NORWALK, Conn. — Some Norwalk political notes for you:
- Tax sale keeps Norwalk’s numbers on track
- Unbagging meters
- SoNo Collection opening
- Restaurants can use adjacent land
Volume down 40 percent, numbers hold
Norwalk’s tax levy was 98.12 percent collected at the end of April, “really right where we need to be,” Tax Collector Lisa Biagiarelli told Common Council members Thursday.
“Part of the reason for this was because we did everything early,” she said; work on the tax sale began in November and liens were filed March 12. The biennial tax sale is on hold due to the Governor’s orders, but Norwalk has collected $2 million from 47 properties, according to Biagiarelli.
The volume of transactions is down 40 percent, given the COVID-19 closure of City Hall but the dollars are holding, Biagiarelli said. Chief Financial Officer Henry Dachowitz largely agreed with her assessment, though he said, “tax dollar collections are down about 10 percent.”
“I think for this year, we’re kind of OK,” Dachowitz said.” And my gut is telling me that it’s the question of access. It’s not economic impact of COVID, that ‘I don’t have the money,’ I don’t believe.”
Finance Committee Chairman Greg Burnett (D-At Large) asked when the tax sale will be held. Biagiarelli said it’s up to the Governor and circumstances. It will take four or five months for the process to work its way through.
“I don’t know that having a sale in the middle of the winter is a good idea. And if it were that late, I would probably just wait and have the sale next summer,” Biagiarelli said. “But if we needed to get the money in right away, if we had a very dismal summer collection period with the current taxes, then we would step it up, and we would have it whenever we needed to have it in the fall or in the winter.”
There are people who think their taxes should be reduced and/or collection activities halted because of COVID-19, Biagiarelli said.
“We have to sort of gently explain that it really doesn’t work that way, because the city has obligations and you’re expecting services to be provided that are funded 90 percent by property taxes,” she said.
The tax sale has nothing to do with COVID-19.
“They were past due and delinquent already, before any of us even knew what COVID was, and they’re not going to be affected by COVID in any way,” Biagiarelli said. “They’re not going to be reduced. They’re not going to be forgiven. There needs to be no doubt about that. Those taxes are still due.”
SoNo Collection General Manager Matt Seebeck hopes to reopen the mall May 20 or shortly thereafter, Mayor Harry Rilling told the Parking Authority last week.
“They have in place a very comprehensive plan of physical distancing, safety, sanitization and other things. They’re very good at what they do because they have so many other outlets around the country,” Rilling said.
The Parking Authority resolved last week to remove the plastic bags covering parking meters, ahead of ending the free parking policy.
This is set for Wednesday, May 20, and what happens after that is undecided. Parking Authority members noted that some motorists will pay the unbagged meters, possibly necessitating subsequent refunds, as no policy will have been set until at least May 27 when the Authority reconvenes.
“The governor’s executive order indicates that if a restaurant has another piece of property that’s not necessarily contiguous to the restaurant property, the restaurant can serve there,” Rilling told the Parking Authority.
Such as, the overflow parking lot Harbor Lights uses in East Norwalk.
“It would impact the Parking Authority if we were to open up a street and use some of the parking spaces on Washington Street for tables,” Rilling said.
And, “If they serve alcohol, they must also serve food. They can’t just serve alcohol.”