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Council Approves Money For Vehicle Tax Recovery



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It’s been a long time coming, but the Legislative Council at its May 1 meeting approved a $100,000 appropriation to cover the costs of Capital Tax Recovery’s (CTR) efforts to locate vehicles residing in Newtown but registered out of state.

The vote passed 9-3, with Democrats Keith Alexander, Jordana Bloom, and Heather Dean voting against.

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.

The town’s contract with CTR will pay CTR a $50 fee per car plus 45% of the first year’s taxes. The original contract before CTR withdrew only called for 40%.

First Selectman Jeff Capeci told the council that he spoke with Danbury Mayor Roberto Alves about his experience with CTR, as well as officials from Brookfield and Bethel, and said there had been “no complaints.”

Capeci also addressed a concern that CTR would be getting almost half of the potential tax revenue brought in by finding out of state registered vehicles, but Capeci noted, “that’s only the first year.” Following the first year, the town gets the full tax revenue.

While Bloom said she agreed in principal that people should pay their taxes, she had privacy concerns for residents who may have their vehicles validly registered out of state, and also opposed the 5% increase in the contract.

The withdrawal in February was controversial, with some councilmen, such as Chris Gardner and Ben Ruben, pointing towards a number of questions submitted by other councilmen, particularly those by Steve Hinden, who resigned from the council soon after.

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.

CTR withdrew its contract without answering any questions, which Bloom expressed concern over.

“They didn’t want to answer the questions, we should pay the same,” said Bloom. “We should be in the driver’s seat here.”

Dean said she was “fundamentally not comfortable with surveilling residents” and asked if it was possible to withdraw from the contract if residents are not happy.

Capeci said it would be possible to withdraw if CTR was in breach of contract, and the contract was also only for one year.

“We are looking for scofflaws and I take offense to them not paying their taxes. I pay mine, you pay yours,” said Dean. “But I think we had valid questions [that were unanswered by CTR].”

Dean also had concerns for residents who may end up wrongly accused.

Councilman Ben Ruben said there was a process for residents even if wrongly accused. While the initial step is to contact CTR, once CTR makes its decision, it goes to the town assessor before the final decision is made. Ruben noted that if a resident didn’t feel they were getting a fair shake from CTR, they could still address it with the town.

“It comes to the assessor before any money is paid,” said Ruben.

Councilman Tom Long said when his house was reassessed, people came to his property to take photos and observe any changes to the property, while a CTR agent with a license plate scanner is not nearly as intrusive. Councilman Chris Gardner agreed, noting the tech to scan license plates “was already in town” with the police department.

“To me, it’s fundamentally a fairness issue,” said Gardner. “We’re recouping money that should be paid. We are requiring people to follow the law.”

With the funding approved, it is unclear when the contract will go into effect and when CTR agents will begin scanning license plates.


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

The town has officially hired Capital Tax Recovery to locate vehicles residing in town but registered out of state.
Comments are open. Be civil.
  1. jlccyoung says:

    I was the recipient of such a invasion of my privacy when my daughter was visiting her boyfriend in Waterbury. They tried to get me to pay them taxes instead of Newtown. They were rude, offensive and threatening and I had to call the mayor of Waterbury to finally get it cleared up after being threatened. It was a long drawn out process to get this overturned. Are we that broke that we have to turn our residents over to these mercenaries? This is beyond belief. How dare you hire these rent a cops to harass and threaten us?

    1. talger says:

      You have Capital Tax Recovery confused with a different company, Municipal Tax Services. Municipal Tax Services works with the City of Waterbury. That was discussed at a previous counsel meeting.

  2. tomj says:

    It is a shame but yes, we are so broke… The NIMBY crowd will not allow any new development so there is no ability to add to the tax base… got to hire strangers to park at our schools, and grocery stores and sneak around on our property to ensure our kindergartners Spanish class doesn’t get canceled.

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