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Friday, October 29, 2004

Town Reduces Taxes on Backlogged Permit Bills by $300,000

Westport has written off about $300,000 of the $2.6 million it had hoped to collect as a result of processing of backlogged building permits dating from 1998, town officials said today.

Tax Collector George Underhill said of about 1,000 bills mailed out last month, 152 had adjustments made that resulted in reduced revenue of about $300,000.

Assessor William Gaffney said in a few cases there were errors on the bill regarding the way it was computed, but he said most of the adjustments had to do with taxpayers challenging the date of completion of their building projects.

“If they tell me they did not finish a project until a certain date, I just have take their word for it,” Gaffney said. “There’s no way of verifying it.”

He said when the bills went out, the town had to estimate how much time elapsed between issuance of the building permit and the date of completion the time when the clock started ticking on additional taxes due.

While provisions were made for taxpayers to make extended payments on the backlogged bills, only five taxpayers have requested such payments, the officials said.

Earlier this month, some of those hit with the bills due to the backlogged permits met to consider a class action suit against the town, contending that it did not have the legal right to collect the back taxes.

Meanwhile, Gaffney said plans are proceeding for the full physical revaluation of properties with inspectors from a firm hired to do the job expected to hit the streets sometime in mid-November.

“They’ll be moving in to Town Hall next week and I expect them to be out on the job soon after that,” he said.

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Posted 10/29/04 at 08:33 PM  Permalink



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