Appeal applications in Wilton fewer than in neighboring towns

Residents who view the town calendar online may have noticed a Board of Assessment Appeals meeting nearly every week in April.
According to the tax assessor’s office, 188 appeal applications were turned in for the 2018 grand list. This was an increase from the 77 applications for the 2017 grand list. However, the increases come during a revaluation year.
Board of Assessment Appeals Chairman Warren Serenbetz said the appeals received in Wilton were fewer than the neighboring towns of Norwalk and New Canaan.
“Norwalk got around 2,000,” Serenbetz said.
In New Canaan, there were 409 appeals received with as many as half of the property valuations appealed being adjusted.
“We didn’t get all that many and I think that’s because a lot of people’s valuations went down, which they should’ve, given the market,” Serenbetz said.
Of the 188 applications, approximately 37 were commercial properties with assessments over $1 million, he said. Commercial properties are valued based on the net operating income. Due to this, information is needed on revenues and expenses.
“As the Board of Assessment Appeals, we’re not qualified to do that so we just reject them out of hand,” Serenbetz said.
This left 151 appeals for the Board of Assessment Appeals to deal with. Residents fill out hearing requests and identify why they want a hearing.
“Typically, they feel their home is overvalued,” Serenbetz said. “Usually, they’re comparing it to recent sales data they’ve seen or looked up.”
Serenbetz said his board has been holding hearings since April 3. This includes Saturdays and during the week.
“We’ve put a lot of time in listening to these hearings,” he said.
After hearings the board reviews each application and deliberates. The members then make a decision whether they agree with the applicant or not.
“Our decision as the (Board of Assessment Appeals) is basically final for Wilton,” he said. “The next step after that if they don’t agree is to go to Superior Court in New Britain.”
Serenbetz said he wasn’t involved with the board in 2012 during the last revaluation, but was told in that year there were around 300 appeals.
“A lot of the appeals we’re hearing are homes in the $1-million-plus range,” Serenbetz said.
He said the market for these homes is soft, which means there are more potential sellers than buyers. This may be the cause for concern for some residents, he added.
Serenbetz said the last hearing for appeals occurred on April 24. Deliberations started on April 25 and continued on Monday.