed at least twenty years ofhazardous duty service for the state . . . shall be retired on hisown application or on the application of the commissioner of publicsafety or the commissioner of correction, as the case may be. "(b) On or after October 1, 1982, each such person shallreceive a monthly retirement income equal to one-twelfth of(1) fifty per cent of his base salary, as defined in subsection(b) of section 5-162, for such twenty years of service, plus(2) two per cent of his base salary for each year, taken tocompleted months, of Connecticut state service in excess oftwenty years . . . .

2. General Statutes 5-192b provides: "(a) Any person whobecame a member of the state employees retirement system and whopreviously was a member of the Connecticut municipal employees'retirement system shall receive credit for the purpose of retirementunder the provisions of this chapter for the period of his servicewith such municipality, provided there shall be transferred to thestate employees retirement fund from the Connecticut municipalemployees' retirement fund, on application of a state employee whois a member of tier I, the entire amount paid into the Connecticutmunicipal employees' retirement fund by the employee as a resultof the service of such employee, plus interest at the rate being paidby the Connecticut municipal employees' retirement fund from whichsuch amount is transferred from the date of each payment into suchfund to the date such employee became a member of the state employeesretirement system, such amount to be computed by the state retirementcommission. No transfer of municipal employee contributions and interestshall be required whenever a member of the tier II plan applies for suchretirement credit. "(b) On or before the first of the month following three monthsafter June 28, 1985, any member of the tier I plan in the stateemployees retirement system who was previously a member of theConnecticut municipal employees' retirement system and who, pursuantto the terms of section 7-440, withdrew all his contributions in themunicipal employees' retirement fund upon leaving municipal employmentshall be credited, for retirement purposes under this chapter, withsuch period of prior municipal service upon payment into the stateemployees retirement fund of an amount equal to the total of allcontributions refunded to him from the municipal employees' retirementfund plus five per cent interest on such contributions fromthe effective date of his withdrawal from the municipal fund tothe date of his application for credit under this subsection. Suchmunicipal service shall be considered to be active state service forthe purposes of this chapter. "(c) Any member of the state employees retirement system who hasprior service in a municipality, or a department of a municipality,which has not accepted the provisions of part II of chapter 113 shallreceive credit for the purpose of retirement under the provisions ofthis chapter for the period of such service, or any portion thereof,if he complies with the requirements of either subdivision (1) orsubdivision (2) of this subsection. (1) Such member may purchase creditfor such service upon payment to the state employees retirement fund ofeither two or five per cent, as appropriate, of his municipal salary forthe period of such service, plus an amount determined by the retirementcommission as necessary to fund the increased benefits payable byreason of such purchase with interest at the rate of six and one-halfper cent, compounded annually, on such payment. (2) Such member mayobtain credit for such service upon transfer of the entire amount paidinto a municipal retirement fund by the member and the municipalityduring the period of such service including any earned interest, andpayment of an amount determined by the retirement commission asnecessary to fund the increased benefits payable by reason of suchcredit, to the state employees retirement fund. Where required by amunicipal ordinance or charter provision, the comptroller may enterinto a reciprocal agreement with a municipality in order to effect atransfer of funds under this subdivision. No credit shall begranted under this subsection for any period of service for whicha retirement benefit is being paid by any governmental unit orwhere such grant would result in multiple service credit for thesame period of service."

3. See, e.g., General Statutes §§ 5-154, 5-162, 5-162f,5-162g, 5-162h, 5-163, 5-163a, 5-164a, and 5-166.

4. Public Acts 1984, No. 84-447. Subsection (b) wasfurther amended by Public Acts 1985, No. 85-510 to change thedates of eligibility.Page 521

The defendant state employees retirementcommission appeals from the judgment of the trialcourt reversing the commission's declaratory ruling.On appeal, the commission claims that the trial courtimproperly concluded that the plaintiff, Donald F.LoPresto, was entitled to include five years of municipalservice credit in the calculation of his hazardousduty retirement benefit. We agree and reverse thejudgment of the trial court.

The following facts are undisputed. The plaintiff isa retired state police trooper. He retired effectiveMarch 1, 1992, under the 1991-1992 early retirementincentive program. General Statutes 5-1731 providesthe guidelines for retirement benefits for state employeeswith hazardous duty service. The plaintiff had completedmore than twenty years of hazardous dutyservice. Thus, his retirement benefits were calculatedpursuant to General Statutes 5-173. Prior to workingas a state trooper, the plaintiff was employed asa police officer by the town of Stonington for five years.Before retiring, the plaintiff applied to purchase municipalservice credit pursuant to General Statutes 5-192b(b)for those five years of employment as a Stonington

[34 Conn. App. 512]

     police officer. Section 5-192b2 makes provision formembers of the state employees retirement system to

[34 Conn. App. 513]

     obtain credit for previous membership in a municipalretirement system.

The plaintiff requested credit for his prior municipalservice in the calculation of his hazardous dutyretirement benefit. The commission denied the plaintiff'srequest. In response, the plaintiff petitioned thecommission for a declaratory ruling. The commissionruled: "The Petitioner, a Tier I member of the ConnecticutState Employees Retirement System, is notentitled to include five years of municipal service creditpurchased in accordance with the provisions of ConnecticutGeneral Statutes, Section 5-192b (b) in the calculationof his hazardous duty retirement benefit underConnecticut General Statutes, Section 5-173." Theplaintiff appealed the commission's declaratory ruling.The trial court ruled in favor of the plaintiff; the commissionin turn appealed to this court.

The two statutes relevant to this appeal are GeneralStatutes 5-173 and 5-192b (b). The pertinent languageof 5-173 (b) provides: "On or after October 1,1982, each such person shall receive a monthly retirementincome equal to one-twelfth of (1) fifty per centof his base salary . . . for such twenty years of service,plus (2) two per cent of his base salary for eachyear, taken to completed months, of Connecticut stateservice in excess of twenty years . . . ." (Emphasisadded.) The relevant language of General Statutes5-192b (b) provides: "Such municipal service shall be

[34 Conn. App. 514]

     considered to be active state service for the purposesof this chapter." (Emphasis added.) We must determinewhether a hazardous duty employee may include priormunicipal service deemed "state service" under5-192b (b) as "Connecticut state service" in the calculationof his hazardous duty retirement benefits pursuantto General Statutes 5-173 (b).

The trial court concluded that the phrase "Connecticutstate service" in 5-173 included "state service"as contained in 5-192b (b). The trial court found thatthe word "`Connecticut' does not narrow or restrictthe meaning of the term in 5-173 so as to excludemunicipal service" and, thus, "[i]t necessarily includesmunicipal service in accordance with 5-192b (b)." Thetrial court reasoned that, because the language of5-192b provides that "municipal service shall be consideredto be active state service for purposes of thischapter" and "this chapter" includes 5-173, any otherinterpretation would "contradict the plain language ofthe statutes in question." We do not agree with thereasoning of the trial court.

"`The standard of judicial review of administrativeagency rulings is well established. Lieberman v. StateBoard of Labor Relations, 216 Conn. 253, 261,579 A.2d 505 (1990); Board of Education v. State EmployeesRetirement Commission, 210 Conn. 531, 540,556 A.2d 572 (1989).' Tomlinson v. Board of Education,226 Conn. 704, 712, 629 A.2d 333 (1993). General Statutes4-183 (j) `permits modification or reversal of anagency's decision if substantial rights of the personappealing have been prejudiced because the administrativefindings, inferences, conclusions, or decisions are: (1)[i]n violation of constitutional or statutory provisions;(2) in excess of the statutory authority of theagency; (3) made upon unlawful procedure; (4) affectedby other error of law; (5) clearly erroneous in view ofthe reliable, probative, and substantial evidence on the

[34 Conn. App. 515]

     whole record; or (6) arbitrary or capricious or characterizedby abuse of discretion or clearly unwarranted exerciseof discretion. . . . [T]he [reviewing] court may notretry the case or substitute its judgment for that ofthe agency on the weight of the evidence or questionsof fact. . . . Rather, an agency's factual and discretionarydeterminations are to be accordedconsiderable weight by the courts>. . . ." (Citationsomitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) Local 1183of Council No. 4 v. State Board of Labor Relations,33 Conn. App. 541, 546-47, 636 A.2d 1366 (1994).

"On the other hand, it is the function of the courts>to expound and apply governing principles of law.N.L.R.B. v. Brown, 380 U.S. 278, 291, 85 S.Ct. 980,13 L.Ed.2d 839 (1965); International Brotherhood ofElectrical Workers v. N.L.R.B., 487 F.2d 1143,1170-71 (D.C. Cir. 1973), aff'd sub nom. Florida Power& Light Co. v. International Brotherhood of ElectricalWorkers, 417 U.S. 790, 94 S.Ct. 2737, 41 L.Ed.2d477 (1974); Connecticut Hospital Assn., Inc. v. Commissionon Hospitals & Health Care, [200 Conn. 133,140, 509 A.2d 1050 (1986)]; Real Estate Listing Service,Inc. v. Real Estate Commission, 179 Conn. 128,138-39, 425 A.2d 581 (1979). State Medical Society v.Board of Examiners in Podiatry, [208 Conn. 709,717-18, 546 A.2d 830 (1988)]." (Internal quotationmarks omitted.) Lieberman v. Board of Labor Relations,supra, 216 Conn. 262-63.

The answer to the question presented in thisappeal - whether a hazardous duty employee mayinclude prior municipal service deemed "state service"under 5-192b (b) as "Connecticut state service" in thecalculation of his hazardous duty retirement benefitspursuant to 5-173 (b) - "turns upon the interpretationof the interrelationship of the various state statutes.This is purely a question of law, and, therefore, invokesa broader standard of review than is ordinarily involved

[34 Conn. App. 516]

     in deciding whether, in light of the evidence, the agencyhas acted unreasonably, arbitrarily, illegally or in abuseof its discretion. See [State Medical Society v. Boardof Examiners in Podiatry, supra, 208 Conn. 718];Robinson v. Unemployment Security Board of Review,181 Conn. 1, 5-6, 434 A.2d 293 (1980)." Lieberman v.Board of Labor Relations, supra, 216 Conn. 263.

"Although the interpretation of statutes is ultimatelya question of law; Connecticut Hospital Assn., Inc. v.Commission on Hospitals & Health Care, 200 Conn. 133,140, 509 A.2d 1050 (1986); it is the well establishedpractice of this court to `accord great deference to theconstruction given [a] statute by the agency chargedwith its enforcement.' Corey v. Avco-Lycoming Division,163 Conn. 309, 326, 307 A.2d 155 (1972)(Loiselle, J., concurring), cert. denied, 409 U.S. 1116,93 S.Ct. 903, 34 L.Ed.2d 699 (1973); accord, Fellinv. Administrator, 196 Conn. 440, 447, 493 A.2d 174(1985); Board of Education v. Connecticut State Boardof Labor Relations, 190 Conn. 235, 241, 460 A.2d 1255(1983); Chamber of Commerce of Greater Waterbury,Inc. v. Lanese., 184 Conn. 326, 331, 439 A.2d 1043(1981); Connecticut State Board of Labor Relations v.Board of Education, 177 Conn. 68, 74, 411 A.2d 28(1979); Connecticut Light & Power Co. v. Public UtilitiesControl Authority, 176 Conn. 191, 198,405 A.2d 638 (1978); Anderson v. Ludgin, 175 Conn. 545, 555,400 A.2d 712 (1978)." Griffin Hospital v. Commissionon Hospitals & Health Care, 200 Conn. 489, 496-97,512 A.2d 199 (1986).

General Statutes 5-155a (c) charges the commissionwith the duty to administer the Connecticut stateemployees retirement system. Since 5-173 and5-192b are both a part of the Connecticut state employeesretirement system, we accord great deference tothe commission's interpretation of these statutes. Thecommission interprets the word "Connecticut" in

[34 Conn. App. 517]

     5-173 to limit the state service for which one mayreceive credit for hazardous duty retirement benefitsto actual state service and not municipal service consideredto be state service by 5-192b(b).

"To determine the collectively expressed legislativeintent, we look first to the language of the statute itself.If that language is plain and unambiguous, we go nofurther. University of Connecticut v. Freedom of InformationCommission, 217 Conn. 322, 328, 585 A.2d 690(1991). If, however, the statute is ambiguous, e.g.,either opaque or susceptible to alternative conflictinginterpretations, we will seek guidance from `extrinsicaids,' e.g., the legislative history. Shelby Mutual Ins.Co. v. Della Ghelfa, 200 Conn. 630, 637-38,513 A.2d 52 (1986); State v. Ellis, 197 Conn. 436, 445,497 A.2d 974 (1985). If the legislative history and purpose arealso ambiguous, we may resort to `intrinsic aids,' thetechnical rules of statutory construction. Farms CountryClub, Inc. v. Carini, 172 Conn. 439, 443,374 A.2d 1094 (1977); see also Citizens to Preserve Overton Park,Inc. v. Volpe, 401 U.S. 402, 412 n. 29, 91 S.Ct. 814,28 L.Ed.2d 136 (1971); 2A J. Sutherland, StatutoryConstruction (4th Ed. Sands) § 48.01. In applying theseprinciples, we follow the `golden rule of statutory interpretation';2A J. Sutherland, supra, 45.12, p. 54; thatthe legislature is presumed to have intended a reasonable,just and constitutional result. See Board of Educationv. State Board of Labor Relations, 217 Conn. 110,126, 584 A.2d 1172 (1991); Gentry v. Norwalk,196 Conn. 596, 606, 494 A.2d 1206 (1985); Bridgeport v.Stratford, 142 Conn. 634, 644, 116 A.2d 508 (1955);Camp v. Rogers, 44 Conn. 291, 298 (1877); see also 2AJ. Sutherland, supra, 45.11, 45.12." Sanzone v.Board of Police Commissioners, 219 Conn. 179, 187,592 A.2d 912 (1991).

It is not clear from the plain language of either5-173 or 5-192b whether "Connecticut state service"

[34 Conn. App. 518]

     as used in 5-173 includes "state service" as usedin 5-192b(b). In addition, our search of the legislativehistory of 5-173 does not shed any light on thelegislature's purpose for including the word "Connecticut"preceding "state service." We, therefore, turnto well established maxims of statutory construction.

"`In construing a statute, this court seeks to ascertainthe intent of the legislature as it is expressedthrough the words actually used.' State v. Grant,176 Conn. 17, 20, 404 A.2d 873 (1978)." State v. Anderson,227 Conn. 518, 527-28, 631 A.2d 1149 (1993). The trialcourt's conclusion that "Connecticut state service" isthe same as "state service" renders the word "Connecticut"meaningless. "[N]o part of a legislative enactmentis to be treated as insignificant or unnecessary,and there is a presumption of purpose behind every sentence,clause or phrase . . . and no word in a statuteis to be treated as superfluous. Peck v. Jacquemin,196 Conn. 53, 66, 491 A.2d 1043 (1985)." (Citations omitted;internal quotation marks omitted.) Id. We conclude,therefore, that the word "Connecticut" must setsome limitation or restraint on the words "stateservice."

Further support for this conclusion is found byreviewing the statutory sections that constitute theConnecticut state employees retirement system. GeneralStatutes 5-154 et seq. The phrase "state service"is found throughout these sections.3 We conclude,therefore, that when the legislature attached the word"Connecticut" to the phrase "state service" in 5-173it intended something different from the phrase "stateservice" without "Connecticut" attached to it as foundthroughout the statutory scheme.

[34 Conn. App. 519]

The legislative history of 5-192b reveals the legislature'spurpose in enacting subsections (b) and (c).Before 1984, the statute consisted of only subsection(a). In 1984, the legislature amended the statuteto add subsections (b) and (c).4 The purpose of theamendment was to resolve the inequities created bysubsection (a), which did not permit certain membersof the state employees retirement system (SERS), whowere previously members of a municipal employeesretirement system (MERS), to obtain retirement creditfor that service. 27 H.R. Proc., Pt. 19, 1984 Sess.,pp. 6904-906; 27 S. Proc., Pt. 6, 1984 Sess., p. 2228.Subsection (a) allows a state employee, who is a memberof SERS, who had prior service in a municipalitythat had joined MERS and who did not withdraw hisor her retirement contributions, to obtain credit forthose contributions for the purpose of retirement benefits.This, however, left members of SERS who previouslyhad been employed by municipalities that had notjoined MERS and those who had withdrawn theirretirement contributions unable to obtain credit fortheir prior municipal service. The amendment addingsubsections (b) and (c) remedied this inequity. Subsection(b) provides that members of SERS who previouslyhad been municipal employees whose municipality hadjoined MERS and who withdrew their retirement contributionsfrom the municipal retirement fund whenthey left municipal service may obtain credit for thosecontributions by making certain payments into theSERS fund. Subsection (c) provides that members ofSERS who had previously been municipal employeesand had prior service in a municipality that had notjoined MERS may also obtain credit for that priormunicipal service by certain payments of transfers.

[34 Conn. App. 520]

The trial court's interpretation of 5-192b, for thepurposes of hazardous duty retirement benefits, recreatesthe same type of inequity that the 1984 amendmentwas designed to remedy. The language convertingmunicipal service to state service is found only in subsection(b). Thus, only hazardous duty employees whopreviously had worked for a municipality that hadjoined MERS and who had withdrawn their retirementcontributions when they left municipal service wouldbe entitled to credit for their previous municipal service.Hazardous duty employees who fall under subsection(a) or (c) would not be entitled to a credit for theirprior municipal service because those subsections donot contain the language converting municipal serviceto state service. This result directly contradicts thelegislature's intent in amending 5-192b. We cannotpresume that the legislature intended to create sucha bizarre result. See DeMilo v. West Haven, 189 Conn. 671,679, 458 A.2d 362 (1983), and cases cited therein.

Taking together our deference to the commission'sinterpretation of the statutes, the opinion of the trialcourt rendering the word "Connecticut" meaningless,and the fact that the trial court's interpretation is notonly contrary to the legislature's intent but also createsa bizarre result, we conclude that the word "Connecticut"in 5-173 places a limitation on the phrase"state service." We hold, therefore, that "Connecticutstate service" as used in 5-173 is limited to actualservice for the state of Connecticut and does not includeprior municipal service considered state service pursuantto 5-192b (b).

The judgment is reversed and the case is remandedwith direction to render judgment denying the plaintiff'sappeal.

In this opinion the other judges concurred.

1. General Statutes 5-173 provides in pertinent part: "(a) Astate policeman in the active service of the division of statepolice within the department of public safety . . . who has reachedhis forty-seventh birthday and completed at least twenty years ofhazardous duty service for the state . . . shall be retired on hisown application or on the application of the commissioner of publicsafety or the commissioner of correction, as the case may be. "(b) On or after October 1, 1982, each such person shallreceive a monthly retirement income equal to one-twelfth of(1) fifty per cent of his base salary, as defined in subsection(b) of section 5-162, for such twenty years of service, plus(2) two per cent of his base salary for each year, taken tocompleted months, of Connecticut state service in excess oftwenty years . . . .

2. General Statutes 5-192b provides: "(a) Any person whobecame a member of the state employees retirement system and whopreviously was a member of the Connecticut municipal employees'retirement system shall receive credit for the purpose of retirementunder the provisions of this chapter for the period of his servicewith such municipality, provided there shall be transferred to thestate employees retirement fund from the Connecticut municipalemployees' retirement fund, on application of a state employee whois a member of tier I, the entire amount paid into the Connecticutmunicipal employees' retirement fund by the employee as a resultof the service of such employee, plus interest at the rate being paidby the Connecticut municipal employees' retirement fund from whichsuch amount is transferred from the date of each payment into suchfund to the date such employee became a member of the state employeesretirement system, such amount to be computed by the state retirementcommission. No transfer of municipal employee contributions and interestshall be required whenever a member of the tier II plan applies for suchretirement credit. "(b) On or before the first of the month following three monthsafter June 28, 1985, any member of the tier I plan in the stateemployees retirement system who was previously a member of theConnecticut municipal employees' retirement system and who, pursuantto the terms of section 7-440, withdrew all his contributions in themunicipal employees' retirement fund upon leaving municipal employmentshall be credited, for retirement purposes under this chapter, withsuch period of prior municipal service upon payment into the stateemployees retirement fund of an amount equal to the total of allcontributions refunded to him from the municipal employees' retirementfund plus five per cent interest on such contributions fromthe effective date of his withdrawal from the municipal fund tothe date of his application for credit under this subsection. Suchmunicipal service shall be considered to be active state service forthe purposes of this chapter. "(c) Any member of the state employees retirement system who hasprior service in a municipality, or a department of a municipality,which has not accepted the provisions of part II of chapter 113 shallreceive credit for the purpose of retirement under the provisions ofthis chapter for the period of such service, or any portion thereof,if he complies with the requirements of either subdivision (1) orsubdivision (2) of this subsection. (1) Such member may purchase creditfor such service upon payment to the state employees retirement fund ofeither two or five per cent, as appropriate, of his municipal salary forthe period of such service, plus an amount determined by the retirementcommission as necessary to fund the increased benefits payable byreason of such purchase with interest at the rate of six and one-halfper cent, compounded annually, on such payment. (2) Such member mayobtain credit for such service upon transfer of the entire amount paidinto a municipal retirement fund by the member and the municipalityduring the period of such service including any earned interest, andpayment of an amount determined by the retirement commission asnecessary to fund the increased benefits payable by reason of suchcredit, to the state employees retirement fund. Where required by amunicipal ordinance or charter provision, the comptroller may enterinto a reciprocal agreement with a municipality in order to effect atransfer of funds under this subdivision. No credit shall begranted under this subsection for any period of service for whicha retirement benefit is being paid by any governmental unit orwhere such grant would result in multiple service credit for thesame period of service."

3. See, e.g., General Statutes §§ 5-154, 5-162, 5-162f,5-162g, 5-162h, 5-163, 5-163a, 5-164a, and 5-166.

4. Public Acts 1984, No. 84-447. Subsection (b) wasfurther amended by Public Acts 1985, No. 85-510 to change thedates of eligibility.Page 521

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