Shelton grand list increases by 0.5%

The city’s new grand list has increased by 0.5% to almost $4.5 billion, which should generate a little extra money in tax revenue for Shelton during the upcoming fiscal year.

“I’m happy we had growth,” Mayor Mark Lauretti said. “Next year will be a better year, based on what is in the pipeline now.”

The grand list is the total value of all taxable real estate, business equipment (called “personal property”) and motor vehicles in the city. It is updated annually on Oct. 1 and released a few months later.

Growth in the grand list generates extra tax revenue for a city without having to raise the tax rate.

Assessor: Projects on the way

William Gaffney, Shelton assessor, said he also expects to see more growth in the next grand list. “I think we’ll pick up a few extra dollars,” Gaffney said.

This will be partly due to the completion of the AvalonBay apartment complex on Canal Street downtown as well as “other projects in the works,” including other rental housing developments, Gaffney said. “Rentals are now more viable than other options,” he said of the current residential real estate marketplace.

The new grand list will take effect with the start of the new fiscal year on July 1.

City with a growing tax base

Shelton has benefited from a growing grand list in recent times, due mostly to all the corporate development. Real estate makes up the bulk of the grand list.

In the new grand list, real estate went up 0.6% to $3.85 billion, personal property went up 0.5% to $341 million, and motor vehicles declined 0.8% to $306 million.

Gaffney said the overall 0.5% increase is pretty consistent with what is happening in nearby towns. “Some are up and some down, with no big movements,” he said.

Gaffney said the motor vehicles category appears to have dropped in many municipalities across the state this year. Registration-related issues involving emissions testing renewals with the state Department of Motor Vehicles could be a factor in that, he said.

During the economic downturn, many people held on to their older cars longer, although that trend also led to higher market values for used cars. Nationally, there has been an uptick in new vehicle sales in the past year or two.

Revaluation process

Shelton went through revaluation with the previous grand list, a process that takes place every five years when real estate is re-assessed.

Real estate assessments had dropped by more than 17% with that grand list, reflecting the decline in housing values over the previous five-year period.

Lauretti said the challenging economy is having an impact on development and real estate values everywhere. “If growth isn’t going to happen in Shelton, it’s not going to happen anywhere in Connecticut,” he said.

The new grand list could change slightly based on appeals. Gaffney said about 20 taxpayers have filed notices to challenge their assessments with the Board of Assessment Appeals, which will meet in mid-March. The deadline to appeal an assessment has passed.

Assessment appeals are much more common in years when revaluation takes place.

Scinto tops list of taxpayers

Real estate developer R.D. Scinto Inc., controlled by Robert Scinto, continues to be the top taxpayer in Shelton, with assessed property worth almost $239 million.

Scinto’s holdings are worth almost five times more than those of the next highest taxpayer. Second is Pitney Bowes at $52 million, followed by United Illuminating at $48 million, Aquarion at $37 million, and Health Net at $33 million.

AvalonBay Communities is a new entry into the Top Ten Taxpayers list this year, with an assessment of $17.7 million. This reflects the construction that had been done on the downtown apartment complex by last Oct. 1, and the assessment will increase as the development is completed.

Business equipment impact

Unlike for other big taxpayers, most of the assessed value for UI and Aquarion involves business equipment. This includes utility lines, underground pipes and related equipment.

UI’s new assessment has dropped by $7.6 million from the previous year, when it was the city’s second biggest taxpayer, because it has moved most operations out of its Bridgeport Avenue property.