The Town of New Canaan has completed our latest property revaluations. New assessments have been mailed out to property owners. Mandated every 10 years, this most recent revaluation saw an estimated 25% surge in the total value of properties in New Canaan, known as the Grand List, from $8 billion to $10 billion. This level of increase is unprecedented. Property taxes are calculated through the use of a mill rate.
[Editor’s Note: Leo Mikkola-Patel is a junior at New Canaan High School. “The Grazing Ram” is his periodic column on New Canaanite.]
My previous article described a plan to encourage the town government to allocate funding for the appropriate maintenance of all public cemeteries. After writing that article, I saw the true power and beauty of town government.
I reached out to many organizations and gathered the support of both the Daughters of the American Revolution and the VFW Post 653 . There was also broad community support for this project as evidenced by a petition with nearly 1,000 signatures.
Working with the head of the Department of Public Works, Tiger Mann, administrative officer in the first selectman’s office, Tucker Murphy, VFW Post 653 Senior Commander Mike McGlinn and Danielle Edwards of the DAR, this month we presented to the Board of Finance and Town Council with the goal of garnering support and starting the process of creating an annual budget line for cemetery upkeep.
McGlinn said during the Nov. 14 finance board meeting that “the VFW stands 100% behind this project” and that “one of the principles of the VFW is to honor and remember every veteran, alive or deceased.”
The consensus was that this project is very possible but more work still needs to be done.
The chair of the Conservation Commission this week proposed a new way for the town to help build up its reserve fund for acquiring land to preserve as open space. The Town Council created the Land Acquisition Fund in 2017, prompted by Aquarion’s effort to subdivide and sell a 19-acre parcel at the end of Indian Waters Drive.
Since then, the Fund has accumulated just $150,000, Conservation Commission Chair Chris Schipper told the Board of Finance during its regular meeting Tuesday night. “We looked at 11 years of conveyance fees,” Schipper said during the meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference. He added: “The town can charge a 25 basis point real estate sales conveyance fee through a Connecticut statute that allows it. And the intention, the legislative intention of that statute was the town would use those monies to preserve open space for future generations.
A state Superior Court Judge ruled Tuesday in favor of a local developer’s motion to intervene as co-defendant in the town’s affordable housing-related lawsuit against the state. Despite the town’s objections, Judge Ted O’Hanlan granted intervenor status to the companies that own properties in New Canaan where affordable housing developments are planned. Local developer Arnold Karp is principal at the limited liability companies.
“The court finds that intervenors have demonstrated a valid interest in intervention in this matter,” O’Hanlan wrote in his order, obtained by NewCanaanite.com. The town in December sued the Connecticut Department of Housing, appealing the state’s decision last fall to deny the town’s application for a “moratorium,” or four years of relief from the state statute that facilitated the affordable housing applications (that suit was dismissed). In June, the town sued again, objecting to a “declaratory ruling” from the state agency that bolstered its earlier denial.
Attorneys representing Karp in August filed to become a co-defendant in the case, saying, in part, that he will be directly affected if the town is able to overturn the state’s denial of a “moratorium,” which would grant four years of relief from the state affordable housing law known by its statute number, 8-30g.
The chair of the Board of Finance this week called for the team overseeing the extensive renovation of the New Canaan Police Department to tighten its belt with respect to spending a total of $2.6 million budgeted for contingencies on the project.
That figure—$700,000 in contingency for Shelton-based Turner Construction, which is providing construction services, plus $1.9 million for the town—only applies to the recently set $20 million guaranteed maximum price for the South Avenue project, not for the full $29 million price tag that also includes soft costs such as insurance and creating a temporary police headquarters, according to finance board Chair Todd Lavieri. “I really can’t impress upon you enough how important that is not to be spent,” Lavieri told members of the Police Department Building Committee during the Board’s special meeting, held Tuesday night at Town Hall and via videoconference
“We have to be careful that that’s not really kind of code for ‘it’s budgeted for’ ” he continued. “It’s not budgeted for .. and we can have this meeting again in October, and I can bring you the deck that we went through, and it was a $17 million renovation, and it’s now $29 million. I’ve just got to send the message: It’s not there to be spent.