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Norwalk political notes: Collecting taxes, raising awareness and a partial Board

A man bids in the Norwalk tax sale, July in Concert Hall. (File photo by Harold Cobin)

Updated, 1:23 p.m.: Information about permit event added.

NORWALK, Conn. –Some Norwalk political news for you:

  • Autism awareness
  • Tax liens issued
  • CNNA elects three as ‘executives’
  • ‘A nostalgia plan’
  • Special events and school rentals permit signing event planned

 

‘Reduce the stigma and raise awareness’

You are encouraged to wear blue today and throughout the month in recognition of Autism Awareness.

Seventy million people around the world are affected by autism according to a City press release announcing Norwalk’s plans to observe Autism Awareness Month.

Norwalk officials will present a proclamation at 6 p.m. today, Tuesday April 2, at the “Light It Up Blue” event on the town green, the release said.

“Norwalk is a community dedicated to ensuring those with special needs receive the information, education, and services they need and deserve to reach their full potential,” Mayor Harry Rilling is quoted as saying. “This is our commitment to all children and families. I hope the public will join us on Tuesday for this special event.”

“Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication,” the release explains. “World Autism Awareness Day was created by a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly in 2007 to educate people worldwide about autism spectrum disorder. According to Autism Speaks, autism affects an estimated 1 in 59 children in the United States and more than 70 million people globally.”

“While much has been done to reduce stigma and raise awareness, we still have work to do to create a broader understanding and acceptance of people with autism,” Rilling is quoted as saying. “Early detection and intervention can help improve the quality of life for those with autism. Declaring April World Autism Awareness Month in Norwalk is a way to begin the conversation to help make more people aware of autism and how it impacts families in our community.”

 

The tax collection process

Norwalk Tax Collector Lisa Biagiarelli and the Town Clerk’s Office have filed 900 liens for unpaid real estate taxes and/or sewer use charges on the grand list of 2017.

The liens were filed in March, for taxes that were due in July or January.

“A lien is an encumbrance, or a claim, against property;  in this case against real estate,” Biagiarelli explained in a Monday email. “It basically ‘stakes our claim’ against that property for the amount of the taxes that are due, and gives public notice of that.  Our lien is a superpriority lien, meaning, it supercedes other liens – even the internal revenue service and other governmental agencies, as well as mortgages and other encumbrances.   We rely on our lien(s) when it is time to conduct a tax sale.”

She provided a total of liens filed in the past five years:

  • March 2019 : 900 liens filed March 28
  • March 2018 : 930 liens filed March 19
  • March 2017:  950 liens filed March 17
  • March 2016:  1,052  liens filed March 14
  • March 2015:  1,056 liens filed March 25

 

Why is it dropping?

“Hard to say,” she replied. “Maybe because we have fewer boat slips – because we gradually ‘tax saled’ them (the Greyrock at Oysterbend / East Greyrock marina boat slips).   I believe that happened over the course of the past five or six years.   At one time, we were filing 50+ liens every year just at that marina, because each boat slip necessitated  a separate lien.”

In addition, the biennial tax sale is efficient and may also encourage compliance, she said.

“We did, at one time, file about 1,400 liens, so being down to between 900–1,000  is an improvement,” she wrote. “I believe there are nearly 28,000 parcels in Norwalk.”

“We are required to send a ‘notice of intent to lien’ prior to filing our liens,” she wrote. “This year, we did that at the end of February 2019 in conjunction with our semiannual delinquent tax billing.”

 

CNNA moves forward

The Coalition of Norwalk Neighborhood Associations, under the leadership CNNA Provisional Executive Committee Chairperson Donna Smirniotopoulos, has worked for nearly a year to reorganize.

Elected to the Executive Board, according to Isabelle Hargrove, were:

  • Adolph Neaderland representing the Norwalk Association of Silvermine Homeowners (NASH)
  • Isabelle Hargrove representing the West Norwalk Association (WNA)
  • Donna Smirniotopoulos representing Friends of Quintard (FoQu)

 

The new CNNA bylaws state that the executive committee “shall consist of 5-7 designees from constituent associations or groups. No association or groups may have more than 1 member on the Executive Committee.”

“Additional vacancies will be filled at upcoming meetings as our constituent associations identify suitable candidates,” Hargrove wrote Wednesday.

In May, NancyOnNorwalk heard some charge that the group had been “hijacked” for political purposes, and that there weren’t enough interested activists to fill the executive committee because people were disaffected.

“CNNA has had a very successful year, featuring four well-attended panel discussions and culminating in the passage of bylaws at the January meeting,” Hargrove wrote Wednesday. “We are excited to build on this success in the coming year.”

 

 

‘Not giving up’

NancyOnNorwalk briefly attended that CCNA meeting, and heard some discussion about the West Avenue-Wall Street Neighborhood Plan.

“The people have no voice,” Neaderland said, opining that residents who don’t want multi-story apartment buildings are being ignored.

Common Council members need to be responsive, Heather Dunn said.

“The only way to change the culture that now exists is to change the people, come November,” Neaderland said.

“I did find some elements of the discussion portion of the Common Council meeting last week to be performative governance rather than actual governance,” Smirniotopoulos said. “They give every appearance of having rehearsed it during the caucus or at some other time. They were aware of some concerns. I appreciate that they attempted to get answers to address some of the concerns that people shared with them but it did strike me and some others as more performance than genuine conversation.”

A limited number of Council members have had lengthy discussions on the Committee level.

Smirniotopoulos said the results were disappointing, but it was time to move on.

“I haven’t given up,” Neaderland said.  Under Robert’s Rules of Order, “if any one of the city Council members asks for reconsideration then the whole plan has to be put forth again. Personally, I am carrying on a campaign of trying to educate the Common Council people that it’s a bad plan,” he said.

 

City invites event organizers to one-hour event Monday

The City has scheduled a Special Events and School Rental Permit Signing for Monday, April 8, from 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. in Norwalk City Hall in Room 231.

“City Departments will be present to sign off on applications for upcoming events. Permit applications can be found online,” a Tuesday press release said. “The front page of the application form, with notarized signature, should be completed in advance of coming to this event. For questions, please contact Donna King at [email protected]

7 comments

Al Bore April 2, 2019 at 9:57 am

With the current administration and council everything is done behind closed doors, the public is invited to speak and then public input is dismissed because the decision was already made behind the closed door. Norwalk is over crowded with too much traffic, more apartment buildings, illegal apartments, a new mall when malls are a thing of the past, streets that can’t take anymore cars, home property values that are going down or stagnant at best, companies that are moving out, and continued thoughtless over building. All those above mentioned cost money because the infrastructure can’t handle it so what happens is taxes from the homeowners of Norwalk have to pay for city halls mistakes. Homeowners and businesses in Norwalk are becoming less and less, soon this will be a renters town. Who will be left to pay for it all, not the developers they got tax breaks. The current BOE is proof that when you have qualified people in place a positive difference can be made. We need that in November!!

Bob Welsh April 2, 2019 at 10:08 am

Duplicate comments are not permitted. I have deleted a comment from this thread because it duplicates a comment already posted on another thread.

LadyDrivr April 2, 2019 at 12:05 pm

Oh, now this is funny:
“Donna Smirniotopoulos representing Friends of Quintard ‘(FoQu)’.”
Is that a play on words, ‘(FoQu)’? Because if not…it’s brilliant. Good for you, Donna. I support you!

Al Bore April 2, 2019 at 12:13 pm

I posted today and meant to put it on the current Norwalk political notes page and instead put it on yesterdays, pardon me.

Bob Welsh April 2, 2019 at 12:24 pm

Noted Al. I’ve removed the comment from the other thread and posted the one you submitted to this thread.

Victor Cavallo April 3, 2019 at 5:27 pm

If a separate subgroup of concerned neighborhood moms were to organize against Quintard, would Donna name it MotherFoQu – an inventive term of art and endearment not inconsistent with her prior lexiconic elections? @MJeffrySpahr ?

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