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Capital Tax Recovery Returns To Table, Asks For 5% Increase



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First Selectman Jeff Capeci, at the Legislative Council’s March 13 meeting, reported that Capital Tax Recovery (CTR) is willing to return to the table to negotiate a contract with the town, after leaving negotiations in February following council disagreement on the issue.

CTR is a company that sends out private investigators with plate readers who check plates around town, on the roads, in driveways, and in parking lots, with a purpose of finding cars garaged in town that are registered out of state. In addition to catching cars registered out of state, they catch unregistered vehicles as well. Brookfield and Danbury currently contract with CTR for its services, and Newtown was attempting to “piggyback” onto Danbury’s contract, according to Finance Director Bob Tait.

After breezing through approvals by the Board of Selectmen and Board of Finance late last year, an appropriation for $100,000 to cover CTR’s fees up front ran aground at the council level, as some members were expressing misgivings on bringing the company to town and members made repeated requests for more information at council meetings in January.

In a letter received from CTR representative Bryan Fischer, CTR’s stated reasons for ending its interest in working with the town were “Legislative Council’s concerns, the low population density, and my experience with similar towns.”

Councilman Steve Hinden, the most outspoken critic of bringing CTR to town, resigned from the council in the aftermath of CTR’s withdrawal. While no vote was taken at a February 7 council meeting, the consensus among members was that Capeci should speak with CTR in an attempt to bring them back to the table, which Capeci says was now successful.

Capeci said he talked with Fischer in February; he hadn’t heard anything further for several weeks and was “getting nervous.”

“It took time,” said Capeci.

Capeci noted that the issue will have to go through the full process again, starting with the BOS and wending its way through the BOF and council, because CTR is asking for a slightly higher fee — 45% of the initial tax recovered instead of 40%. CTR gets paid by taking a percentage of the first year’s tax on the recovered vehicle, but once the vehicle is on the tax rolls, further years’ taxes all go to the town.

Capeci said that the $100,000 appropriation to cover those fees up front — mostly a bookkeeping issue favored by Finance Director Bob Tait to prevent the money from having to be re-withdrawn from the general fund after collection — will likely not change to cover the five% increase, “and if it does, not by a significant amount.”

Capeci said he often talked with Brookfield First Selectman Steve Dunn about their experience with CTR and said Brookfield had “no complaints.”

“They do their work very professionally,” said Capeci. “If residents feel like they are being surveilled, the first person they’ll complain to is the first selectman. But Brookfield cannot say enough good things about [CTR].”

The withdrawal in February was controversial, with some councilmen, such as Chris Gardner and Ben Ruben, pointed towards a number of questions submitted by other councilmen, particularly those by Hinden.

The questions included asking why CTR is involved in contacting residents during the beginning portion of the process; why CTR is involved in assessing the validity of disputes; how well is CTR capitalized, including wanting to see a balance sheet; a request for details on background checks and what qualifications they have, and asking for names and titles, education and pay of all employees; and if employees would receive any incentives for finding improperly registered vehicles.

With CTR returning to the negotiating table, it is expected to go back before the BOS in the near future. The Newtown Bee will continue to follow the story then.


Editor Jim Taylor can be reached at jim@thebee.com.

Capital Tax Recovery has returned to the negotiating table to potentially help the town get vehicles registered out of state onto the tax rolls.
Comments are open. Be civil.
  1. bw.reloconsult@snet.net says:

    The questions being asked are good. CTR was only registered as a corporation three years ago. Mr Fischer is more than a representative, he is the President. He also is the President of a private investigation service that handles all types of investigations, you can just imagine some. Based on Danbury’s results our saving might be $30,000, lets make sure the “investigation of all our resident car owners” is worth the down side issues with this program

    1. qstorm says:

      Getting tax cheats to comply with the law is not a one-time savings. It is a revenue stream as long as the people and their cars are in town.

    2. tomj says:

      You think the selectman would have checked the proposed legislation on the docket before spending $100k. I think a better question for CTR would be if they will refund the $100k if the car tax is phased out…

      1. qstorm says:

        Regular property tax would be increased to make up the loss of car tax. No winners here except the car tax cheats who got away with it for so long.

        1. tomj says:

          The benefit to wrapping it into property tax is that even after CTR leaves cars will be registered back out of state. Fundamentally it is an impossible law to enforce, why not remove the law and ensure tax flow continues?

  2. joeynewt says:

    Is spying on your neighbors just to catch a few bad apples worth it?

    1. qstorm says:

      They have their hands in all their ‘neighbors’ wallets.

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