Fifteen property owners living on Forest Road and Cedar Terrace have gotten a stay on paying $11,830 a piece over 10 years at five percent annual interest for a water main extension into their neighborhood seven years ago. Town Council members first want a breakdown of the bills, which may lead to reductions across the board.
On Monday night, the council voted unanimously for a stay on paying a $1,500 lump sum that would have been due on March 31. However, Tax Collector Manny Cambra said special assessment liens will still be placed on the properties on April 1, with the exception of any who decide to pay off the whole amount sooner.
If someone pays the entire amount and it is later determined that the bill should be lower, Cambra said the homeowner would be reimbursed for the difference.
Unlike a tax lien, Cambra said a special assessment lien does not have an adverse effect on one's credit rating. A tax lien also does not allow people to take out a reverse mortgage and Cambra thinks that is not the case for a special assessment lien.
The liens will be used as a placeholder to protect the town in its effort to collect payment from the agreement between the Town Council and the neighbors. For seven years, the town had failed to bill them for the work done by Aquarion Water Co.
Town Attorney Jack Fracassani said the town paid two paving companies $82,963 and that Aquarian returned $44,331 to the town for paving and $3,840 for lateral hook ups. Rather than having the water company patch the road during its work, the town had decided to re-pave the road at the same time.
Fracassini will contact the two paving companies and figure out if any of the work had to do with the water main and will talk to former public works director Art Baker. He said he will have all of the payment information within two to three days.
A meeting will be scheduled between First Selectman Steve Vavrek, the neighbors and other town officials sometime in April to discuss the final figures.
If the numbers are different, Cambra said he will remove the liens and replace them with new assessment liens reflecting the more accurate numbers.
Neighbors attending the Town Council meeting said they do not oppose the liens, but want the town to hold off on them until there is agreement on the amount they will owe the town.
Town Councilman Frank Lieto made the motion to grant the neighbors a stay on payments and interest penalties until the numbers are firmed up, and it was amended to direct the tax collector to send letters to the residents saying that no payments are owed until the Town Council takes further action.
It passed unanimously.
Prior to the vote, Town Councilman Nick Kapoor made a motion to rescind a council motion from Feb. 13 instructing the tax collector to bill the residents and to place liens on their properties. Kapoor said he believed the process had been rushed and wanted to work with the neighbors on exactly what is owed first.
Councilman Tony Unger argued that Cambra had already taken action on the Feb. 13 motion when he sent out letters on Feb. 29 billing them and starting the clock on the placing of the liens.
Kapoor's motion was defeated by a vote of 6-3, with only fellow Democrats Dee Dee Martin and Raymond Knapp siding with Kapoor.