The town tax base grew by 0.75 percent as of Oct. 1, a higher increase than the previous two years, but not by much, according to figures just released by town officials.
Although exemptions may now be granted by the Board of Assessors, in practice very little changes in the size of the Grand List, which town government relies on to fund itself. Taxpayers who want to contest their property assessments have until Feb. 20 to apply for an appeal before the town Board of Assessment Appeals.
The total Net Grand List grew to $8.862 billion, compared with $8.795 billion last year, an increase of $66.3 million. The Net Grand List is equal to 70 percent of the assessed value of real estate, along with motor vehicles and "personal property" (non-real estate property owned by a business).
If taxed at the current 12.20 mill rate ($12.20 per $1,000 of assessed value), the $66.3 million increase in the tax base (the Net Grand List) would bring in $796,000 more in tax revenue, if it were all collected.
"In spite of challenging economic times and in contrast to many of our peer towns, Darien has experienced a Net Grand List growth," First Selectman Jayme Stevenson and Tax Assessor Tony Homicki said in a short news release.YearTotal Grand List
Increase% IncreaseMills2008 $8,740,903,404 $2,134,648,019 14.1% (reval)
11.37 2009 $8,753,256,485 $12,353,581 0.14% 11.74 2010 $8,795,402,983 $42,146,498 0.48% 12.20 2011 $8,862,025,191 $66,336,358 0.75% n/a
(Update: 8:58 a.m.: The "Increase" figure for 2009 $12,353,581 was incorrect in an Assessor's Office document. It has been changed here, and the percent increase has also been corrected.)
The vast bulk of the $8.9 billion in town taxable property is real estate ($8.46 billion), and most of that is residential real estate. Motor vehicles take up the next largest category ($233 million), and after that business "personal property" ($160 million).Category200920102011
IncreaseReal Estate $8,403,258,000 $8,423,807,250 $8,469,906,100 $46,098,850 0.54% Motor Vehicles $201,217,680 $216,654,170 $233,014,185 $16,360,015 7.0% Personal Property $150,312,195 $156,415,113 $160,292,606 $3,877,493 2.4% Gross Total $8,754,787,875 $8,796,876,533 $8,863,212,891 $66,336,358 0.75% Exemptions —$1,531,390 —$1,473,550 —$1,187,700 - - Net Grand List $8,753,256,485 $8,795,402,983 $8,862,025,191 $66,336,358 0.75%
According to a Jan. 31 memorandum from Homicki to Kate Buch, the town finance director:
"The primary reason for [the] $46 million increase to the 2011 real estate Grand List was due to a combination of both residential and commercial improvements that have occurred throughout the town of Darien. Building permits were active through the 2011 calendar year, with this office inspecting over 450 percels that had physical changes or had a turnover of commercial tenants.
" maintains a strong effort in defining and defending the 10-1-2008 revaluation base year of valuation. Taxpayers are offered the opportunity to file an appeal before the Board of Assessment Appeals. Applications must be filed in or before Feb. 20, 2012. As agents for the Board of Appeals, the Assessor's Office will notify each applicant in writing as to the exact date and time of their hearing. The board will be meeting during the third week in March."
The town counted 58 more vehicles in taxpayers' hands on Oct. 1 than it did 12 months earlier, according to Homicki Darien taxpayers own a total of 17,773, and the average vehicle is valued at $18,730.
The most expensive vehicle in Darien is a Ferrari 599 GTO, with an assessed value of $280,000. Ole A. Halvorsen is the owner.
Personal property taxes are collected from more than 1,000 business personal accounts in town. Homicki wrote: "The largest taxpayer in this category is our regional utility company, CL&P, assessed at just over $86 million, where our tax pase was complemented with the physical underground utility upgrades that occurred between 2007 and 2009.
The 50 largest payers of town personal property taxes had a total assessment of $134,169,813.
"The office has again hired a consultant to perform field audits of randomly selected business personal property accounts, which will continue through the spring of 2012," Homicki wrote in his Jan. 31 memo.