Op-Ed: Property Taxes And The Budget Process

As part of our goal to keep the town informed and provide meaningful updates from time to time, this is a follow up to my summary last month regarding property revaluations. The purpose of this letter is to continue to communicate our process and to set a range of expectations given the large swings in valuations that we have seen. We don’t have all the budget facts at this point and assumptions continue to move around since my note last month. We are just starting the budget process, and just completing the revaluation assessments. As a reminder, new assessments were mailed out to property owners in December.

Board of Finance Chair: Understanding the Recent Revaluation

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.

The Grazing Ram: Funding Bodies Voice Support for Public Cemetery Maintenance Plan 

[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.

Conservation Commission Chair Proposes Solution To Build Up ‘Land Acquisition Fund’

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.