Grand list shows slight increase
With less new construction in 2015 than the previous year, Wilton’s $4.3-billion grand list showed only a bit of growth, increasing by 0.18%. The 2014 grand list had increased by 0.7%.
“Overall, real estate was pretty static,” Town Assessor David Lisowski said, noting the real estate portion of the grand list increased by 0.47%.
The net taxable grand list as of Oct. 1, 2015, totals $4,303,570,950, a 0.18% increase over 2014. 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 2016-17.
It will affect tax bills for July 1, 2016.
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 April.
The major factor driving the small increase was in business personal property after exemptions, Lisowski said. “People are not replacing equipment, resulting in increased depreciation,” he explained.
As an example, he pointed out a “good-sized” space of about 80,000 square feet at 10 Westport Road. Deloitte moved out and a new tenant recently moved in after the assessment date.
Exemptions on all properties totaled $59 million, up about $3.5 million over the previous year. This includes manufacturing equipment exempt from taxation as well as exemptions for taxpayers who are veterans, blind or totally disabled.
“The state used to reimburse the town dollar for dollar” for this exemption, Lisowski said, but in 2012 the amount reimbursed was frozen. The exemption amount on the grand list is $56.9 million.
Another change came in the Income and Expense Penalty, which was $6.6 million less in 2015 compared to 2014. This penalty is levied on commercial property owners who are 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.
In 2014, this amount was $9.3 million. In 2015, property owners were more prompt in responding, so penalties amounted to $2.7 million.
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 5,368 homes in Wilton assessed at $1,373,510,500 (building assessment only) and 542 condominiums assessed at $154,435,890. The homes in the Toll Brothers River Ridge subdivision are classified as condominiums.
Total residential value — which also includes lots, excess acreage and outbuildings — totals $3,250,567,640, an increase of 0.62% over the previous year.
Commercial property, valued at $601,819,670, was up 0.10%. There are 183 commercial buildings valued at $247,317,940, four apartment buildings valued at $20,658,120, and 28 commercial condominiums valued at $71,626,870. Land and commercial improvements make up the rest of this category.
Two properties — with assessments of $500,000 and $300,000 — were moved from taxable to an open space classification where the property taxes are minimal.
Rounding out the real estate category are public utilities, vacant land, and land use.
Lisowski expects real estate to increase on next year’s grand list with the construction of phase two of Wilton Commons, the 30-unit apartment building on Old Danbury Road, and an addition at ASML. There are a few other projects around town that will impact this portion of the grand list as well.
There were 16,257 motor vehicles assessed at $200,236,249, an increase of 1.06% over 2014.
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 $455,126,129, a decrease of 0.09%.
Some 366 property owners have been sent notices advising them of increases in their property values. Those who disagree with their property’s assessed value may file a petition for a hearing with the Board of Assessment Appeals. These petitions must be filed in the assessor’s office at town hall by 4:30 p.m. on Friday, March 18. Petitions are available in the assessor’s office, which is open from 8:30 to 4:30. The board will notify each petitioner of the specific date, time and place of his or her hearing.
Later this year, the assessor’s office will undertake a full revaluation — required every five years by the state — which will be dated Oct. 1, 2017. It will be conducted with the assistance of an outside valuation company.
The valuation company will look at sales from the spring of 2016 to October 2017.*
In addition, Lisowski expects to send a data mailer to every property owner. The mailers will ask property owners to adjust or verify data the town has on record. If the mailer is not returned, an appraiser will visit the property.
Toward September, the valuation company will look at additional sales and refine its analysis.
Finally, each property in town will be viewed from the street by an appraiser.
Notices of changes in assessments will be mailed in 2017, after which property owners may meet with representatives of the valuation company for an informal hearing. If they are still dissatisfied, they may petition the Board of Assessment Appeals.
*This story has been corrected to reflect a change in the dates when housing sales will be considered.