Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Enfield Fed Tax Break In Play

Town Council wants changes in Enfield Federal tax break

By Anne Pallivathuckal
Journal Inquirer

ENFIELD - Unhappy with a proposal to modify the town's tax-abatement agreement with the Enfield Federal Savings and Loan Association, the Town Council on Tuesday again delayed a vote on the proposal.

Council members asked town officials to draft a revised proposal that would reduce the abatement in proportion to the reduction in the number of jobs the bank is creating in town.

The council had tabled the issue once before, at a special meeting in August because not all the council members were present.

The proposal the council was to vote on Tuesday would have reduced the duration of the agreement, approved by the council in 2005, from seven years to four.

It also called for the bank to pay property taxes on 50 percent of its new building's assessed value during the first year of the agreement, the fiscal year that starts next 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."

During the next two years, taxes would have been paid on 41 percent of the building's assessed value, then 37 percent in the final year.

Enfield Federal, operated by New England Bancshares Inc., built 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 agreement 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, state Rep. Kathy Tallarita, D-Enfield, is a bank employee.

Ragno works at Rockville Bank.

Council members were divided on the proposal to modify the tax abatement.

Deputy Mayor Kenneth Hilinski said he supported the modified agreement, citing concerns about the effect on the town's future economic development if the council didn't pass it.

Councilman Scott Kaupin, the Republican minority leader, said that he supported the modified proposal reluctantly. Kaupin said that the whole situation has been a "debacle," adding that no future abatement should come before the council after the fact.

Councilman Ken Nelson said he supported the original agreement. But since there was a miscommunication between town and bank officials about the number of jobs being created at the Enfield branch, Nelson argued, the tax break should be modified proportionately to the reduced number of jobs being created.

"I think that's fair as can be," Nelson said, adding that he couldn't support the proposal as it was written.

Council members William "Red" Edgar and Brian Peruta said that they couldn't support the modified proposal because it is a major change in policy.

If the council modified the original agreement, Edgar said, "then it takes the teeth out of the employment issue of every abatement we've given."

Council members William Lee, Cynthia Mangini, and Patrick Crowley supported the proposal, with Crowley arguing that the modified proposal is just rectifying a mistake that had been made due to miscommunication.

"We made a mistake. Let's fix it," Crowley said.

Nelson moved to table the issue, but the motion initially failed because six votes are needed and only five council members voted in favor. But Crowley then reconsidered his "no" vote, and a second motion to table the issue passed unanimously.

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    Anonymous said...

    > Crowley arguing that the modified proposal is just rectifying a mistake that had been made due to miscommunication.

    > "We made a mistake. Let's fix it," Crowley said.

    Quick, someone mark this day on the calendar. Enfield Council members admitted they made a mistake.

    Perhaps with upcoming elections, some of these folks (who are running again) have decided its best to admit their mistakes, then to continue on like they
    always know what's best for the people of Enfield.

    Anonymous said...

    >Quick, someone mark this day on the calendar. Enfield Council members admitted they made a mistake.

    There was no mistake made. The only mistake was doing this for the bank in the first place. I heard the mayor lined up the votes but couldn't get them when it really counted. Edgar, Peruta, and Nelson should be making ready for the retribution.

    Kudos to those guys for doing the right thing. Keep up the good work.

    Anonymous said...

    Well, Enfield taxpayers will have to scrape together some more loose change to pay for the Town's next $100+K position (new chief tech officer). Can't believe the town
    needs to hire someone to tell them how to run things. How have we survived this long, without such?

    Anonymous said...

    >> There was no mistake made. The only mistake was doing this for the bank in the first place.

    Which is it, was there a mistake or not. The above posting is rather confusing ("no mistake", & "the only mistake"). Talk about talking out of both sides of one's mouth. Spoken like a true politican!

    Anonymous said...

    Why is it that the town government always has to be on the losing side of deals?

    Be it getting pennies on the dollar for the prison sewage (for which the State of Connecticut should have paid up in full), or getting a fractional return on the 36-acre campus of Asnuntuck Community college, it seems like Enfield is always the loser.

    If this were the business world, there would be no renegotiations or second chances.

    And quite frankly, the underhanded, dirty way that Enfield Fed has handled the thing makes them even less deserving.

    It's smoke-filled back room politics- the super-secret negotiations and leaks of personal information.

    I'd suggest that Enfield Fed shouldn't get any tax breaks until it takes steps to restore public confidence by explaining how the security breach happened and what the bank is doing to fix the problem.

    Ultimately, it's become "beating a dead horse" because Enfield Fed let it get that way. They're a bunch of fat rich bankers desperate to get their big tax break. They want to stay rich by screwing over the little guys with foreclosures and interest rate hikes. I have no respect for that.

    concerned resident said...

    Erosion on Gordon Lane

    I have been to the town council meetings since 1980. I have been surprised more than once about the great wisdom of our Mayor and the council members. Let me rephrase that-Some of our council members. On the agenda of the 9/4/07 meeting, our first meeting for weeks, (the mayor needed the summer off) the discussion for the 9 Gordon Lane erosion problem; that has been going on for 20 years, Yes 20 Years!!! There was very little discussion. It was tabled to be discussed in the future. Why has it been 20 years that my neighbors have been slowly losing their back property? My Goodness lets table this so we can discuss something more important-a tax abatement for the Enfield Federal Savings Bank! That’s definitely more important that your taxpayers losing their property to erosion for over 20 years! After paying taxes to this town for over 25 years this is how you are treated. It seems to me that our town is more focused on the rich getting richer than on the average citizen paying taxes. I am not a rocket scientist, and it should not take a rocket scientist to figure out that the people that we paid to put in water drains on Hazard Ave should have done some type of research to see if the water draining would cause erosion in the back yards of Gordon Lane. The money to fix this problem was allocated in 2005. Our wise Mayor decided to put it in another kitty, which I’m sure has been spent by now! My Goodness, I hope it wasn’t spent to cover another tax abatement.

    Councilman Cindy Mangini wants to make sure one and all that come into our Town feel welcome and get all the help they need from this town. Maybe you have seen the new signs at the town borders. That’s right Enfield Taxpayers, we will bend over backwards to help any newcomers but what does this town do for the residents that have paid taxes for over 55 years. Obviously nothing!!!!! So, speak out Enfield Residents and help one of our own residents on Gordon Lane in Hazardville. Let your council member know that this is not right! Just think someday it might be your property that is wasting away due to something the town thought was a good idea!

    I hope that the reason for ignoring this problem is not because we are residents of our Beautiful Hazardville. Which in my opinion we are the orphans of the town. I love my Hazardville, but my taxes are for all of Enfield. So I hope the next time all the wonderful residents of Enfield are looking out over their property they will think about the injustice to these people on Gordon Lane and place a call to their council member to help these people and protect future problems for all homeowners & taxpayers in Enfield.

    Anonymous said...

    Seems whoever sanitized the public record of the meeting was either a member of the KGB (Town's distribution appeared in Russian type), or using a really old PC with poor font support. Hmmm...

    Councilman Nelson agreed.
    Councilman Ragno stated as far as he is concerned, the discussion is different than the vote itself.
    Councilmen Maxellon, Ragno and Tallarita excused themselves from the discussion and did not sit with the Council.
    Councilman Peruta stated he does not want to approve this tonight and then tie the hands of future Councils because they set a precedent.
    Councilman Mangini stated her belief an injustice has been done to Enfield Federal Savings, and she feels this never should have come to this.
    RESOLUTION #9349 by Councilman Mangini, seconded by Councilman Crowley.
    Enfield Federal Savings Tax Abatement
    copy appended
    MOTION #9350 by Councilman Nelson, seconded by Councilman Lee to table this resolution.
    Upon a SHOW-OF-HANDS vote being taken, the Chair declared MOTION #9350 defeated 5-3-0, with Councilmen Crowley, Mangini, and Hilinski voting against the motion.
    MOTION #9351 by Councilman Hilinski, seconded by Councilman Mangini to take a brief recess.
    Upon a SHOW-OF-HANDS vote being taken, the Chair declared MOTION #9351 adopted 8-0-0, and the meeting stood recessed at 10:28 p.m. The meeting reconvened at
    10:30 p.m.
    MOTION #9352 by Councilman Crowley, seconded by Councilman Peruta to reconsider the motion to table the resolution.
    Upon a SHOW-OF-HANDS vote being taken, the Chair declared MOTION #9352 adopted 7-0-0.
    MOTION #9353 by Councilman Nelson, seconded by Councilman Lee to table the Resolution.
    Upon a SHOW-OF-HANDS vote being taken, the Chair declared MOTION #9353 adopted 7-0-0.
    Councilman Hilinski requested Mr. Coppler take a look at the amounts and ramp them back proportionately from 39 to 20 employees so that the reduction is proportionate in nature.
    Councilman Crowley suggested the time line also be looked into.
    Item 10 b. will be addressed at the next Council meeting.

    concerned citizen said...

    it's no suprise the the Enfield Federal got the tax abatement. Councilman Crowley & councilwoman Mangini would vote for anything even if it cost the tazpayers millions. The loyality they have to the Mayor clouds their vote. The rest of the council are wishy washy! They also voted this in. The only one who was on the side of the taxpayers was Red Edgar!!! Thank You Red Edgar!!!! Red Edgar is the only one who really cares for the Enfield Taxpayers!!! tAXPAYERS!!!