Since my previous letter to the editor regarding delinquent taxes in Beacon Falls, I have been told the combined amounts for real estate and vehicles exceeds $1 million. Rather than another tax increase, I would prefer to see more aggressive collections of delinquent taxes — as every tax dollar not collected means a dollar added to the tax bill of prompt taxpayers.
A previous manager of mine used to say, “Don’t bring me a problem without bringing solutions.” With that in mind, here are three suggestions for collecting back taxes.
1. As stated last time, use a “boot system” rendering vehicles undriveable until the owner pays the back vehicle tax. At that time, the company who is hired will remove the boot.
2. For real estate and vehicle taxes, hire an outside source that is paid in a similar fashion to an attorney. They do not receive a salary but instead are compensated with an agreed upon percentage of back taxes that are collected. The compensation for this work is with money that we probably would have never seen. What do we have to lose?
3. Convert the elected tax collector’s job to a non-union, full-time hired position where collection standards are established according to industry norms and used to determine employee performance. Further establish and use delinquency benchmarks which will be used to begin the tax lien sale process. This no longer should be a subjective decision where some residents are given preferential treatment.
I am sure there are various combinations of the above or other options that could work. However, in my opinion, and I am sure for many other Beacon Falls residents, doing nothing is no longer an option. The passive approach that has been used for years is not working.
If taxpayers agree with me, now is the time to speak up. The adoption of a new system for collecting taxes should be put on the ballot for the fall election. Let taxpayers decide if it’s time to overhaul the process for collecting delinquent taxes.
The boot is a good idea, but someone needs to research where the boot can be used. Most communities that have ordinances apparently only use them for parking tickets, and more importantly, the municipality CANNOT enter private property and attach the boot. This means that you must find the car on a public street. This works in a city like Waterbury, but not in Beacon Falls where most people have driveways/off-street parking.
One additional option for back real estate taxes is to sell the outstanding debt to a private debt service company.