Finance board rejects company’s second attempt at incentive

Dibra LLC submitted a second application for a tax incentive on the newly-constructed building at 113 South Main St. in Beacon Falls. The Board of Finance rejected the application. –LUKE MARSHALL

BEACON FALLS — A company’s second attempt at applying for a tax incentive didn’t get off the ground.

The Board of Finance last week unanimously voted to deny an application for the town’s tax incentive program submitted by Dibra LLC.

Dibra, which is based in Seymour, applied for the incentive for a new, nearly 1,900-square-foot building at 113 South Main St. The program would have given the company a four-year tax incentive on the building that abates 50 percent of taxes in the first year and incrementally decreases to 20 percent in the fourth year.

This was the second time the company applied for the incentive program, which offers abatements to companies that construct a new commercial building or invest in an existing one, for the building on South Main Street.

The Board of Finance and the Board of Selectman approved the first application, but voters rejected it at a town meeting on Aug. 28.

Dibra resubmitted its application with a couple minor changes, including changing the manager listed on the application from Mario Trepca to Bledi Trepca.

Board members felt the changes weren’t enough to warrant going back through the process.

“This application is identical to what the taxpayers shot down. The taxpayers are the legislative body of the town of Beacon Falls. Neither the Board of Finance nor the Board of Selectmen have any right or authority to override the taxpayers of the town. This has been asked and answered. There is nothing for us to do with this,” Board of Finance Vice Chairman Joe Rodorigo said.

Board of Finance member Thomas Pratt said moving forward with the application could set a precedent.

“Are we opening up Pandora’s Box by letting the same application come through again,” Pratt said. “I have concerns that, down the road if someone doesn’t get it, it is just going to mushroom into other legal actions.”

Rodorigo echoed Pratt’s comments, saying approving the second application would allow any company that was denied to take another chance at having its application approved.

“The precedent we would set by moving this forward is that you have given the company two bites of the apple. Which means any company moving forward now has a legal precedent that you did this. So you should not do this,” Rodorigo said.

First Selectman Christopher Bielik said the application was back in front of the board because it’s the first body to rule on an application. He said Economic Development Coordinator Sadie Colcord can only ensure an application is filled out properly before forwarding it.

“There is no provision anywhere in the intermediate steps along the way for an application to not be accepted by the economic development coordinator. She receives the application, she reviews it for completeness, and then it is forwarded to the Board of Finance because you folks are the first gatekeepers who decide whether to move it forward or not,” Bielik said.

Bledi Trepca said he felt the decision should be up to the boards that run the town.

“If the Board of Finance approved this application, as well as the Board of Selectmen, wouldn’t you think these two boards know what the best interest of the town is,” Trepca said.

Whether the boards agreed with a decision made at the town meeting, it’s ultimately up to the residents, Rodorigo said.

“It’s their money. They get to choose what they spend their money on,” Rodorigo said.

In an interview after the meeting, Bledi Trepca said he felt the board was fair. However, he said he wished the residents were better informed about the company and the ordinance before they voted at the town meeting.

“My only concern was the people who voted it down didn’t have all the information” he said.

Bledi Trepca said the company isn’t sure whether it will continue to pursue the tax incentive for the building.