It is extremely brazen, or extremely foolish, to lie directly to the public’s face. I will leave the reader to decide into which category Mayor O’Brien falls.
Now that tax bills have been printed and have started reaching the homes of unsuspecting taxpayers, some people have started to raise concerns over the increase in motor vehicle taxes they will be paying. This, of course, is only made worse by the fact that included with the tax bill is a statement from the Mayor which explicitly states that taxes are not going up. It is very insulting to be holding in one hand a statement that informs you your taxes won’t be increasing, while in the other hand you are holding a higher tax bill, but I digress.
What it all comes down to is the mill rate. The mill rate governs how high or low your taxes are. As I’ve explained in past issues, to calculate taxes the mill rate is multiplied by your property value and then divided by 1,000. This same formula is used to calculate your property taxes for your home as well as your car.
Now, due to revaluation some taxes will go up and some will go down. Virtually all car taxes will go up, since most cars have not been devalued by more than 20% in one year. Some property taxes on real estate may go down, but only the property has lost more than 20 percent value. Even if you are one of the “lucky ones” whose taxes are going down because of massive loss in property value, the rise in mill rate spells bad news for the city.
Businesses are not likely to want to expand in an area where taxes are high. Any renovations or additions they add to their physical buildings come at a much higher tax liability, and expansions such as adding vehicles to a fleet, or purchasing other capital equipment comes with eventual increases to their bottom line.
Investors are driven away from a city as well, when purchasing a property a higher amount of taxes means a higher tax to value ratio. So for every dollar spent on a building in New Britain, a higher portion of it just going to paying off taxes, rather than toward owning the building. It simply does not make for a sound investment. Additionally, the grand list, and the mill rate, is an overall indicator of the health of a community. When the grand list plummets it means that the city is worth less than it was before, and that is never good news.
So just how bad is New Britain doing? Well, previously New Britain’s mill rate of 36.63 was one of the highest in the state, with only about a dozen municipalities having a higher rate. Now the rate is 44.12. While it is true that other municipalities have seen increases as well, not all of them have been as painful as New Britain’s. Figures on the new mill rates for towns around Connecticut are not yet available, but when compared to last year it appears that New Britain may have the third highest tax rate in Connecticut, trailing behind only Hartford and Waterbury.
Nicholas Mercier is the President of the Citizens Property Owners Association and former chairman of the Board of Finance.