Beacon Falls tax collector resigns, cites rancor with first selectman   

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Elio Gugliotti, Editor

BEACON FALLS — Months after the Board of Selectmen appointed Mary Anne Holloway the town’s first hired tax collector in a divided vote — a move that elicited criticism — she resigned from the position citing what she called a “grudge” held against her by First Selectman Gerard Smith.

Holloway, a Democrat, resigned Jan. 31 after submitting her resignation letter that same evening. In the letter, Holloway said her decision to resign stemmed from a conversation on Jan. 24 she had with Smith, who is unaffiliated but served as first selectman from 2011 to 2013 as a Republican.

Holloway said Smith held a “grudge” against her from when she was first elected in 2013. At the time, Holloway said, she sent letters to people who owed delinquent taxes, including Smith.

Town records of suspended taxes — taxes that are considered no longer collectable — show delinquent tax bills from 2007 and 2008 totaling about $900 for the business Federated Mortgage, which Smith owned. The business dissolved in 2009, according to records on the Secretary of State’s website.

Smith said last week he shared with Holloway that he felt it was unfair that she went after him for back taxes, particularly since the business had been defunct for years, when other people in town owed significantly more in back taxes.

Holloway faced criticism from some people during her tenure for what some felt wasn’t an aggressive enough approach to going after back taxes owed by former Selectman Peter Betkoski, a Democrat who owes thousands in back taxes on his business, Betkoski Brothers.

Holloway said the laws applied differently to Betkoski because he filed for bankruptcy.

“I have been nothing but fair to the residents of the town as I only looked at delinquent monies owed and how to achieve the goal of collecting them without looking at what the taxpayer’s political affiliation was,” she wrote in her resignation letter.

Holloway wrote she chose to resign because she felt Smith wasn’t able or willing to work with her on a professional level.

“It was a conversation that she shared and I really don’t want to go down that road,” Smith said in response to the resignation letter.

The tax collector became a hired position when Holloway’s elected term expired in November. The Board of Selectmen voted 2-1 Nov. 6 to hire Holloway for the job. Then-First Selectman Christopher Bielik and Betkoski, both Democrats, supported the motion.

The vote was criticized because it came a day after Smith defeated Bielik in the race for first selectman in the Nov. 5 election and before the transition to the new administration. At the time, Bielik, who is now a selectman, said the town wanted to hire a tax collector earlier but only received one qualified applicant — Holloway — for the part-time position. He said at the time the town decided to keep the hiring process open a little longer to get more qualified candidates but didn’t receive any more.

Smith said the assessor’s office has been filling in for the tax collector since Holloway resigned. The town is in the process of hiring a new tax collector, he said, and he expected to have the position filled soon.

Smith said he changed the job descriptions for the tax collector and assistant tax collector positions after discussing it with union representatives. The tax collector is now a full-time, non-union position with benefits, he said. The assistant tax collector went from full time to a part-time, union position.

Smith said these changes should have been made by the previous administration before hiring a tax collector and, if they were, the town would have received applications for the job from more than one qualified person.