Momentum growing for city's revaluation delay
Posted in the Trumbull Forum
#1 Feb 22, 2014
BRIDGEPORT -- The city's effort to delay its 2013 property revaluation -- and a potentially brutal tax hike -- has jumped the "Shark."
House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, traditionally an opponent of revaluation postponements, has backed Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's bill allowing Bridgeport and 47 smaller municipalities to delay revaluation with the hope that property values increase over the next two years.
"We have experienced a depressed housing market over the last several years that has artificially taken a toll on property values. This in turn would require larger mill rate adjustments than what has been historically normal during revaluations," Sharkey said in a statement Friday. "The Governor's plan makes sense because it gives the markets a chance to level out, and evens the playing field for all communities across the state."
That's a far cry from Sharkey's position in mid-January, when a spokesman said the Speaker would consider Bridgeport's arguments, "But it tends not to be something he's in favor of."
Malloy, a Democrat who as mayor of Stamford sought his own revaluation delays and as governor has vetoed them, offered his current proposal earlier this month in his two-year budget address.
While the proposed delay still needs to wind its way through the Legislature's committee process before it reaches a vote by the Democrat-controlled General Assembly, Sharkey's support is a positive sign.
Under state law, municipalities must conduct property revaluations every five years. Bridgeport tried and failed to obtain a delay last year, and was forced to go ahead and hire a company last fall to move forward with the work.
Mayor Bill Finch, another Democrat, made it clear earlier this year that the revaluation results would not be good. Despite some success in luring new businesses and developers to the city, the Finch administration expected an overall decline in property values.
Those declines, coupled with the related mill rate increase, would be a potentially disasterous combination for the Finch administration as it heads into the municipal budget season.
"The impact of this revaluation would have a serious negative impact on our home-ownership rates, and could drive much-needed economic development out of our region," Finch said in January. "The state of Connecticut has invested millions of dollars in housing, jobs programs, brownfield cleanup and economic development in Bridgeport that would be seriously compromised."
It wouldn't help Finch's chances for re-election in 2015, either.
Historically, property revaluations can be politically toxic in Connecticut, and for years politicians -- Democrats, including former Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim, and Republicans -- would jump at the chance to delay them.
But abuses led, in part, to the new five-year cycle.
"It is a political hot potato," said Bonnie Stewart, vice president of government affairs for the Connecticut Business and Industry Association. "People see their new values come in, some can be upset because it's lower. Others can be upset because they think they have to pay higher taxes. It's surprising how many emotions revaluation brings out."
Stewart said CBIA believes the best approach is an annual revaluation, but admits that's both expensive and unlikely.
"Putting off revaluation is never a good idea," she said.
But, Stewart acknowledged, there has been talk in Hartford that Bridgeport might be a special case.
"I do know a lot people ... are looking at Bridgeport a little bit differently," she said. "I do know they're concerned with trying to maintain their commercial entities within the city, which I can understand."
However, delays for one city or town are not popular with state officials.
Since: Aug 10
#2 Feb 22, 2014
Another story that prove that there is still Corruption in Bridgeport. Shame on the mayor.
Since: Mar 11
#3 Feb 22, 2014
Actually, the article reveals the financial corner these democrats have spent us in to.
Since: Aug 10
#4 Feb 22, 2014
Right again my friend.
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