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Saturday, February 2, 2008

Mayor dubs grand list growth healthy

By James Tinley
Register Staff
— The grand list received an “extremely healthy” bump, Mayor James L. Richetelli Jr. said Friday, and he predicted that growth will continue as more major tax-generating projects come onto the tax rolls.
The 2007 grand list rose from $7.1 billion to $7.2 billion, which amounts to a 1.96 percent increase from 2006. But that is when the total value of the five-year phased-in housing revaluation is factored in, Richetelli said. The city is in the second year of the phase-in, which sets the actual grand list for 2007 at $5.3 billion. This reflects a 17 percent increase in total taxable property from 2006, said City Assessor Daniel Thomas.
But Thomas was quick to downplay the substantial figure for the percentage of growth to the grand list and said it is skewed by not adjusting for the revaluation. He said the 1.96 percent increase is a more accurate reflection of the added revenue to the city.
One of the largest additions the tax rolls was the Milford Crossing shopping complex, which is anchored by Wal-Mart. The $78.6 million that Milford Crossing contributed to the tax rolls in 2007 makes it the city’s second-largest taxpayer, behind the Westfield Connecticut Post mall. The tax money Milford Crossing brought into the city also accounts for almost 75 percent of the growth to the city’s real estate value.
Revenue drawn from motor vehicle taxes rose by 1.7 percent, which Thomas sees as an indication that people are still buying new cars. He said this was in indication of the strength of the economy in the area, despite what many are characterizing as tough economic times.
With more major tax contributors expected to come on the books in the coming months and years, Richetelli said, “I’m fairly optimistic (the growth) will continue in the future.”
Those projects include taxes generated from power lines that are strung through Milford, the Devon Power Station’s plans to put two new natural gas burning generators online, as well as the extension of the Iroquois natural gas pipeline. A newly approved fuel cell power plant is also expected to add tax revenue.
On the commercial side, a Lowe’s home improvement store, a Pilgrim furniture store, as well as three new hotels and a conference center planned for the city will also continue to add to the tax rolls in the future.
Aldermanic Chairman Ben Blake, D-5, said a “good, healthy grand list is only one part of the equation,” and called on Richetelli to stem “out of control spending.”
The 2007 Top 10 net assessments: Westfield Connecticut Post mall, $176.6 million; Milford Crossing Investors LLC, $78.1 million; Smith Craft Real Estate, $55.6 million; Crown Milford LLC, $37.7 million; Connecticut Light & Power, $35 million; Schick Manufacturing, $27.5 million; D’Amato Investments LLC, $27.1 million; JP Construction/Avalon Bay, $25.4 million; Keystone Milford LLC, $19.9 million, and Milford Plaza Associates LLC, $16.6 million.



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