BEACON FALLS — Town officials are hoping to break the $1 million mark in delinquent taxes collected over the past year when several properties go to auction next month.
First Selectman Christopher Bielik said when Tax Collector Maryann Holloway took office in November there was approximately $2.8 million in outstanding back taxes owed to the town. Since then, he said, Holloway has collected more than $850,000 in back taxes, interest and fees.
Holloway said it took a few months after she took office to get all the back tax numbers in order, but once she had them, she began pursuing them.
“I started in January and hit the ground running,” Holloway said.
Holloway has also identified the top five property owners who owe the most in unpaid taxes and is moving the properties to a tax auction, Bielik said. The properties add up to more than $250,000 in delinquent taxes.
The five property owners identified by Holloway are Point Center Financial, Inc., which owns lot 27 and lot 13 on Bear Hill Road and owes $165,448; Pines Bridge Industrial, LLC, which owns 61 Lancaster Drive and 3, 5 and 7 Havilland Drive and owes $53,709; Donkey Enterprises, LLC which owns 280 Lopus Road and owes $21,598; C&C Renewal, LLC, which owns 251 and 253 South Main St. and owes $12,143.
All of the properties are set to go to auction on Oct. 9, Bielik said.
Holloway said of those five properties, three of them had already been given to the state marshal for collection of taxes and two others showed no interest in repaying the taxes owed.
“I had to make a decision. If there’s no desire to resolve this we have to put them up for auction,” Holloway said.
Once those properties are sold Holloway will hit a new benchmark in her time as tax collector.
“If all those properties sell by the auction on Oct. 9 that gets her north of the million dollar mark in 11 months,” Bielik said of Holloway’s collection rate.
Bielik said the properties on Bear Hill Road have already been foreclosed on by the bank and the bank planned to hold a separate auction on Sept. 17, after press time. If the property does not sell during that auction it will be put to auction again by the town in October with the rest of the properties.
“From our perspective it doesn’t matter whether we conduct the auction or the bank conducts the auction, the town retains its position as first in line when the property sells to get the back taxes paid. So if the bank is going to do it ahead of our schedule our position is ‘Great,’” Bielik said.
While he supports the decision to bring these properties to auction Bielik said the town would rather work with residents to pay off back taxes than auction off a property.
“We understand economic times are tough out there and we’d certainly prefer not to auction off properties. Our intention is to get everybody who owes back taxes to the town on some kind of remittance or payment plan schedule that will allow them to retain ownership of the property and for the town still to be able to get what’s due it. This is a move of last resort, but it’s one, if you run out of other options, is sometimes a necessary step in the process that shows we are serious about going after money the town is owed,” Bielik said.
The town has brought properties to auction twice before, the last time being in 2011, Bielik said.
While she has had to send the five properties to auction, more often than not Holloway has received a good response from people who owe taxes to the town.
“There are a good number of people that I have set up payment plans with. Some people were completely unaware they owed anything,” Holloway said. “I feel real good about the responses. The ones I don’t get anywhere with I am sending out demand notices, but most people are receptive to a payment plan or paying their taxes.”
Bielik was hopeful that the properties would sell at the auctions, saying the town could find good ways to use the money.
“It’s some small numbers that are in there, but small being relative. $20,000? I’ll take it,” Bielik said.