Attorney General's Opinion
Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal
October 12, 2004
Robert S. Rudewicz
Director of Operations
State Marshal Commission
765 Asylum Avenue
Hartford, CT 06105
Dear Mr. Rudewicz:
A recent inquiry from the City of Waterbury has brought to our attention that some marshals are charging a fee of fifteen per cent of the amount of taxes collected for the service of alias tax warrants under Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-261 as amended by Public Act No.03-224. It is our opinion that the statutorily authorized fee to charge for executing such tax warrants is ten percent of the amount of taxes collected, as provided in Conn. Gen. Stat. § 12-162. Any amount charged by a state marshal in excess of the statutorily authorized amount must be reimbursed to the affected taxpayer. The commission should require audits of these accounts and take appropriate action to ensure that taxpayers are fully compensated for their overpayments.
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-261, as amended by Public Act No. 03-224 provides in relevant part:
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 12-162 provides, in part, as follows:
We note that Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-261 as amended by Public Act No. 03-224 generally discusses fees and expenses of officers and persons serving process. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 12-162, on the other hand, specifically governs alias tax warrants. By its terms, Section 12-162 controls reimbursement for the service of alias tax warrants, “notwithstanding the provisions of section 52-261.” “It is a well-settled principle of [statutory] construction that specific terms covering the given subject matter will prevail over general language of the same or another statute which might otherwise prove controlling.” Plourde v. Liburdy, 207 Conn. 412, 417 (1988). In this case, the General Assembly has expressly directed that the specific terms of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 12-162 prevail over the general terms of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-261.
It is also our opinion that to the extent that an executing officer has charged and collected a fee of fifteen per cent for executing an alias tax warrant, it was done without any legal basis. Accordingly, any marshal who charged more than 10% of the proceeds must repay to the taxpayer any excess fees charged beyond the amount permitted by Conn. Gen. Stat. § 12-162.
The Commission should exercise its statutory and regulatory authority to review the records of state marshals who have executed alias tax warrants during the period from 2003, when Public Act 03-224 became effective, to the present to determine whether unauthorized fees were charged. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 6-38e requires the State Marshal Commission “to periodically review and audit the records and accounts of the state marshals.” Section 6-38b-6 of the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies sets forth the standards of conduct for state marshals. It states, inter alia, that state marshals must maintain up-to-date records that identify all fees collected and disbursed, and make their records available for inspection by the State Marshal Commission upon request.
The Commission should also ensure that any excess fees that were charged by state marshals for the service of alias tax warrants are returned to taxpayers. Appropriate action should be taken by the Commission against any marshal who refuses to return any excess fees or fails to account for these funds. Section 6-38b-8(b) of the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies provides in part: “The commission may suspend or revoke the appointment of a state marshal when it determines, after due notice and hearing that the state marshal: ...(6) Misapplied or misappropriated money or property; or … 8) Failed to account for funds.”1
1The Commission may also suspend or revoke the appointment of a state marshal for any conduct that could harm or otherwise impugn his or her professional reputation, standing or integrity, including violations of section 6-38b-6 of the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies. Section 6-38b-8(c) of the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies.