Before Thanksgiving the town’s new assessment of your property could be in your mailbox.
Assessments of nearly all the properties in Farmington have been done and the town is currently inputting the new data into its computer systems, according to Assessor Linda Arnold told the Town Council Tuesday night.
Arnold’s office, in conjunction with the two private companies contracted by the council, is almost finished with the process of the mandatory 2012 revaluation of all the town’s real property.
Representatives of the companies conducted the revaluation over the past year by knocking on each door in town to inventory the property and determine its current value.
They’ve returned with the data and are inputting new information into the computers, Arnold explained. A final review of the values will be done in October. Then, in mid-November, notices will be sent to property owners giving them their new assessed value (70 percent of actual value).
“What we do is put what the old assessment was and then the new assessment. We don’t put the calculations in. People can do that,” Arnold.
Then property owners will have the opportunity to meet with representatives of the companies to challenge or correct the assessments. Final values will be turned over to the assessor’s office in January, when Arnold’s office will put together the town’s grand list.
And the grand list will be the key to determining how much taxes you’ll pay.
“So if I know my value went down 30 percent, it’s good news if the grand list went does 10 percent. But if it went down 50 percent, I’ll be paying more taxes,” explained councilor John Vibert. “The message we need to be giving people on the street is that you need to understand how your value changed compared to the town as a whole.”
And while there’s been some speculation that the tax burden will shift to residential property owners as commercial property values drop more than residential, Arnold said she has not seen that so far and it has not been the case in some other towns.
“From what I have seen, I don’t believe that to be true but I’ve seen only a small portion of the total,” Arnold told the council, noting that some taxpayers in other towns have seen decreases in tax bills after revaluation.
Ultimately, however, the number of tax dollars raised will not be affected by the revaluation.
“We’re talking about property values going down and real estate taxes going down, but we’re still going to need the same number of dollars to run this town and we’re going to get it from the same group of taxpayers” said councilor Charlie Keniston. “And even though values going down [residents] have to have in mind that they’re still going to pay as much or more than they did in taxes last year in the coming year.”
The council has the option, granted in legislative special session and authored by Gov. Dannel Malloy, to phase in the new values – either by dollar amount, ratio or ratio by property class. The Farmington council had hoped to defer the revaluation implementation instead.
West Hartford chose a phase-in, which Council Chairman Jeff Hogan described as “an unmitigated disaster.” Councilor CJ Thomas commented that “phasing in just confuses people.”
Hogan said they would wait to decide whether to opt for a phase-in during next year’s budget process.