Back taxes subject of proposed ordinances

BEACON FALLS — Selectman Michael Krenesky has proposed two ordinances that would target specific groups of taxpayers who owe outstanding taxes.

Krenesky raised the proposals during the Board of Selectmen meeting June 13.

One proposal, which would be a new ordinance, states that any elected or appointed officials on a board, committee, or commission who receives a stipend or salary from the town would not be eligible to receive that payment if they owe outstanding taxes, fees or fines. Any official who falls under this ordinance would not receive their stipend or salary until their debt is paid off.

There are several elected or appointed officials that receive a salary from the town. However, the way the proposal is written — stipulating officials on a board, committee, or commission — the ordinance would only affect six people: the three members of the Board of Assessment Appeals and the three members of the Board of Selectmen.

Currently, of the six members on the boards only Selectman Peter Betkoski owes any outstanding taxes.

According to Tax Collector Mary Anne Holloway, Betkoski owed $11,614.74 as of June 16.

The taxes owed by Betkoski are related to his paving company, Betkoski Brothers. He doesn’t owe any personal property taxes.

Betkoski, a Democrat, is currently on a payment plan. Holloway said he has already paid off a significant amount of the outstanding taxes he owed.

Betkoski said he fell behind on his taxes when the economy crashed in 2008. He said he plans on paying off everything that he owes to the town as quickly as he possibly can.

Krenesky, a Republican, said the idea for this proposed ordinance came from questions he received from residents.

“They said, ‘we have elected officials creating tax policy, suggesting budgets, and setting the mill rate. Do we have any elected officials on back taxes list,’” Krenesky said.

Krenesky said he heard residents say this ordinance may stop people from running for office, but he does not think that is the case.

“It won’t stop them from running, but they won’t collect taxpayers’ money until they have paid everything off,” Krenesky said. “It just seems to me to be a matter of ethics, doing something that is right. That’s why I crafted that ordinance.”

The second proposal is a change to an existing ordinance, which is related to taxes and the issuance of permits.

Under the current ordinance, no taxpayer in Beacon Falls who owes outstanding taxes will be issued a building permit, septic installation permit or water hook-up permit.

Krenesky’s proposed change adds that taxpayers who outstanding taxes will not be considered as a bidder or awarded a contract for any town-issued or town-authorized projects as either a primary contractor or subcontractor.

Krenesky said his proposed change is to help the tax collector collect more back taxes.

“[The current ordinance] didn’t seem to have the teeth to get the job done. It was not specific enough to spell out to whom was affected. I decided it was time to take a look at the ordinance and put some specificity to it and how to handle it,” Krenesky said.

Krenesky said the ordinance is not aimed at stopping business growth in the town.

“We want to encourage local businesses, but why are we throwing money at businesses not paying taxes,” Krenesky said.

The selectmen took no action on either proposal. The proposals were sent to the town’s legal counsel to be reviewed, which is standard procedure.

First Selectman Christopher Bielik said, while not an expert on law, he has concerns about the ordinance that targeted elected and appointed officials.

“I know that our tax collector has certain abilities under the state statutes to collect back taxes. I’m not sure if a proposal such as this one runs counter to what they already have in place, which is why we always run it through the attorneys first,” Bielik said.

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