Selectman pledges town salary to pay off back taxes

BEACON FALLS — Selectman Peter Betkoski has vowed to put the salary he earns from the elected position toward paying off back taxes on his business.

Betkoski, a Democrat, made the announcement during Monday’s Board of Selectmen meeting.

Betkoski, who said that he is on a payment plan for the back taxes, owes about $21,000 in taxes for his company, Betkoski Brothers, dating back to 2014, according to records on the town’s website. He is current on the taxes for his home.

Selectmen earn a salary of $12,000 per year. Betkoski, who was re-elected in November, said he will put his selectman salary toward paying off the taxes until he is caught up.

Betkoski has faced criticism, especially from Republicans in town, for earning a salary as an elected official while owing taxes.

In 2016, Selectman Michael Krenesky, a Republican who was re-elected in November, proposed an ordinance that would have prohibited elected and appointed officials on boards from receiving their stipend or salary if they owed back taxes. At the time, Town Attorney Fred Stanek said the proposal went against state statutes.

Republican Town Committee member Shawn Styfco has been critical of Betkoski in letters to the editor published in the Citizen’s News.

First Selectman Christopher Bielik said the fact that Betkoski is voluntarily giving up his salary deserves recognition.

“I just want to say that I think the town of Beacon Falls should recognize the effort that you are making by taking that step. I want to commend you for doing so,” Bielik said.

The rhetoric ramped up again prior to last November’s the election.

Betkoski’s back taxes were the subject of a Freedom of Information complaint against the tax office filed by Krenesky last October. Krenesky had filed a FOI request that sought information on the back taxes and a payment plan.

On Monday, Krenesky thanked Betkoski for putting his selectman salary toward the back taxes.

“I am glad to see — just to prove beyond a shadow of doubt — that you are stepping up,” Krenesky said.

Former First Selectman Gerard Smith, a Republican, also thanked Betkoski, saying he was doing the right thing.

“Peter, I appreciate that you are representing the town and that you are actually going to get that squared away. I think it is a good thing to do,” Smith said.

Jack Betkoski, chairman of the Economic Development Commission and Betkoski’s brother, said his family has devoted their lives to Beacon Falls and will continue to do so. He said the family will no longer put up with the criticism targeted against Peter Betkoski.

“We gave our blood, sweat and tears to this town,” said Jack Betkoski, who commended his brother for pledging his salary to pay off the back taxes. “For this to go on the way it is, is disgusting and makes people not want to stay in public service.”