Grand list rises 0.57 percent

By SHERIDAN CYR

STAFF WRITER

The town of Plainville released the 2017 grand list, an annual document that assesses the amount of taxable property in the town. This year’s net taxable grand list tops off at $1,388,894,859, an increase of almost $8 million from the 2016 grand list.

The grand list is broken down into three categories: real estate, personal property, and motor vehicle. Plainville saw an increase in all three categories.

“I’m happy about the fact that all three areas had an increase,” said Town Manager Robert Lee. “Sometimes one goes down and others go up. I’m glad all three categories are positive even though it’s a small increase.”

Each account increased by over $2 million from the 2016 list. In total, all changes amount to a 0.57 percent increase from 2016’s final total.

“It’s not all that unexpected that we’d be in this range,” said Lee. “That half a percent is close to where we’ve been over the last few years.”

Every year, the value of property is to be determined on Oct. 1, a date set by the state. Town assessors have until Jan. 1 to finalize the list. Real estate makes up for the largest portion of Plainville’s grand list by far. Out of the $1.38 billion total, real estate accounts for $1.14 billion.

Lee explained that real estate change is “simply whatever occurred in terms of new construction.” This includes new businesses, new homes, and additions on homes.

Personal property is an assessment of business’s equipment and machinery, such as furniture, ovens, lighting fixtures and so on. Each year, that equipment decreases in value by a certain percentage as it ages. Personal property would be expected to increase by new businesses starting up, and by existing businesses replacing worn out equipment.

The value of motor vehicles is determined by the Department of Motor Vehicles. They distribute a list to the town of all owners and types of registered vehicles, and an assessment of the value of each make and model.

Taxable property on grand list is subject to a handful of exemptions set by the state.

“The state allows for certain exemptions from property taxes for various categories, like certain manufacturers’ equipment if it’s for a certain purpose,” said Lee. “They may say, ‘if you buy this machinery you won’t get taxed on it for a certain amount of time.’ They apply through the state, and the state tells us from there.”

Other exemptions on the list include handicap vehicles, commercial vehicles, tax abatements, exemptions for veterans, blind and disabled residents, manufacturers, and for the “enterprise zone.”

The enterprise zone is an exemption set by the state, but that Plainville participates in. The zone refers to the southern end of town near the Southington border. The exemption is a hopeful selling point to encourage businesses to come to the town, explained Lee.

“If you build a building there, you would only get taxed for the first several years for 20 percent of its value, in an effort to encourage building,” he said. It works in the town’s favor, because if nothing builds, the town gets nothing. If they do build, they get 20 percent of what the building will eventually need to pay. “Eventually, they’ll be paying 100 percent, but the idea is they’re most vulnerable when they first open up and put out that big investment and it takes a while before they start making that money back, so-to-speak.”

Unfortunately, the state retracted their end of the enterprise zone exemption in an effort to address the looming deficit and ongoing budget troubles. The state was previously reimbursing Plainville for 40 percent of the exemption. Ultimately, Plainville still benefits from 20 percent versus zero if the lots remain empty.

The grand list helps the town to determine the mill rate for the upcoming fiscal year. The current mill rate is 33.43. The value of one mill is one-thousandth of the total grand list. Plainville’s budget will be presented on March 1 and will detail both the town manager’s and the Board of Education’s budget. The Town Council will make recommendations on the budget and residents will be able to vote on the budget on the last Tuesday in April, which is April 24.

“Nobody wants higher taxes, but we try to explain to people why they’d pay more taxes, and keep it as reasonable as possible,” Lee said. “Over the last five years, the mill rate has averaged an increase of a little over 1.5 percent each year, which is close to the rate of inflation. We have a pretty good reputation of keeping our taxes responsible.”

Comments? Email scyr@southingtonObserver.com.