$80,000 tax break for bank
By Anne Pallivathuckal
ENFIELD - The Town Council on Monday approved a revised three-year tax abatement plan totaling about $80,000 for Enfield Federal Savings and Loan Association.
The approved plan reduces the original abatement, approved by the council in 2005, in proportion to the reduction in the number of jobs the bank is creating in town.
The original agreement in 2005 called for a seven-year abatement plan with a total tax break of about $148,000.
The revised plan passed Monday in a 7-1 vote, with District 2 Councilman William "Red" Edgar voting against it.
In the revised plan about $26,500 in taxes would be abated each year of the agreement.
It also calls for the bank to pay property taxes on 43 percent of its new building's assessed value during the three years of the agreement, which starts in the fiscal year beginning July 1.
The building is assessed at $1.9 million, which, like all Connecticut property-tax assessments, is 70 percent of the building's appraised "fair market value."
Enfield Federal, operated by New England Bancshares Inc., leases the 19,051-square-foot, two-story building on the corner of Elm and Enfield streets.
Under the original agreement, property taxes would have been paid on 30 percent of the building's assessed value during the first year of the agreement. During the next six years, that percentage would have increased steadily to 35, 45, 55, 65, 75, and 80 percent of the assessed value.
Towns use tax abatements to entice economic development and job growth.
The original tax abatement agreement called for Enfield Federal to add 39 full-time positions over the course of the agreement.
But after the abatement was approved, bank officials revealed that the new positions would be spread over various branches and offices, including those in other towns.
Now bank officials have made a commitment to creating 21 new full-time positions in the new building at 855 Enfield St.
Mayor Patrick L. Tallarita and Councilmen Douglas Maxellon and William Ragno disqualified themselves from discussing and voting on the proposal.
Maxellon holds stock in the bank, and Tallarita's sister, Rep. Kathy Tallarita, D-Enfield, is a bank employee. Ragno works at Rockville Bank.
Town Manager Matthew W. Coppler said Monday the number of jobs created would be counted from when the bank opened.
The approved plan also included an amendment that said the town would not count employees who were working for Enfield Federal 12 months prior to the opening of the facility on Enfield Street.
Councilman Ken Nelson said the amendment would ensure that there are new hires at the Enfield branch, and not just employees transferred from the bank's other branches.
Nelson, who had advocated the proportionate decrease in the abatement, said Monday, "I feel this is a very fair compromise for them."
Edgar voted against the abatement plan saying, "It's still a major policy change."
Edgar argued that approving the plan would then open the door for other companies that have received tax abatements to come back later to the council and ask that the abatements be modified.
Town Attorney Christopher Bromson said he did not think approving the revised Enfield Federal agreement would set a precedent and that it was "unique" since a resolution was passed by the council in 2005 but no formal agreement was signed with the bank.
Nelson agreed, saying that since bank officials disclosed the change in the number of jobs being created at the Enfield branch before signing an agreement, this was a different situation.
Councilwoman Cynthia Mangini also asked town staff to develop a procedural plan for the council on criteria for evaluating tax abatement proposals.