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Property tax bill pits GOP, Dems against each other online

A bill before the state’s General Assembly would change the way property taxes in most municipalities are assessed, and it has pitted Republican and Democrat lawmakers against each other online.

Senate Bill 999 would change property tax assessments across the state to 75% of a property’s value, up from the current rate of 70%. That would add $5,000 per $100,000 of assessed value to your property tax equation, though actual property tax rates are set by cities or towns in a mill rate.

For example, if you own a house in Brookfield, which has an assessed value of $200,000, you currently pay an annual property tax of approximately $3,623.20 ($140,000 X a mill rate of 25.88 / 1,000). Under SB 999, your property tax would increase to $3,882 per year, about a $250 increase, assuming the mill rate remains constant.

Municipalities can, however, choose to lower the property tax mill rate to offset the increased assessment amounts, keeping actual property taxes even.

Properties in Hartford are excluded from the bill because the city’s property taxes are set separately from the rest of the state.

According to a fiscal note attached to the bill by the Office of Financial Assessment, the change would potentially add $27.6 billion to grand lists across municipalities in the state (again, excluding Hartford). A Grand List is an assessment of the total taxable value of property in a town. The bill would notably not add that amount of money to the actual tax revenue created by property taxes. 

The fiscal note also says that the bill would add an average of 8.6% in revenue to each municipality (excluding Hartford).

Republican lawmakers have lambasted the bill for raising property taxes in a state that already has some of the highest in the country.

“There it is,” said Connecticut State Republican Chairman Ben Proto in a statement posted to Twitter. “After the pomp and circumstance over election-year gimmicks, Connecticut Democrats have unveiled their true tax-and-spend plan. Forcing municipalities to raise property taxes to fund a Hartford money-grab is wrong, it’s backhanded, and taxpayers, particularly low-income and middle-class taxpayers are the ones who will pay the price.”

Democrats have pointed out that the Republican stance incorrectly equates the 5% assessment increase with a 5% total increase.

“There is no tax increase in SB 999.” the party said in their own statement on Twitter. “Please, CT GOP, ask any mayor what a grand list is and how they and the finance board determine a mill rate.”

The bill would also mean a cost to cities and towns for software updates and notices sent to property owners. It would also result in a cost to the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) which oversees the PILOT grant program. Those grants are administered to cities and towns based on assessed value, which would be increased under the bill. The fiscal note states that the program would increase by approximately $15.8 million based on current rates.

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Tricia Ennis

An Emmy and AP award-winning journalist, Tricia has spent more than a decade working in digital and broadcast media. She has covered everything from government corruption to science and space to entertainment and is always looking for new and interesting stories to tell. She believes in the power of journalism to affect change and to change minds and wants to hear from you about the stories you think about being overlooked.

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