Ansonia Mayor James Della Volpe issued a written statement Friday saying the city has formed an internal “fact-finding” team to look into “recent matters concerning the collection of property and motor vehicle taxes” in the city.
The statement is posted at the end of this story.
The fact-finding team — labor attorney Francis Teodosio, Corporation Counsel Kevin Blake and Robert Jaskila, a city auditor — has until Aug. 8 to investigate and complete a written report, according to the statement.
The internal review comes two days after a Valley Independent Sentinel story raised questions about car tax “clearances” issued by Ansonia Tax Collector Bridget Bostic.
The tax collector repeatedly declined to talk to the Valley Indy about car taxes or tax collection in general.
A Valley Indy investigation showed that four people — including a person who shares Bostic’s last name — received documentation saying they had paid overdue motor vehicle taxes.
However, those same people were listed in Ansonia City Hall as not having paid their car taxes.
Three of the people who received the clearance either work for Ansonia or volunteer on a city board.
The tax clearance document is meant to be given to people who are behind on their car taxes and can’t renew their vehicle’s registration.
If the person comes to City Hall and pays their back car taxes, the tax collector gives a clearance document. The resident then takes the document to the state Department of Motor Vehicles as a proof of payment so that the DMV will allow the vehicle’s registration to be renewed.
The Valley Indy report revealed people received the clearance even though they hadn’t paid car taxes in years.
As of June 28, the four residents owed Ansonia $16,666 in back car taxes.
The Valley Indy report also showed that 30 employees and city officials owed the city about $50,000 combined on all types of taxes.
Finally, the city hasn’t sent an updated list of delinquent taxpayers to the state DMV in two years.
“Any necessary personnel and other actions that need to be taken will be done so following the conclusion of this report to me,” the mayor’s statement read.
In an interview with Della Volpe Friday afternoon, the Valley Indy asked why an outside agency was not being asked to investigate the matter, since it involves public officials.
Della Volpe said if the internal review indicates an outside agency is needed, Ansonia will bring in an outside agency.
The internal review follows the methodology the city has used in the past, such as when a fire chief was using a city space for a private business.
“This is the way we’ve done it in the past and it has worked,” Della Volpe told the Valley Indy. “I have all the confidence in the integrity of these three men.”
Bostic, the tax collector, has been reporting to work as usual, the mayor said.
This type of issue would not fall under the jurisdiction of the state’s Attorney General’s office but could, possibly, be probed by the Chief State’s Attorney’s Office. However, that agency, which investigates criminal matters, does not comment on whether they are conducting investigations.
Della Volpe’s full statement is listed below.