Grand list shows 'decent' increase

New construction, primarily at River Ridge where Toll Brothers has put in a subdivision of new homes, is one factor figuring in the $4.3-billion grand list Town Assessor David Lisowski has prepared for Wilton.

The net taxable grand list as of Oct. 1, 2014, totals $4,296,785,600, a 0.7% increase over 2013. The grand list represents the assessed value of all property — real estate, personal property and motor vehicles — in Wilton. It is one of the tools the Board of Finance will use in figuring the mill rate for the fiscal year 2015-2016.

It will affect tax bills for July 1, 2015.

The grand list tally is not final. It will likely change a bit after the Board of Assessment Appeals reviews petitions and meets with property owners who disagree with the assessed value of their property. The board will meet in March.

The three main components of the grand list — real estate, personal property and motor vehicles — all had increases in value.

One major increase outside those three categories that added about $9 million to the bottom line was penalties levied on commercial property owners who were either late or non-compliant in responding to information requests from the town. This is information the town is allowed to ask for and it helps in figuring the value of their property. The increase in penalties was 103% over 2013. Without it, the grand list would have increased 0.59% over 2013, only a tick over the 0.57% increase from 2012 to 2013.

Real estate

Real estate assessments make up the bulk of the grand list and are figured at 70% of Oct. 1, 2012 market value. This is true for new construction as well as pre-existing buildings where improvements are made.

There are approximately 5,366 homes in Wilton valued at $1,358,080,190 (building assessment only) and 539 condominiums valued at $151,636,100.

Total residential value — which also includes lots, excess acreage and outbuildings — totals $3,230,678,190, up 0.7% over the previous year.

Commercial property, valued at $601,213,260,  showed a slight decline of 0.06%. There are 183 commercial buildings valued at $246,418,650, four apartment buildings valued at $20,658,120, and 28 commercial condominiums at $71,626,870. Land and commercial improvements make up the rest of this category.

Mr. Lisowski explained the decrease, saying there was only a “small amount of commercial construction” last year. There is not much on the horizon either, with only small projects at ASML and Breitling in the works as some of the current projects underway.

“A little over $500,000 in commercial property went from taxable to tax-exempt,” he added, when Fidelco took over 27 Cannon Road. Fidelco is involved in the breeding and training of guide dogs for the visually impaired.

Rounding out the real estate category are public utilities, vacant land, and land use.

Combined, that brings total real estate value to $3,887,422,950, an increase of 0.56% over 2013.

“For where we are and what little open land we have, we are right on par with last year,” Mr. Lisowski said, adding there are no major projects on the horizon for this year.

Given that all new construction and improvements are based on 2012 market value “0.56% is a decent number and 0.7% is nothing to complain about,” he said.

Personal property

Wiltonians own 16,576 motor vehicles valued at $198,131,460, a 0.56% increase over 2013.

Personal property also includes things as varied as horses and ponies, manufacturing equipment, unregistered motor vehicles, furniture, farm machinery, mechanics’ tools, telecommunication equipment, cables, conduits, and more.

Including registered motor vehicles, the personal property total amounted to $455,556,800, an increase of 2.52%.

Exemptions, which are subtracted from the gross total, amounted to $55,474,700.

Assessment challenges

Some 355 property owners were sent notices last week advising them of increases in their property values. Notices were also sent to about 700 businesses where there were personal property increases.

They, as well as any Wilton property owner who disagrees with their property’s assessed value, may file a petition for a hearing with the Board of Assessment Appeals. Petitions must be received in the assessor’s office at town hall by 4:30 p.m., Feb. 20. The board will meet in March to hear challenges. For information, call 203-563-0121.