Business Government

West Hartford Grand List Grows Slightly

West Hartford Town Hall. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

West Hartford’s Real Property and Motor Vehicle lists increased by less than 1 percent, while the Personal Property list increased by 1.6 percent.

West Hartford Town Hall. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

West Hartford Town Hall. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

By Ronni Newton

The 2015 Grand List, which reflects all changes in ownership and valuation of taxable and exempt properties, showed slightly more growth between 2014 and 2015 than it did the previous year.

“It’s not a huge increase, but it’s twice the growth we had last year,” Town Manager Ron Van Winkle said. Some of the growth is the incremental increase in value for projects that are currently under construction, and those projects should have a much greater impact next year as well as in future years.

Any growth in the Grand List helps offset the impact on taxpayers, Van Winkle said.

“The Delamar Hotel will probably be valued at about $30 million, but right now just its foundation is included in the assessment. That will be online in the next tax year,” Van Winkle said.

The Arcadia Crossing apartment complex, which will be valued at more than $100 million, will have a sizable impact on the town’s overall real property values. Construction should be underway throughout 2016, with the project likely to be included at its full value in the 2017 Grand List. “We haven’t seen $100 million in growth – ever,” said Van Winkle.

A letter from Director of Assessments Joseph Dakers to Van Winkle dated Jan. 29, 2016, reported that West Hartford’s total Grand List for 2015 is valued at $5,981,347,789, an overall increase of $34,209,653 or .58 percent. The values do not take into account any Board of Assessment Appeals revisions, Dakers said.

The Real Property portion of the Grand List grew by .54 percent ($28,938,266) – nearly twice the growth it had last year, with growth attributable to new commercial and residential construction as well as increases to existing property values as a result of remodeling projects. New construction that impacted the 2015 Grand List includes 32 condominium units at Quaker Green, the mixed use building at 11 South Main St., and the new apartment building at 24 North Main St.

The total value of motor vehicles registered in West Hartford increased by $2,483,267, or .60 percent, despite what appears to be a total decrease in vehicle count of 547. Dakers wrote in his letter that the “anomaly appears to be attributable to the challenges DMV is experiencing with their software conversion.” He anticipates that the issue, which impacted more than 60,000 registrations throughout the state, will be resolved before tax bills are mailed in June.

The Personal Property list grew by $2,788,120 or 1.6 percent, after remaining virtually unchanged in last year’s comparison. Dakers attributes the growth to 90 new businesses “and new capital purchases of furniture, fixtures and equipment (FF&E) that continues to exceed annual depreciation on existing reportable assets.”

Blue Back Square, valued at $75,658,380, is West Hartford’s top taxpayer, followed by Westfarms and CL&P (now Eversource). The remainder of the top 10 are Corbins Corner, Town Center West Associates (29 South Main St.), Bishop’s Corner (E&A) LLC (2523 Albany Ave.), McCauley Center Incorporated, E & A Northeast Limited Partnership (333 North Main St.), Prospect Plaza Improvements LLC (245 Prospect Ave.) and Westgate Apartments LLC (1248 Farmington Ave.).

The Grand List is just one component of the town’s budget – the first step in the process of determining the mill rate for the upcoming fiscal year. The budget will be submitted to the Town Council on March 8.

Major drivers in this year’s budget include $2.6 million which must be added to correct an actuarial error in pension funding, as well $500,000 to $600,000 in expenses resulting from compliance with the state’s MS4 stormwater program that includes extra street sweeping and cleaning of catch basins.

The current mill rate for the FY 2015-2016 budget adopted on April 30, 2015, is 38.31.

The mill rate for automobiles will be capped at 32 mills beginning in FY 2016-17 for all municipalities in Connecticut based on the most recently-adopted state budget. That will impact one of the areas where West Hartford usually sees growth.

“They’re supposed to reimburse us for the loss,” Van Winkle said, but it appears that the town will ultimately lose about $100,000.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s most recent budget exempts the first $10,000 of business personal property from local property taxes, and would cost West Hartford between $500,000 and $600,000 in lost revenue. Van Winkle said that change will likely impact the town in FY 2017-18.

“With what’s going on in the state, we are increasingly shifting taxes from businesses and other sources to homes,” said Van Winkle. “The taxes on homes will go up. We will have to make it up somehow or cut.”

The Town Council will adopt the FY 2016-17 budget on April 26, 2016.

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