Oxford officials will tell the public today how they plan to exonerate thousands of residents wrongly identified as delinquent taxpayers by a former tax collector accused of stealing more than $670,000 from the town.
First Selectman George Temple and Town Attorney Kevin Condon will hold a press conference at 2 p.m. today at to discuss the course of action they have taken that show more than $10.2 million in back taxes is owed by more than 2,000 people.
Temple says the 41-page list, which includes interest and penalties, names several people and businesses who paid in full and on time, but their names are still recorded in town tax records as delinquent because former
Since identifying the list in February, the town has taken several steps to clear the names of many people who have proof of payment, Temple said. Still, he said, the town needs a court ruling to tell officials exactly how to deal with this issue - including how to exonerate people who claim they paid but have no proof of payment - because state statutes are not clear on this issue. Last week, the town filed a declaratory judgment lawsuit at Milford Superior Court that asks a judge to tell the town how to rectify the situation. The lawsuit names the state Office of Policy and Management, which deals with property tax issues, as a defendant.
“The state is a necessary party because it’s a case of malfeasance,” Temple said. “It’s something that we’re doing to put the state on notice that we have a problem that the statues don’t address because something like this has never happened before.”
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that the list was not accurate and that the town was going to work toward correcting it. He released the list so that people could find out if their names were on it and then work to resolve the issue with the current tax collector, Cayenne Spremullo, who was elected in November and had nothing to do with Guillet’s alleged crimes.
Taxpayers, some who were angry that their names were on the list and/or that the list was publicized, went to Town Hall to show proof that they paid. Many taxpayers didn’t have proof because the list went back some 15 years and they had gotten rid of receipts. Spremullo made note of hundreds of people who had proof of payment. But, by law, their names still could not be taken off the list, which is a main reason why the town is seeking advice of a judge.
Condon, the town attorney, stated in a letter to a judge that “in certain cases, the Board of Selectmen and the tax collector may be required to excuse, abate, forgive, modify, or enforce the collection of said taxes.”
“While the town charter is clear along with the Connecticut state law that a municipality has the power to levy taxes, it remains unclear to what extent taxes may be modified, excused, or abated,” the letter states. “Therefore, it may be in the best interest of the Town to seek an opinion from the Superior Court dis-positive of the issues of collection, forgiveness, or modification of property taxes.”