Former Torrington tax collector’s settlement coming to an end

TORRINGTON – The city’s settlement with former tax collector Robert Crovo, after years of audits, several lawsuits and taxpayer complaints, comes to an end as the city receives installments for tax refunds collected during of its mandate.

Crovo was a private collector in Torrington from 1999 to 2015. The town’s collection system uses a contract collector, a procedure he has followed since the 1920s, officials say.

The fight between the former tax collector and the city escalated around 2013, when Crovo, citing breach of contract, sued the city, claiming he was allowed to keep overpaid taxes from landlords if they were not claimed. The city said all refunds should have been returned to residents or the city.

A forensic audit in 2014, carried out by an outside body on behalf of the city, revealed irregularities in the tax collector’s methods. The audit showed that while he was following the terms of his contract, he was not following state laws by not depositing the collected funds on behalf of the city, as he was mandated there, but using an account professional in his name; that he was reimbursing overpaid taxes on his own checking account, which is also not permitted by state law; and that he was prohibited from collecting interest on taxes paid in November and May of a fiscal year, a violation of local law, according to the audit.

The former collector said the retention of overpayments was part of a negotiation between himself and the taxpayers and was “the course of transactions between the city and its collector for decades,” according to the settlement document. the city.

The Crovo office has been the subject of several complaints of poor customer service over the past year; a forensic audit of his office and books showed that 56 complaints were filed against the tax collector’s office from February 2013 to September 2014, according to a 2014 article in the Register Citizen.

In 2016, the city hired Launa Goslee as the new tax collector and took legal action against Crovo to recover overpayments from 2010 to 2013, in accordance with the city’s settlement agreement, provided by the personnel manager Jaime LaMere.

“I can’t comment on this at all, for legal reasons, but it has been fixed,” LaMere said this week.

In the original lawsuit, city officials said Crovo held $ 492,843 in overpayments from taxpayers collected in the 2010-13 tax years and $ 90,000 in risk taxes collected in its last. year.

In the absence of outstanding reimbursement requests in 2010-2011, the city subsequently processed overpayment reimbursement requests for 2012 totaling $ 40,248.68 and for 2013 totaling $ 85,899.48, i.e. a total of $ 126,148.16. Crovo pays this amount in installments, according to the settlement document provided by LaMere.

Earlier this year, Torrington reached an agreement with Crovo to resolve a lawsuit brought by the city over property tax overpayments. The settlement called for Crovo to pay $ 126,148.16 in refunds owed on the 2012 and 2013 major listings to an escrow fund. Crovo is paying the amount in installments and paid $ 63,074 in November. The remaining funds will be released at a later date, but no specific date was available in city documentation. If the sum is not fully repaid, according to the settlement, Torrington can take legal action to recover it, according to the settlement.

Crovo does not have a listed phone number in Torrington and could not be reached for comment.

The regulations also include a non-disparagement condition. “The City agrees not to, directly or indirectly … Make or cause to be made any remark or statement, oral or written, about Crovo or the Settlement Agreement that a reasonable person would consider derogatory, negative derogatory, defamatory and / or false, including such statements or communications which allege in any way that Crovo has acted unlawfully… or which gave rise to liability, ”according to the document. “Nor will the city encourage, directly or indirectly … city employees or third parties to make such prohibited remarks about Crovo or the settlement agreement.”

The by-law also states that the condition applies to any current or future mayor, city council, company attorney’s office, tax collector’s office, and assessor’s office, during their tenure and after they leave office.

Esther L. Steinbach