Conduct A Revaluation For 2004?
The Town of Branford is
acting under the law that was in effect prior to October
1, 2004 which required quadrennial revaluations.
Branford was scheduled to complete a revaluation for
October 1, 2000, but did not implement it until October
1, 2002. as Branford was in the process of revaluation
when the law was changed the town then decided to
complete the process for October 1, 2004. Under the
current law, Branford’s next revaluation is scheduled
for completion on October 1, 2009.
Secondly, It is the
Law. The State of Connecticut, under the provisions of
Section 12-62 of the General Statutes, requires a
revaluation of all real estate every five years.
Legislation mandates that Branford commences it
quintessential cycle for the October 1, 2004 Grand
List. This Law was enacted by the 2004 General
There is a growing
awareness that the local property taxes have become a
significant part of the expenses in owning property.
Keeping this in mind, revaluations are required to
insure property owners of uniformity in property
valuations. A revaluation sets new assessed values on a
current basis, for use by the Assessor.
revaluation requires a significant amount of time spent
on careful research to assure that the new values are
accurate and that all property owners will pay ONLY
their FAIR SHARE of the property tax burden.
Is Meant By “Revaluation?”
The revaluation program
involves the reappraisal of all real property in the
town in order to bring about uniformity in property
valuations and to assure all property owners that they
are paying only their fair share of the cost of
community services. Revaluation is NOT intended to
raise revenues. Its purpose is to value all properties
by the same standards at the same point in time.
Is Revaluation Needed?
It has been two years
since the last revaluation of all real estate in
Branford. Meanwhile constantly changing economic
conditions have caused inequities to develop. The
solution to this problem is to reappraise all real
estate bringing assessment records up to date with
present day values.
Kind Of Inequities Exist Now?
Just the normal “hills
and valleys” which occur in any community over a period
of time. Neighborhoods change, and the economic climate
changes, meaning that some properties have become
overvalued or undervalued when compared to comparable
market properties. The revaluation returns properties
to current market values and to the fair-share basis.
Is Fair Market Value?
A legal standard
defined by the courts is the price established between a
willing buyer and a willing seller, taking into
consideration all the uses to which the property is
Determines The Value Of My Property?
People do. You, and
the person who sold it to you, and the person who is
willing to buy it from you create the value. People
make the market, not the Assessor. During a
revaluation, it is the Assessor’s and the Assessor’s
staff’s job to research and discover values.
A single property sale
transaction, however, would not be the sole
determination of your property value. All valid sales
in a given neighborhood are used as guidelines. In
effect, a revaluation does the same thing that you would
do as a prospective buyer, by examining all the features
of a property before applying values.
A few of the other
factors considered are: local market conditions, size
and quality of construction, age of building,
improvements to or deterioration of neighborhood,
zoning, and so on.
Isn’t Fair Market Value What I Paid For My Property?
Not always. Some
people will pay more than fair market value for their
property. Others may have bought their property at a
bargain price, and others may have purchased the
property years ago when prices and values were
considerably different. The true test is what your
property is worth in October 2004 in comparison to other
My Share Of The Tax Burden Go Down?
Yes. If the market values in your area have not risen
as much as in other areas since the last revaluation, or
, if your property is currently overvalued when compared
with like properties, your share of the tax burden would
reduced as a result of
Hasn’t Inflation Driven Most Values Up?
In general, yes. But
that doesn’t mean that your taxes will go up
proportionately. In fact, your share of taxes might not
change significantly, even with inflation. What you
have to remember is that your property is compared with
all properties. Inflation affects just about
everybody, so most of these values will have risen too.
The question to ask yourself is, “How do I compare with
In all likelihood, your
new assessment notice may be higher than your present
assessment, but it will not tell you whether your next
tax bill will go up, be about the same, or go down.
Will The New Assessments Be Effective?
The new assessments
will be placed on the October 1, 2004 Grand List from
which tax bill will be generated and due on July 1,
My Reassessment Notice Doesn’t Tell How Much I Will Have
To Pay, Or How High Taxes Might Go, What Good Is It?
The primary purpose of
revaluation notices is to show the assessment determined
so that you can have the opportunity to review and
insure that no errors have been made. Questions of
value can be reviewed, explained, and justified.
Adjustments, corrections, and concerns will be noted.
Remember, a revaluation
establishes and addresses value, not taxes.
Revaluations are important because the amount of
municipal taxes is based on the assessed value of
property-formula: Assessment x Mill Rate=Taxes.
Are Mill Rates Established?
Except where otherwise
determined by law, mill rates are established by
dividing the budget to be raised by local taxes by the
total taxable assessments in the town. This is
determined by the Board of Finance and the R.T.M.
Assessment Values Go Up, Won’t My Taxes?
In bringing property
values up to date, there is an increase in the total
assessments on the Grand List for the town. If the
assessments increase, but the mill rate stays the same,
then your taxes will go up.
With the increase to
the Grand List, Branford’s governing body can reduce the
mill rate lessening any required tax increase. In other
words, the mill rate would fall by a proportionate
amount, assuming budgets pre and post revaluation were
identical. The point being that a balanced budget is
all that is required; no more than that.
Can’t Someone Tell Me What The New Rate Will Be And What
My Taxes Will Be?
Until a total Grand
List, including all new values, is completed, and a new
budget is adopted, no one can say what the mill rate or
your tax bill will be.
A fact to consider,
however, is that with the downward adjustment of the
mill rate at revaluation, the tax bill on motor vehicles
decreases. Remember, since the 2002 revaluation the
real estate assessments have been 70% of 2002 market
value, and have remained that way for the past two years
until the 2004 revaluation. But this is not the case
for motor vehicles. A motor vehicle is annually
assessed at 70% of current average retail value. When
the mill rate is reduced, one will pay less in Branford
on motor vehicles.
If with the updated
assessment on real estate and the downward adjustment of
the mill rate, there is an increase in the real estate
tax bill, then just shift the savings on the motor
vehicle tax bills over to the real estate tax. In other
words, consider the total municipal tax bill-real estate
and motor vehicles-and then look at the impact of
Initially Sets My Assessment And What Can I Do If I
Think It Is Wrong?
The Revaluation Company
arrives at the assessed value. If you believe that your
assessment is wrong, the first step is to contact the
revaluation office. A meeting or informal hearing will
be necessary. You would then be given an appointed time
to come into the revaluation office.
This is the proper time and place to correct any errors
A member of the
revaluation company’s staff will review your property
records, and necessary adjustments will be made if you
show that an error has been made in describing your
property, which significantly affects its value.
If there is a
significant difference between the data on your property
records and the state of your property, the revaluation
company will schedule an inspection and review of your
property. In some cases, where the person appealing
presents factual evidence, an adjustment can be made
without additional inspection and review.
After The Informal Meeting I Still Disagree With The
Assessment, What Is The Next Step?
The next step is a
formal hearing before the Board of Assessment Appeals.
Make inquiry at the Assessor’s Office for the meeting
dates and proper procedure to follow in order to have an
appointment with the board.
Any evidence that you
may have affecting your assessment should be presented
to the Board of Assessment Appeals.
Should a disagreement
remain after the Board of Assessment Appeals hearing, an
appeal to the courts under Section 12-117A of the
Connecticut State Statutes is the next and last step.
Still Have To Pay My Taxes If I Appeal Under Section
Section 12-117A requires payment of at least 75% of
taxes due, or 90% if the assessment exceeds $500,000
even if appealed. Otherwise, penalties and interest are
added to unpaid taxes due. Any judgment in your favor
may require a refund or credit of taxes paid in excess
of any reduced assessment.
There Any Disadvantage To Me If I Appeal?
No, In fact, the
Assessor’s Office encourages you to review your
assessments and appeal if you sincerely question the
value. The Assessor’s Office will see that each
taxpayer is satisfied within the limits set by state
statute, and at the same time assure that assessments
are on a fair share basis. In the great majority of
cases, when the Assessor finds that the taxpayer is
right, an adjustment is made. The Assessor would like
to satisfy each property owner, but has a duty to all
taxpayers in the city to be fair and equitable, and work
within the guidelines of Connecticut State Statutes.
About Exemptions and Elderly Programs?
State Statutes provide
exemptions for veterans, the blind, and totally
disabled. If you now have an exemption, it will be
automatically deducted at tax billing time. For those
who do not have one, but feel that they could qualify
for an exemption, make inquiry at Assessor’s Office.
Those elderly on the Homeowners Program will not lose
their benefits at revaluation, as long as they meet the
requirements of the program and maintain the biennial
filing. For information on how to get on the
Homeowners Program, one can call the Assessor’s Office.