Revaluation, as expected, sinks city’s Grand List

February 16, 2013

By KAITLYN NAPLES
STAFF WRITER
Bristol saw an increase in its grand list in 2011. However, that scenario is not the same for 2012. But the drop, with the recent real estate property revaluation, is not entirely unexpected by the city.
The grand list, which measures the net assessment for property in the city in real estate, motor vehicles, and personal property, dropped by 12 percent this past year to $3.7 billion thanks to the revaluation.
The change in assessment of a single-family home dropped by nearly 21 percent since the last revaluation in 2007, and dropped by 25 percent for a two- to five-family home, which may be a good thing for some homeowners who will most likely see a decrease in property taxes this year.
In a recent interview on revaluation, City Assessor Tom DeNoto said since 2007 the situation has made a “360 degree turn,” and homeowners should be expecting an average of a 15 percent decrease in real estate value, likely shifting the burden onto commercial property owners.
The city’s motor vehicle net assessment dropped as well, by 0.8 percent, or nearly $3 million, to $360 billion.
Residents will likely see an increase on their motor vehicle tax bill this year. Even if there is a mill rate increase that isn’t enough to make a dent in a property tax bill, vehicle owners will probably see an increase on that tax bill. DeNoto said ever since the “Cash-for-Clunkers” program began, new car sales have declined drastically. He said the Supplemental Motor Vehicle tax list, which is for vehicles that were registered between Oct. 2 and July 31, has increased by 7 percent in the last two years. The cars that fall under this tax list are usually replacement ones or downsizing.
The mill rate, currently 28.75 mills, is based on the grand list and deficit spending. The grand list is 80 percent residential and 20 percent commercial. There are about 21,141 taxable parcels in the city.
Bristol did, however, see an increase in value of personal property, by 2.2 percent or a little over $5 million. DeNoto said there is a straight depreciation method used which is set by state statute where 10 percent is lost on the methodology. ESPN, Hewlett Packard, and Connecticut Light & Power were the top companies responsible for the increase in the personal property category.
DeNoto said CL&P saw a $6 million net increase due to what he believes is from Hurricane Irene cleanup. Also, ESPN is “constantly making campus modifications,” he said, which is also responsible for the increase. Hewlett Packard leases computer systems to ESPN, so he said it was “one in the same.”
ESPN continues to be the largest taxpayer in the city, with a total assessment of $316.7 million or almost 8 percent of the grand list. Covanta Bristol came in second with a total assessment of $45.9, and CL&P as the third highest with a total assessment of $40.6 million. The top ten companies in Bristol had a total net assessment of a little over $4 billion.
The city relies on four sources of revenue: grants, licenses and fees, investments, and taxpayers. When the city is preparing its expenditures, or budget, for the next fiscal year, it sets a total. The total revenue is expected to balance out the total of expenditures. The city learns what the revenue from grants, license and fees, and investment totals will be, and then after the grand list is released, a tax levy is determined, which is what the taxpayers will pay, collectively.
Overall, DeNoto said “it finally appears the market is refreshing from the 2006 boom.” He said between 2002 and 2006 the real estate market was “unaffordable for the mass majority.” The recession, while it has brought values down, has also made homes more affordable. DeNoto said he has been seeing more and more consumers refinancing and those who are purchasing homes are seeing lower interest rates and lower mortgage rates. He said Bristol has many properties in the real estate market that have been kept up, which is good for the city in the long run.
“We’re faring very well here in Bristol in regards to state averages,” he said, adding that Bristol is “poised for a rebound” in the real estate market.
Taxpayers who want to appeal their new assessments have until Wednesday, Feb. 20, to file with the city’s assessor’s office. Forms are available on the assessor’s page on the city’s website, www.bristolct.gov/assessor, or in the assessor’s office on the first floor of City Hall, 111 N. Main St., Bristol. Assessment Appeals will consider those appeals next month.
Top Ten Assessments
Taxpayer   Total Assessment  % of grand list
ESPN   $316,748,520 7.91%
Covanta Bristol  $45,991,410 1.15%
Connecticut Light & Power Co.  $40,687,710 1.02%
Bristol Center LLC.   $32,758,530 0.82%
Federal Realty Investment Trust $22,149,120  0.55%
Winstanley Enterprises  $21,738,710 0.54%
Carpenter Realty Company $20,800,280  0.52%
Barnes Group Inc.  $16,633,060 0.42%
Festival Fun Parks   $16,205,150 0.40%
Theis Precision Steel        $15,573,430 0.39%
Comments? Email knaples@BristolObserver. com.

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