Already approved by the House and Senate, House Bill 5424 was set to allow Farmington and four other towns to delay the projected effects, including a sizable tax increase, resulting from the real estate revaluation now underway. That is, until Gov. Dannel P. Malloy vetoed the legislation Wednesday, saying he refused to make a special exception for the towns or allow them to use outdated property values.
Farmington state Rep. Bill Wadsworth, along with representatives of Norwich, Windham, Stamford and New Britain, sponsored the legislation, proposing to give towns the option to delay the implementation of the new property values, which are currently being assessed, for one year.
“Obviously I’m disappointed,” Wadsworth said. “The legislation was permissive. That means the town could analyze the results of the revaluation and certainly consider the impact it would have on the grand list and have the option to delay the imposition of the revaluation - and the built-in tax increase of 4 to 5 percent.”
Wadsworth and others authored a similar bill last year, which failed.
“Our initial intent was to delay it five years, so we’re back on the 10-year program, which would have the additional benefit of not having to spend the half a million dollars to do revaluation,” Wadsworth explained.
In addition to the considerable cost of hiring a company to send assessors to tour and evaluate each property in Farmington, some have projected the new values would result in a sizable property tax increase for residential property owners, possibly up to 10 percent.
“We were concerned about the anticipated disparity between commercial and residential real estate values and the expectation that commercial properties would lose value at a substantially greater rate than residential,” explained Farmington Town Council Chairman Jeff Hogan, adding that 26 percent of the town’s tax revenue is generated by commercial properties.
“We felt if we could defer the implementation, with the economy and Jackson Labs, that disparity would be less,” Hogan said.
The town is mostly through with the process of revaluation, though inspectors are continuing to visit properties and collect data, Town Manager Kathy Eagen said Thursday. The new values will be used to calculate the October 2012 grand list and impact 2013-2014 town budget.
“We never made a decision to defer revaluation,” Eagen said. “We just wanted the option. We’re prepared to go and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Hogan underlined that the town always takes a conservative approach in preparation.
“We never count on the state to come through. This is an example of, when we could reasonably believe it was a done deal, they pulled the plug,” he said.
Malloy wrote a two-page veto message, explaining his position.
“I believe that delaying a regularly scheduled revaluation for just these communities, and not for other communities that are similarly situation, is unfair and that, regardless, delaying a revaluation at this time might exacerbate, rather than mitigate, the problems that Connecticut communities face in these uncertain times,” Malloy wrote.