Though the final numbers are not yet in and the tax rate won’t be set until at least March, fallout in Farmington from the 2012 property revaluation will not be as bad as some had feared, according to town Finance Director Joseph Swetcky.
Two independent companies visited, or at least attempted to visit, and inspect each real property in Farmington to get an accurate assessment in the 2012 market. The process lasted almost a year and now is in the phase when property owners can challenge their new assessments. For information on how to challenge your assessment, click here.
Before the revaluation got underway, local officials and residents alike were forecasting a bleak outcome – with commercial properties decreasing in value far more than residential, resulting in a shift of the tax burden which would cause homeowners to pay more. The impact was expected to be so severe, that the Town Council asked State Rep. Bill Wadsworth to introduce legislation allowing the town to delay its implementation.
But looking at the numbers initially, the situation’s not as bad as anticipated, Swetcky said. To see a list of residential properties and their assessed values, click here.
“It came out pretty well,” Swetcky said Wednesday. “There was a decrease overall but it wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be. On average, residential saw a 12 percent decrease.”
Single-family homes decreased in value by about 11 percent, with condominiums dropping by 13 percent, he said. Vacant property assessments declined by about 5 percent, bringing the combination to about 11 percent less than before the revaluation.
That doesn’t include the commercial values, which are not yet set. Though all the assessments are complete for Farmington’s commercial properties, which now bear a significant amount of the town’s tax burden, the town has given property owners the opportunity to challenge the assessments.
Swetcky estimates those should be finished by next Thursday.
“Notices went out to all properties in town. We’re giving them a chance to come in and meet with the staff about their assessments,” Swetcky explained. “Some want to come in because those are significant any changes could make a significant impact on the grand list so we want to make sure before the finalize the commercial side.”
But “the shift” of the tax burden from commercial to residential property owners will not be as pronounced, Swetcky said.
And it’s important for residents to understand that the change in their home’s assessed value does not equate to a change in their tax bill. How one home changed in value compared to another, the town’s tax rate (to be set later this spring during the budget process) and changes in motor vehicle and personal property assessments will also impact tax bills.
“One big variable is what happens with the state,” Swetcky added. “They’re having budget difficulties. If they decide to cut back on grant revenues, that could impact the tax rate as well.”
But, when reminded of one resident’s warning a year ago that revaluation would result in a 10 percent increase in residents’ taxes, Swetcky concluded, “You’re not looking at a 10 percent tax increase, put it that way. “