Beacon Falls hires tax collector

Timing, procedure of hire and appointments come under question

BEACON FALLS — The tax collector is no longer an elected position in town, but the timing of filling the position came into question.

The Board of Selectmen voted 2-1 Nov. 6 to hire Mary Anne Holloway as tax collector. Holloway has served as tax collector, which was previously an elected position, for the past six years.

Selectman Michael Krenesky voted against the motion. According to the meeting minutes, Krenesky said his vote had nothing to do with Holloway’s qualifications, but rather the procedure followed, especially with the change in the town’s administration. He said in the past the town never hired someone without having an interview and the human resources firm that works for the town present to officials.

Gerard Smith was elected first selectman Nov. 5 and officially takes office Monday.

The town contracts with the firm McInnis Inc. out of Milford for human resources services. In an interview after the meeting, First Selectman Christopher Bielik, who was elected as a selectman despite losing the first selectman race to Smith, said the town received a number of applications for the job, but Holloway was the only one with any relevant experience.

A message left with McInnis Inc. seeking information about the applicants was not returned.

Bielik said the town has been working on the plan to transition the tax collector position since 2018, when voters approved moving forward with hiring the tax collector and town clerk instead of electing the positions, and wanted to have a tax collector in place by Oct. 25

“Originally our intention was to close the search and schedule interviews and make an offer before the election,” Bielik said. “We wanted to have someone in place and ready to go by the time the elections took place.”

Bielik said the town only received one qualified applicant — Holloway — and decided to keep the hiring process open a week longer to get more qualified candidates. The town didn’t receive any more candidates, he said, and McInnis Inc. recommended the town move forward with the process.

“We felt we had done our due diligence and some extra due diligence,” Bielik said. “We were still sitting on the one qualified applicant we had.”

The tax collector position is part time and is paid $33.85 per hour. The position is slated for an average of 25 hours per week, which works out to about $44,000 a year. The position does not receive benefits.

The town clerk position will become hired when Town Clerk Len Greene’s term ends in 2020.

The job description for the tax collector requires an applicant to be a certified Connecticut municipal collector or to earn the certification within three years of being hired.

Holloway said she is not certified. She said she would get certified if the town requested her to do so.

During the meeting, the board also reappointed seven people to various boards, commissions  and positions in town. All the appointments were approved by a vote of 2-1, with Krenesky voting against each one.

According to the minutes, Krenesky pointed out that in November of an election year the board has historically passed a blanket motion to defer hiring or appointing anyone or signing any contracts until the new administration takes office.

Bielik said the town follows the same plan every year and makes reappointments to positions that are expiring in November.

“If the person who is currently filling a position wishes to be reappointed it is a no-brainer,” Bielik said. “It was done as a matter of course.”

Bielik said the appointments also allow the boards and commissions to have a quorum this month.

Smith said previous first selectmen have typically extended all business for 30 days when a new administration is about to take office. He felt it was uncommon that the board moved forward with so many items before the transition.

“I did find it highly unusual to appoint and hire during the transition period,” Smith said.

Bielik said the board made the appointments and decision to hire Holloway in order to keep the town running smoothly.

“If there are people who think we have delayed action on request for any other purpose I would say that is not the case,” Bielik said. “People are reading into something they want to read into.”