Company asks town to reconsider tax incentive vote

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BEACON FALLS — A vote to deny a tax incentive to an out-of-town company has the business owners upset and the town’s top official concerned about the message it sends.

At an August town meeting, voters rejected an application from the Seymour-based property management company Dibra LLC for a tax abatement under the town’s tax incentive ordinance. The application was for an abatement on a commercial building the company built at 113 South Main St. Voters unanimously approved an incentive for the Goldenrod Corporation, which is based at 25 Lancaster Drive, at the meeting.

The Board of Selectmen and Board of Finance previously approved both applications, but the voters had the final say.

Mario Trepca, who owns Dibra, came before the Board of Selectmen last week and asked the town to reconsider the vote.

“I am not asking for favors or handouts. I am only asking humbly that you help me make this place a town we can all be proud of,” Trepca told the board.

Dibra’s application met the requirements under the ordinance for a four-year tax incentive that would have abated 50 percent of taxes in the first year and incrementally decreased to 20 percent in the fourth year.

However, at the town meeting, some voters argued that the company shouldn’t get an incentive since it’s based in Seymour and raised concerns that Trepca has only paid for one sewer hookup for the building, which could potentially have two tenants.

Bledi Trepca, who has recently taken over maintenance and management of some of Dibra’s assets, including the property in Beacon Falls, said the decision to deny the application wasn’t logical, and decided by a group of people with no knowledge of the tax ordinance itself.

“The fact that Dibra’s (application) was approved by the Board of Selectman but denied by the public vote suggests the ignorance of the voters and begs the question did the people of Beacon Falls sincerely deny our application because they had adequate knowledge regarding tax revenue, commercial growth, prosperity and they genuinely believe this was bad for the town? Or was this decision solely political? Something is not right,” Bledi Trepca said.

The ordinance, which was approved in March, is part of the town’s renewed efforts to boost economic development in town, spearheaded by the Economic Development Commission.

Economic Development Commission Chairman Jack Betkoski spoke in favor of what Dibra has done for the town. He pointed to the property at 107 South Main St., which Dibra purchased at a tax sale in November 2017, as an example.

According to Betkoski, the property was blighted before Dibra purchased it.

“When you go by now it is clean and it looks better. [Mario Trepca] is going to renovate the whole place. That whole stretch is going to look beautiful. We appreciate everything he does. Certainly as a commission we support that,” Betkoski said.

Bledi Trepca said Dibra plans to appeal the vote to deny the company’s application.

“If our application is not granted we will pursue all legal options until a decision is properly justified,” Bledi Trepca said.

It’s unclear whether the vote can be appealed.

In a subsequent interview, First Selectman Christopher Bielik said he reached out to the town’s legal counsel to see if the company can appeal the decision.

While he waited for word from counsel, Bielik said he’s concerned about the message voting down the application sends to other businesses considering building in Beacon Falls.

“I stand behind the statements I made at the town meeting that the application was certainly within the scope and guidelines of the ordinances as it was written,” Bielik said. “I am concerned an outside business looking at this result will not understand why, if you have a qualified application, you would be denied.”

5 COMMENTS

  1. I agree with BRHill’s comments regarding Trepca’s performance as a landlord. What he is referring to is a no-heat call by Project Purple – an ex-tenant – which took an inordinately long time to rectify. Why a tenant such as this was left without heat for so long raises many questions. Any of us in the same situation would be absolutely irate.

    The response needs to be much quicker – overnight the parts if necessary, and make sure your tenant is fully aware of the status.

    I think this matter, and Project Purple’s understandably livid response to it, weighed heavily in the voters’ decision.

  2. Unbelievable!

    They don’t even try to hide their questionable behavior. The DTC as a whole supports this behavior by showing up and publicly speaking in favor of this administrations actions. It’s time for the good Democrats of Beacon Falls to be informed of what their representatives are doing before they go to the polls and blindly support these incompetent leaders.

    Beacon Falls needs a responsible administrator who will truly represent the people of Beacon Falls and not the party or business owners who support them.

    Where are you First Selectman 2019?

  3. Last evening, Sept 26 at a Special Meeting of the Beacon Falls Board of Finance, the Dibra application was resubmitted. The BOF after discussion centered on the fact that there is no appeal process built into the Incentive Program, and primarily because the Legislative Body – you – voted not to approve the original application, voted unanimously to deny the application.

    The interesting and somewhat confusing part of the discussion was the very impassioned comment’s made by 1st Selectman Chris Bielik supporting the validity of this application. His actions and comments since the original denial raise questions. There is already a cloud over the close relationship between Dibra and members of the Bielik administration. The 1st Selectman’s comments & actions last evening as he verbally attacked me for the comments I made as a resident and taxpayer, lend more credence to a suggestion I received that an independent investigation of this administration by the State Attorney General’s Office may be in warranted.

  4. As one of the voters in attendance I find Trepca’s comments appalling. I know full well how our tax code works and how our town is trying to build business. This is not how you gain the confidence and support of the citizens/tax payers of Beacon Falls. What Trepca fails to notice or take ownership of, is his lack of understanding of the town’s people’s wants and needs.

    What influenced my vote is Trepca’s inability to be an appropriate landlord that maintains businesses in our town, instead of driving them out. Goldenrod on the other hand has maintained and operated out of Beacon Falls. They are not just filling up properties with other people’s businesses.

    Furthermore Trepca would only be profiting off of this. The business or businesses who plan to go into his building (pending a second hook up and his ability to pay for it) do not receive this tax cut, while they are the real people who are generating revenue for our town and creating actual jobs. THIS is why I personally voted for Goldenrod whose plan outlines job growth while helping Beacon Falls prosper.

    It seems odd that the Democratic Party is choosing to ignore/by pass the vote of the people. It is shameful, unethical, and proves that they are not impartial in this decision. The voters and have spoken and it needs to be upheld.

    If I were a company looking to build and operate in Beacon Falls (which I have thought about) I would see that this tax break is taken seriously and respected by the town, not just handed to someone who slapped together an application. The fact that the voters approved Goldenrod’s application and not Trepca’s dictates the type of companies and business we want in town and should be respected and upheld.

  5. So the people say yes to Goldenrod and no to Dibra, what makes this political? What I see as political is the questionable overly positive support from the Democratic Party. It’s no secret the connection this company has to the current administration.