More than 900 taxpayers owe a combined $3.8 million in back taxes to the City of Ansonia.
Ansonia leaders are looking at ways to get some of that money back — even if it means locking “boots” onto car tires so the vehicles can’t be used.
“I would like for something to go forward,” said Board of Aldermen member Jerome Fainer, who brought the issue up at the Feb. 14 Aldermen meeting.
“I can’t see us being owed this much money.”
The Aldermen’s Finance Committee will be talking about the “boot” program at a meeting sometime before March 13, Fainer said.
“If that is what is needed to motivate some people to pay their taxes, so be it,” said Alderman Phillip Tripp, another member of the finance committee.
Do City Officials Owe?
At the Feb. 14 Aldermen meeting, both Fainer and Tripp questioned whether some of the residents who owe taxes are currently serving on Ansonia city board and commissions or were city employees.
Based on the questions raised by Fainer and Tripp, the Valley Independent Sentinel Feb. 15 filed Freedom of Information requests for the tax delinquency list — and a list of all employees and volunteers on boards and commissions to verify the information.
Ansonia officials initially said the public information would cost between $500 and $1,000.
However, city attorney Kevin Blake released the tax delinquency list on Feb. 24.
The city has not released the list of all employees and volunteers as of Feb. 28.
Board of Aldermen President Eugene Sharkey said the city, in response to recent concerns about officials owing back taxes, has sent a letter to all officials notifying them “their taxes need to be paid in full, or their names will be removed from the boards.”
The Valley Independent Sentinel also requested a copy of the letter. It has not been received as of Feb. 28.
“Booting” or towing vehicles has become a popular way to go after people who owe back taxes — often vehicle taxes. Fainer said he’d like to see the program used to reach people who owe both real estate and motor vehicle taxes, but those details haven’t been worked out yet.
This is not the first time Ansonia has talked about using the boot program to collect back taxes. Earlier talks didn’t move forward.
But officials said they wanted to look at the program again.
Alderman Scott Nihill said the program would help get as much money into the city as possible.
As expenses continue to increase, and the city tries to keep the budget stable, the extra money could help. The city’s tax board is currently reviewing a budget proposal that could result in a 6.6 percent tax rate increase for residents, if approved.
“To go after these other people who owe taxes to the city is a good idea,” Nihill said at the Feb. 14 meeting.
As of Feb. 16, the following was owed to Ansonia, according to information provided by the tax office to Jerome Fainer:
949 delinquent accounts
$3,384,819.52 in back taxes owed to Ansonia
Motor Vehicle/Personal Property:
466 delinquent accounts
$429,970.15 in back taxes owed to Ansonia
Fainer said even if half the back taxes were paid, the city could pay for its increased expenses next year without a tax increase.
In December, Ansonia held a tax sale to try to recoup back taxes on several homes.
Six properties were sold — collecting $114,000 towards about $325,000 owed on the homes, according to figures provided by the city’s tax auction attorney, Clifford Hoyle.
Other property owners paid a combined $110,600 in back taxes to avoid their four homes going on the auction block. The purpose of the tax auction was to get some back taxes paid and to put the properties back on the tax rolls.
The previous owners have six months after the tax auction to pay back their full taxes and keep their homes. After the six month period, the homes become the property of the people who won the auction.
The properties sold during the auction, according to the information provided by Hoyle, were:
241 Main St.
Taxes owed: $67,537
Price paid: $20,000
14 Woodbridge Manor
Taxes owed: $14,277
Price paid: $12,000
21 High Acres Road
Taxes owed: $99,624
Price paid: $25,000
35 Silver Hill
Taxes owed: $52,550
Price paid: $10,000
169 Hodge Avenue
Taxes owed: $62,208
Price paid: $18,000
15 Dwight St.
Taxes owed: $29,360
Price paid: $57,000
(the amount paid over the taxes owed goes toward the property owner)