February 7, 2007
By DANIEL E. GOREN, Courant Staff Writer
Hartford's 2006 grand list increased 2.36 percent over last year - the rise almost entirely due to a recent revaluation of real property in the city that dramatically boosted values, city officials said.
As of October 2006, the city's grand list was $3.62 billion, an increase of $83.6 million over 2005. The increase, the second in as many years, is because of a revaluation last year that increased property values by 70 percent, city officials said.
But with a new state law setting limits on the city's ability to tax real estate, the amount of that increase to be shouldered by taxpayers was kept in check, holding the increase in real property value to 3 percent, city officials said.
"Almost all of the increase is because we did the revaluation," said Lawrence G. LaBarbera, the city assessor. "Without the revaluation, the grand list wouldn't have changed, really."
The number of tax accounts held almost steady, city officials said, meaning few new businesses moved to Hartford and few homes were built.
But the new state law, designed to protect residential taxpayers from shouldering the large increase in real estate value, kept the grand list from rising dramatically, LaBarbera said. Without the new legislation, the grand list would have risen by 53 percent, to $5.4 billion, he said.
And while the value of real estate increased by 3 percent and the motor vehicle values went up 3.8 percent, the value of personal property decreased by 1 percent, reducing the total growth of the grand list.
The reason for the 1 percent decrease, LaBarbera said, is because businesses in Hartford used 2006 to consolidate and save money, in part by not buying new equipment. The value of the existing equipment at businesses in Hartford is "just depreciating a little bit further," he said.
When analyzing all the property in the city of Hartford, 49 percent, or about $3.4 billion worth, is exempt from taxation. That is up from $2 billion last year. By law, the city can't tax state-owned property, hospitals, colleges and universities, places of worship or nonprofit organizations.
But the tax-exempt numbers are misleading, LaBarbera said, because that property did not increase in value any more than taxable property did. The significant shift occurred because the new law doesn't apply to nontaxable property - so after revaluation, the new values of the nontaxable property were counted in full.
When removing the impact of the new legislation - to "compare apples to apples," LaBarbera said - the amount of nontaxable property makes up only 39 percent of the total grand list, or an increase of about 5 percent over last year, he said. This can be attributed to the completion of the state-owned Connecticut Convention Center and new school construction in the city.
Grand List Total$3.62 billion assessedGrowth over 2005:2.36 percent Top 10 Taxpayers (Assessments):1.Hartford Fire Insurance & Twin City Ins., $143,490,0802.Travelers Indemnity Co. Affiliate, $131,910,4003.Connecticut Light & Power, 110,264,9604.Northland Properties, $89,037,1605.Aetna Life Insurance Co., $71,787,3806.State House Financial, $60,722,1707.City Place I Limited Partnership, $58,119,8108.Talcott II Gold, LLC, $53,598,6809.Bank of Boston, CT, $50,464,82010.FGA Trumbull, LLC, $45,532,480What Changed?Revaluation drove up real estate values.SOURCE: ASSESSOR'S
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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