Hot Real Estate Market Drives Higher-Than-Expected Revenue for Town Through Conveyance Fees

The strong local real estate market is driving higher-than-budgeted revenues in one area at Town Hall, officials said Tuesday. The high number of property transfers in New Canaan is translating into conveyance fees for the municipality, town CFO Lunda Asmani told members of the Board of Selectmen during their regular meeting. Through the first two months of this fiscal year (July and August), conveyance fees collected stand at $524,000 compared to $330,000 for the same period last year and $200,000 for 2018, Asmani said. “So it’s almost double what we have seen historically,” he said during the meeting, held via videoconference. 

The comments come as real estate professionals report historically low inventory in New Canaan, and an August where the number of single-family homes more than doubled from the year-ago month. Many have attributed the rise in home sales to young New York City families seeking top public schools and less congestion amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Town ID’s $695,000 in Planned Capital Spending This Fiscal Year That Could Be Delayed

Saying New Canaan should consider putting off some capital spending in the near term until a clearer picture of the economy emerges, town officials last week identified nearly $700,000 earmarked for the current fiscal year that could be delayed. Prepared with input from public works and district officials as well as the first selectman, the draft list of more than 75 items total $695,000 and range from small expenditures such $29 for signage and striping up to about $63,000 for a solar project at a town building, documents show. Board of Finance Chair Todd Lavieri said the main question now facing the town is whether the spending could be delayed or deferred “until we have a little more clarity.”

“You guys control this,” Lavieri told First Selectman Kevin Moynihan, Public Works Director Tiger Mann and town CFO Lunda Asmani during the finance board’s April 7 meeting, held via videoconference. “We can’t tell you what to do and how to do this. But I guess it would be our recommendation, or at least our consideration, to hold onto the spending at least for another month until we got more clarity.”

The comments came during a discussion within the finance board and no formal action has been taken on the recommendation. They also came as New Canaan and the nation grapple with a hard stop to the economy that’s seen businesses forced to slow down or shutter altogether for health reasons as unemployment claims soar.