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Southington Sees 1.17 Percent Increase in Grand List

An increase in the town's 2010 grand list means good things for this budget season, but the joy could be short-lived.

The tough economy has taken its toll on revenue and development for many Connecticut municipalities but economic development efforts over the past five years helped lead Southington to a 1.17 percent increase in the grand list in 2010.

Town Assessor Brian Lastra said the figures are a positive sign that the town has continued to retain active businesses and bring in new companies despite economic challenges.

“It was a pleasant surprise and it can be attributed to a little bit of everything,” Lastra said. “The new BJ’s Wholesale Club brought an increase and that only represented a small part of the year while residential construction continued to go up in town.”

Real Estate saw a 0.88 percent increase in 2010, representing approximately $31 million in new assets, while motor vehicle assets increased more than 5 percent. Taxable personal property assets were down almost 1 percent or $1.5 million.

Connecticut Light & Power, which invested more than $4.4 million in new transmission and distribution equipment, was the town’s top taxpayer in 2010, while RK Southington LLC, which owns the Shop Rite plaza, ranked second.

Yankee Gas, Yarde Metals, Hartford Insurance and Target all made the top ten list as well.

John Moise, member of the Board of Finance, said the increase signals that the town is in great fiscal shape heading into budget season.

“This represents an additional $1.125 million in tax income at the current mill rate,” he said. “That gives us some extra income to use before we’d need to consider raising the rate.”

In addition, Moise said a verbal promise made during a speech by Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman to keep ECS funding at least level will lead to an additional $1.2 million federal grant that the Board of Education can use to further reduce its request. If the school budget is approved as presented, the town would only need to increase its budget by $400,000 for schools, he said.

Moise attributed the increase in the grand list not to last year, but to development spurred by economic incentives and a low tax rate over a five-year period now. He said that in order to continue moving forward, the town needs to work hard to avoid increasing the tax rate.

Economic development will also continue to be the town’s primary goal in 2011, Town Council Chairman Edward Pocock III announced late last month during the “State-of-the-Town” address.

Although the 2010 grand list shows promise, Lastra warns residents that revaluation over the next year could drastically change values and may leave some “shocked” in a year when there are extensive changes to grand list figures.

“With all the recent assessments in the open market, towns saw a decrease in their grand list,” Lastra said. “Assuming there is continued growth, it will cloud that picture in terms of quantifying that growth.”

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