West Hartford’s 2023 Grand List Increases Slightly

West Hartford Town Hall in winter. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (we-ha.com file photo)

Changes in the value of used automobiles led to a significant decrease in the most recent Motor Vehicle list.

By Ronni Newton

The 2023 Grand List has been finalized and submitted to Town Manager Rick Ledwith by Director of Assessments Joseph Dakers, and indicates an overall slight increase of $5,642,357, or 0.08%, with increases in real property and personal property but offset by a drop in motor vehicle values in comparison to 2022 values.

Last year the Grand List grew 0.6% in comparison to 2021 values – and the percentage of growth between 2020 and 2021 was much dramatic and exceeded 12%, because it represented the impact of revaluation which takes place every five years.

The 2023 Town of West Hartford Grand List of taxable and exempt property effective Oct. 1, 2023, which prior to action by the Board off Assessment Appeals totals $7,228,588,979, was finalized in accordance with Connecticut General Statutes and reflects all changes in ownership and valuation, and will become the basis for taxation for Fiscal Year 2025, which begins July 1, 2024.

In a memorandum that accompanied his transmittal of the document to the town manager, Director of Assessments Joseph Dakers provided specific detail by property class, including growth in the Real Property List of $19,014,954, or 0.3%, growth in the Personal Property list of $13,449,331, or 6%, and a decrease in the Motor Vehicle list of $26,821,928, or 4%. The Supplemental Motor Vehicle list – vehicles registered between Oct. 2, 2022 and July 31, 2023 – increased by $8,106,557.

“The $32.4 million increase in real and personal property demonstrates West Hartford’s strong economic growth and prosperity throughout our community, reflecting a vibrant business environment and continued investment by our residents,” Town Manager Rick Ledwith told We-Ha.com. “In addition, we are very encouraged by the positive trajectory of our economic landscape with four projects under construction, four more that have been approved, and two more proposed totaling an additional 1,300-plus multi-family housing units with mixed-use, further reinforcing our position as a dynamic destination for investment and growth.”

Home improvement projects and some other development – including a completed new home at 15 Old Farm Drive, 5 Gledhill Lane, 6 Lilac Terrace, and the sale of former parsonages on West Point Terrace, Lawler Road, and Meadowbrook Road which made them taxable – led to the increase in the Real Property list, but many projects are still in an incomplete state and only a fraction of their value was reflected as of Oct. 1, 2023.

“We’re a year or two away from the grand list growth we’re expecting,” Ledwith said. The developments expected to have a major impact in the near future include additional units at 243 Steele Road, nine townhouses at 409 Prospect Avenue, 920 Farmington Avenue, 950 Trout Brook Drive, and 977 New Britain Avenue where O’Reilly’s Auto Parts is under construction. The redevelopment of the former Puritan Furniture property on New Britain Avenue, a mixed use Transit-Oriented Development at 579 New Park Avenue, and the mixed use Arapahoe development in the Center are all in the pipeline and will ultimately add millions of value to the grand list.

The Personal Property list is related to the businesses that have physical locations in West Hartford, or businesses that “lease, loan, or rent assets to a business with a physical location in West Hartford,” according to Dakers’ memo. The current census is 2,688 businesses.

“We continue to experience healthy investment in furniture, fixtures, and equipment which surpasses annual depreciation on existing assets,” Ledwith said in his report on the Grand List to the Town Council on Tuesday night.

The change in the Motor Vehicle list “represents corrections occurring in the automotive market,” Ledwith said, and is impacting communities throughout the state. He said the significant increase in the value of motor vehicles over the previous two years – which added roughly $115 million in value – was due to the shortage of new cars being produced during the pandemic which drove up the value of used cars.

Dakers said that used car prices have softened, but are still higher than they were at any time before the pandemic, so further decline in value is expected as the supply chain improves and new car inventories increase.

Motor Vehicle Grand List history. Courtesy of Town of West Hartford

Overall, West Hartford’s highest taxpayer is Connecticut Light & Power, now known as Eversource, valued at $62,543,640. Other top taxpayers include the Corbin’s Corner property at 1459 New Britain Ave. valued at $45,500,000; Westfarms, valued at $44,324,610; Bishops Corner SC LLC (Albany and North Main) at $42,892,640; and Blue Back Capital Partners LLC at $37,908,420.

Rounding out the top-10 taxpayers are Town Center West Associates (29 South Main St.) at $29,521,930; SF West Hartford Property Owner LLC (The Corbin Collection) at 1445 New Britain Ave., valued at $28,901,180; Steele Road LLC (243 Steele Rd.) valued at $26,474,880; ALNIC LLC (property occupied by Whole Foods at 50 Raymond Rd.), valued at $23,128,910; and ER West Hartford LLC (apartment complex at 1248 Farmington Ave.), valued at $21,123,890.

Preparation of the Grand List is one of the steps in the town’s budgeting process, and reflects the property values to which the mill rate applies. The current mill rate, as adopted by the Town Council in April 2023, is 40.92 mills for real and personal property, and for vehicles the mill rate is the state cap of 32.46 mills.

West Hartford’s budget for 2023-2024 (FY24) is scheduled to be submitted to the Town Council on March 12, 2024, and adopted in late April.

The following charts were submitted by Dakers to the Town Manager as part of his presentation of the Grand List.

Oct. 1, 2023 West Hartford Grand List residential property categories. Courtesy of Town of West Hartford

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