The bill passed the House Tuesday 125 to 18 and was immediately transmitted to Gov. M. Jodi Rell for her approval.
Rep. Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, said as chairman of the legislature’s Planning and Development Committee he reluctantly came to support the legislation.
Sharkey said he has serious public policy concerns with delaying the impact of a property revaluation, but it’s clear that this year of all years “it does make sense to do it.” He said property values are so far out of whack at the moment that it makes sense to wait until the housing market settles down.
Sen. Majority Leader Martin Looney, has said the City of New Haven is anxious to have this bill passed because a one-year delay will save residential taxpayers from a steep property tax hike during an economic crisis.
New Haven’s Mayor John DeStefano proposed delaying the third year of a five-year property revaluation when he released his budget earlier this year. Today he sent out a press release praising the legislature’s action on this measure.
“Raising property taxes now would be like pouring gasoline on a fire,” he said in a press release.
New Haven’s revaluation, performed in 2006 as required by state law, shifted the tax burden from commercial to residential taxpayers.
In order to delay implementation of a revaluation or a phase-in of the revaluation a local governing body would have to vote on it, according to the language in the bill.
Officials in Windsor, which just went through its revaluation and decided on a five-year phase-in, said they won’t be taking advantage of the legislation this year.
As they watched the results of the budget vote roll in Tuesday night at Town Hall, Windsor’s Mayor Donald Trinks said he doesn’t think it would be in the best interest of the residents to delay the results of the revaluation. Republican Councilman Don Jepsen agreed. He said it’s not a partisan thing, it’s more about what you believe the future holds.
Jepsen said he thinks commercial property values will dip next year, which would shift the burden to residential homeowners and make the tax burden worse for the average homeowner not better.
However, Deputy Mayor Al Simon and Democratic Councilman Bill Herzfeld said they were happy the legislature gave them an option.
“As we move forward we can look at where the values are and if the residential does fall then we may take advantage of this,” Herzfeld said.
“We’re glad to have more options,” Simon said. “We need the ability to control our own destiny.”
He said it’s rare that the state actually gives towns the ability to control their own destinies.