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Southington Will See 8.57 Percent Decline in Grand List

Motor vehicle and personal property taxes see increases, but revaluation and other changes will leave many challenges for members of the Board of Finance and Town Council.

There are some challenges ahead if the Board of Finance and Town Council want to keep taxes relatively low for Southington taxpayers – especially given an 8.57 percent overall decrease in the grand list, which will officially be released Wednesday.

Brian Lastra told members of the Town Council Monday that the 2011 revaluation in part led to a 10.6 percent decline in total real estate on this year’s grand list. Motor vehicle property increased at 7-percent and personal property accounted for a 6.09 percent increase, helping off-set the real estate drop.

“There could be some minor differences between now and when the grand list is signed (on Wednesday), but the bottom line is it won’t have a large effect on the numbers here,” Lastra said Monday.

John Barry said the numbers reflect the need to look for areas where the budgets, currently presented with requests for a 2 percent increase in general government and 3.82 percent for the Board of Education, could be reduced to help prevent large increases to the taxpayer.

“In terms of what this means for the average taxpayer; to just maintain level services then the mill rate has to go up,” Barry said.

The town’s , an increase of 1.08 percent (or $26 per $100,000 home). In order to maintain current services – a zero budget increase – the mill rate would need to be raised to 26.55. At this time, and with the 8-9 percent decreases for most real estate properties, it is difficult to determine what that would mean for the average taxpayer at this time.

The Board of Finance, which began their budget review process on Thursday, will receive the official data just before their second budget workshop on Wednesday night. A public hearing will also be held on March 5 at before the board proposes and votes on a budget to send to the Town Council.

Lastra also apologized on Monday for the delay in the budget, saying that due to extreme weather circumstances which affected revaluation efforts in August and October and an increase in services rendered in 2011, Vision Government Services failed to meet deadlines established to allow for the grand list to be released on time.

The town filed for a 30-day extension on Jan. 31, and Lastra said the new information has now been entered into the system.

Councilwoman Dawn Miceli said she would like to consider “penalties” in any future revaluation contracts to avoid problems that could delay the grand list being released, especially given some of the challenges it will now present.

Although the numbers are “disappointing,” Council Chairman Edward Pocock III said the major work has been completed and future grand lists, including in revaluation years, should be presented on schedule and without the need for an extension.

“(The town) went from a DOS-based system to a current technology system. The revaluation is an equalizing of the books,” Pocock said. “We don’t ask for this, but what it does is reset the books to what current values are and it’s a reality we need to deal with.”

Paul F February 28, 2012 at 11:53 AM
"Lastra also apologized on Monday for the delay in the budget, saying ..." What he's now saying seems to contradict what was said in the past; are we being lied to or what? I agree with Mr. Barry. The Council has to look at the budgets for the next few years in the same way the taxpayers have had to. Many people have been in a revenue bind since 1998 and have had to pare their family budgets to the bone. If property values have declined this much, one can bet many more may be underwater than we perceive. Asking people to pay into the communal pot for nonessential or nonsensical expenditures may force them over the brink economically, forcing foreclosure that benefits no one. So let's be sensible when we cut and pare the general and the school budgets.
Arthur Cyr February 28, 2012 at 02:25 PM
Attempting to determine what are "nonessential or nonsensical expenditures" is often in the eye of the beholder. People with children may consider Town paid pre-school and extra staff to reduce class size absolutely essential while senior citizens do not. People who use the Calendar House services may consider the free bus rides essential to go shopping or to a doctor's appointment while young working families trying to keep their heads above water may think they shouldn't be paying for it with their taxes. The question of what is reasonable is a difficult one to determine for all of us.
Les J February 29, 2012 at 11:52 AM
Well in both the instances cited, where the heck does plastic grass for the newly so-called HS "stadium" fit in? Given these needs, seems to me that common sense would dictate that to be a non-essential and nonsensical whim on the part of the sports complex of this Town. Wouldn't that $900k (and we all know it's going to be a lot more) be better spent to help retain education staff and provide better and broader service to a rapidly growing demographic? And I would have a hard time justifying the higher taxes for a fancier playground to someone who may be pushed over the brink trying to pay them. It's not hard to figure sports is a non-essential and kids and the elderly are, unless you're in the old-boy, sports network or trying to curry votes from them, Art.
Arthur Cyr February 29, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Les - You're really misinformed! To start, I am not part of the "good- old-boys network", involved in ANY sports of any kind in this town, or an elected official or running for any office in Southington. Is that the best you can do in a rebuttal? It is sad to realize that people post their bias thoughts as fact - "*We all know it's going to cost more than $900K*. You don't "know" that, because the detailed reports on costs isn't due out until next month. The Town is attempting to change the field from 90% football to a Town sports facility. It would be available for soccer, lacrosse and field hockey for both Town teams and regional games. It would be available for state and regional tournaments for all those sports. I believe that would be like trying to "provide better and broader service to a rapidly growing demographic". Many people say "just plant more grass." Read the past YEARS budgets for what that costs for 10-20 games per year. Accept the fact(s) that the field needs drainage and base repairs after 40 years and the surrounding track repair costs alone are close to $175,000. You can ignore these facts and simply say "Don't spend any money". That's how this Town got 15 years behind in road repairs and didn't renovate our two middle schools 10 years ago like we should have. Other towns are doing private fundraising and received grants to offset the initial installation. Some people know this, which is why the field is NOT in the Town budget for 2012.
Bill Jones March 01, 2012 at 11:34 AM
I imagine what the guy's saying, Cyr, is that the $900k figure has been bandied around since the start and that's a reasonable figure to cite right now just for a perspective on where the Town plans to spend money. And utilizing the field more was not the intention of this thing in the first place. That's merely a slight of hand to spread the unearthy costs amongst other hair-brained uses. Perhaps a grass field could be used as much, but that won't be cited because then you're comparing apples to apples. The Town got behind on repairs and maintenance because funds were diverted to other unneeded projects like this.. And by the way, I seem to remember you on stage bombasting yourself as an independent a few years back and fully doubt that you're still not feathering your political nest. Let's not insult the readers, please!
Arthur Cyr March 01, 2012 at 01:07 PM
Here's all the incorrect statements above: 1. "utilizing the field more was not the intention of this thing in the first place". Wrong. As soon as you look at different options to grass, everyone realizes you can use it MUCH more. 2. "Perhaps a grass field could be used as much" - Wrong! Not even close! 20 days a year now vs 200 days with Turf. 3. "The Town got behind on repairs and maintenance"... No, the BOE did not get behind, these facilities eventually wear out. Go look at the running track. FYI - yes, I was on the ballot as an Independent for Town Council in 2009 along with 3 other people. None of us got elected. Its laughable to hear garbage like "feathering your political nest" as you hide behind fake names. THERE IS A PUBLIC HEARING ON THE BUDGET MONDAY NIGHT at DePaulo Middle School at 7pm. Try to bring some actual facts with you?
arthur taylor April 07, 2012 at 12:17 PM
As I have stated before, The town spends $43,113.00 to maintain Fontana field' If we use the field for a 180 day school term,that amounts to $2392.17 per day for maintenance. If we use it 365 days that amounts to $1181.18 per day. For all this money spent, shouldn't this field be of NFL quality. Who is minding the store here.What a waste of taxpayer money!!
arthur taylor April 07, 2012 at 12:39 PM
My Bad. The correct amount per day for 365 days should be $118.12

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