Bridgeport Revalutations and Possbile tax increase
Posted in the Trumbull Forum
#1 Feb 28, 2014
utting off implementation of new property values in Bridgeport for two years may be the right thing to do to spare a certain segment of the city's population a crippling blow.
A larger underlying issue, though, is that the system for revaluating property in Connecticut is long overdue for change.
In this digital age, there should be a way for automatic adjustments to property values, whether its on an annual basis, at the time of sale or whatever other criterion might be germane.
Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch -- and others, by the way, who are not necessarily supporters of him personally -- want permission from the state to put off the new valuations, dramatically depressed as a result of the economic collapse that began in 2008.
So dramatically depressed, the supporters say, that the city's tax rate of 41.855 mills could spike to somewhere near 60 mills to generate the money needed to run the city and provide municipal services.
The impact on personal property tax bills and motor vehicle tax bills would be severe, such that some small businesses already operating at the edge of a precipice could be pushed over -- and out of business or out of the city.
And one of the long-standing inequities of the tax structure in Connecticut is the way motor vehicles are taxed.
Here's an easily digestible example: If you live in Greenwich, where the tax rate is 10.675 mills, and you own a Honda, say, valued at $5,000, your tax bill on that vehicle is $53.37.
If you live in Bridgeport, the tax on that very same car is $209.27. And if you believe the warning about the spike to 60 mills carries any weight, the tax on that $5,000 Honda would jump to $300.
It may not sound like much to some, but in a city like Bridgeport, where more people own cars than homes, the impact is serious.
The problem with these long delays between revaluations is that whenever they eventually occur, somebody's ox is getting gored. There's never a right time. Throw in the election cycle, and there's all sorts of room for suspicion and complaint.
Once you've decided you're really not going to stick with a system straying from it can be seen as capricious. And when you say it will be better in two years, the question could be asked, "Better for whom?"
And, of course, though trends may indicate a direction, anyone who can see with certainty two years hence would be smart to jump with both feet into the stock market.
It's true, though, that Bridgeport, with its glut of foreclosures in the fallout from 2008 saw property values dive. To put an excruciating load on the poorest of city residents, and to do something that would adversely affect job-producing businesses, whether existing or prospective, does not seem wise.
But to anyone who wants to see what these dire numbers look like, City Hall should make them available. It could bolster support for a delay. But the whole system needs change.
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