Beacon Falls targets back taxes

BEACON FALLS — The town’s new tax collector is stepping up her efforts to collect delinquent taxes.

Tax Collector Mary Anne Holloway, who was elected in November, told the Board of Selectmen March 10 that she has been busy trying to get up to speed in her new position and to collect as much revenue for the town as she possibly can.

“My first priority is and will always be the collection of taxes in a timely manner,” Holloway said. “I realized quick enough the tax collector’s position had a great deal of catching up to do.”

Holloway said she has been devising a way to collect the $2.8 million the town is owed in back taxes.

First Selectman Christopher Bielik said about $1.4 million of the back taxes is from approximately 45 accounts which owe $10,000 or more.

Bielik said those were the first people the town is planning to go after.

“It seemed like a good first bite of the apple, so to speak, to use our energies going after those high value numbers to get a large return on the investment of resources we are going after. Then the plan, once we have resolution on those $1.4 million, is to start chipping away at the elephant,” Bielik said.

Holloway said she has already met the marshal that handles warrants to go over the details of the delinquent properties and is working with four accounts on payment plans.

Holloway said she has developed a five-step plan to help the town recoup as much of the delinquent taxes as possible. The first step is to send out a letter to all accounts that are behind on their taxes. The next few steps include reminder letters and a letter that lays out what will happen to the account holder’s property if the taxes are not brought up to date. The final step is sending the account to the marshal and into the legal system.

The entire process takes about two months for each case, which Holloway believes is an appropriate amount of time for people to grasp the full extent of the consequences.

“I don’t want to take someone’s house just like that. I want to give them a little bit of time to realize this is coming down the road,” Holloway said.

Holloway said she sent out delinquent tax bills with a reminder notice to all delinquent accounts at the end of February.

“We did that and we received quite a response. So simultaneously we are working on the high ones, but we are sending out for the lower ones as well,” Holloway said. “I was very gratified at the response we got from just sending out those bills alone.”

Holloway said some people didn’t realize they had to pay two times a year and some people had simply forgotten to pay their bills.

If those people either pay what they owe or are making a good-faith effort to set up a payment plan, the town will take no further actions against them, Holloway said.

“It behooves us, of course, to work with taxpayers,” Holloway said.

Holloway said she is not afraid to take all necessary actions with delinquent taxpayers, but she wants to ensure they have a fair opportunity.

“I’m not afraid to bring the hammer down, but I want to be able to give everybody the right to say this is what I can pay,” Holloway said.

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