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Opinion: Democratic candidate Ned Lamont’s proposal for targeted property tax relief will serve Norwalk better

Former Norwalk Mayor Alex Knopp.

Alex Knopp served as Mayor, State Representative and Common Council member for Norwalk and now is a Visiting Clinical Lecturer at Yale Law School.

Connecticut’s next Governor must confront the twin challenge of balancing the state budget in the face of a substantial deficit while reducing Connecticut’s worst-in-the-nation property tax burden that stifles economic growth in Norwalk and other urban centers.

The Stefanowski Republican proposal to repeal the income tax will take $11 billion from the state’s already strained $18 billion budget. It is unrealistic and impossible to achieve. And even if it could be implemented, such a massive reduction in state revenue would inevitably increase property taxes in Norwalk and in every other Connecticut town.

And that increase in property tax will be particularly detrimental to education funding for Norwalk and other underfunded schools across the state.

The state’s largest cities will be hit the hardest. If state aid to municipalities is cut to pay for Stefanowski’s state revenue reduction, property taxes in Norwalk would likely increase by 24 percent and the median extra tax bill would be $1,863 – a financial burden most of our residents cannot afford to bear.

More than $10 million in direct aid to Norwalk public schools, and millions more in Town Road Aid Grants, money for Local Capital Improvement Projects, and PILOT funds to make up for taxes not assessed against Norwalk Hospital and other not-for-profit and state land would also be eliminated.

I favor electing a governor who takes a more realistic view of attacking the state deficit without shifting the tax burden to property tax payers in Norwalk and other municipalities. That’s why I favor Democratic candidate Ned Lamont’s proposal to provide property tax relief for the middle class that would reduce the financial burden placed on Connecticut residents, an important step in reducing the economic disparity gap in our state.

Ned Lamont’s plan to expand the property tax credit against state income taxes would benefit 900,000 Connecticut taxpayers, providing nearly $700 to working families annually.

There is a clear contrast between Lamont’s targeted middle class property tax relief plan versus the implausible Stefanowski plan to eliminate the income tax which if ever implemented will cut funding for economic development programs, education, public safety, environmental protection, job training and healthcare services for one in every five residents.

The kind of benefit provided by the Lamont property tax relief plan is even more important following the Trump new tax law that severely limits the federal income tax deduction for state and local taxes. That so-called SALT deduction limitation hits Connecticut taxpayers the second worst of any state in the country. The Lamont tax relief plan will restore some of the tax mitigation taken away by the Trump attack on middle-income families in Blue States.

It’s been interesting to note that even petitioning candidate Oz Griebel — a Republican candidate for governor in 2014 – has joined Ned Lamont in doubting the viability of the Stefanowski income tax and criticizing Stefanowski during the debates for failing to explain how state aid to cities and towns could survive a reduction of one-half of all state revenue.

But in our winner-take-all state elections, the Griebel petitioning candidacy carries the risk of unintentionally electing a statewide Republican candidate who Griebel opposes. Therefore, I ask Griebel supporters in Norwalk to consider that a vote for Griebel is effectively a vote for Stefanowski. I urge supporters of the Griebel petitioning candidacy to vote for Lamont to avoid electing Stefanowski by accident.

I’m convinced that Ned Lamont knows that Connecticut needs an honest state budget coupled with priority investment for economic relief and revitalization. His proposal for property tax relief and his vision of an honest and realistic state budget embody what is best for Norwalk and our state going forward.

26 comments

Sue Haynie November 4, 2018 at 6:55 am

Glad Mr. Knopp acknowledges that Connecticut taxpayers have a “worst-in-the-nation property tax burden that stifles economic growth in Norwalk”

His and Lamont’s answer, ‘expand the property tax credit against state income taxes to $700.’ Big deal! That’s a drop in the $$ bucket for Norwalk homeowners.

Lamont is a tax and spend liberal, he will eat up that measly tax credit $$ quickly.

Mr. Knopp is well-meaning but don’t trust his economics. The 2-year-long Knopp administration produced Wall Street’s POKO and the restaurant at Oak Hills, both with ridiculously high building costs and a plethora of requirements that made them economically unfeasible.

Economics 101 November 4, 2018 at 7:46 am

Cutting taxes causes growth. More people would stay in CT, and more businesses would come to CT.

Businesses that are here would have an easier time expanding.

Trump cut federal income tax rates and total taxes collected have gone up.

How? Growth!

The velocity of money changing hands increases. There are taxes collected each time it is earned. A dollar earned by one party then gets spent and earned by another party. The Gov’t collects tax on every dollar earned. In a growth ecoonomy the Gov’t collects more money. Money changes hands faster. Everybody is also happier. Lowering taxes causes growth!!

Linear thinking would suggest that we should just double or triple the tax rate so the Gov’t would have lots more money. However, raising taxes over time leads to less taxes collected. The economy shrinks. People and businesses would leave CT. CT would be taxing fewer people, and the velocity of money changing hands, ie being earned also slows down.

Cutting CT income taxes to zero overnight is probably not practical. Just talking about reducing taxes, and starting to lower the rate would put CT on the path to growth.

A growing economy would really help CT.

Mitch Palais November 4, 2018 at 7:50 am

To reduce property tax you need to

– reduce spending
– moratorium on mandated affordable housing component for new developments that are paid for by tax abatements and reduced property values
– end our sanctuary city policies which have driven education costs and reduced test scores making home ownership in Norwalk less desirable than adjacent communities.

Wineshine November 4, 2018 at 9:32 am

With all due respect to Alex, who’s served tirelessly in the past, a property tax is a property tax. A mil rate knows no boudaries. My middle class owned property is taxed the same as my 1%-er neighbor. In addition, Lamont favors a state personal property tax, in addition to the local tax we already pay. Would someone please explain to me where the relief is?

Piberman November 4, 2018 at 10:43 am

No surprise our former distinguished Mayor favors higher property taxes to offset budget constraint in Hartford. Standard Democratic Party prescription to preserve high salaries/benefits for our devoted public Union City employees who mostly live outside our failing City with its decade long stagnant Grand List, falling property values and major exodus of long time homeowners fearing further property declines.
Attorney Knopp fails to understand like our City officials the consequences of punitive property taxes.
Danbury spends 30% less per capita than Norwalk. Why is that ? Better management and lower public Union salaries. Not rocket science. Actually basic freshman Economics 101.

Democrat Party prescription of ever higher taxes to fund overpaid public Union employees has ravaged our State economy. And created a failing City in Norwalk attractive only to renters, now 40% up from 30%, intelligent to understand the consequences of buying homes here. Lamont would just be Malloy II. Maybe CT voters are smart enough to understand why and how their State is being destroyed. Norwalk will just take a longer time to implement competent management and affordable taxes.

Rick November 4, 2018 at 1:18 pm

Thank you for your service your dedication and your memory loss. This makes it easier to sell the Republican ticket for that I thank you again.

Ron Morris November 4, 2018 at 1:57 pm

Economics 101
You state
Trump cut federal income tax rates and total taxes collected have gone up

Well that is simply not true. Maybe you forgot that number is not even available yet as 2018 the year in which the tax cut too place is still not over. We will not know that number until sometime late in 2019.
Also let us not forget how Dump is increasing the national debt with his tax cut for the very rich, This will have to be paid back at some point when Dump is voted out in 2 years.

CAN YOU SAY FAKE NEWS

Rick November 4, 2018 at 2:30 pm

this was the first fake news ,after this its whom you trust and your work vetting it.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/30/opinion/orson-welles-war-of-the-worlds-fake-news.html

available yet goes to both teams play the same game .

Take Norwalks crime rate, its always a year later, Ct crime rate the same a year later and never factual not all departments participate.

Fake news is not all the facts from all the sources?

Its expected so if you work on facts snf your not working on current facts then what?

To argue fake news one needs to vet and prove facts. Scenarios, card reading, tea leaves and Gypsy like press is just that akso fake news.

Seems like anyone who wants to combat fake news needs to use a degree of fake news themselves.

The world is full of I told you so , Norwalk is full of I told youso.

One sentence two words can touch off fake news its the picture it delivers.

border under siege fact or fake?

Canada warns immigrants in U.S. about heading north of the border fact or fake?

bottom line is money isn’t it? One of your own arguments.

Like it or not the Mall is Canadian money now what?

Bryan Meek November 4, 2018 at 3:30 pm

No stranger to politics, we have a former mayor who presided over supermajority councils and boards that literally gave the store away. We are still trying to get incredible giveaways out of the union contracts that happened back then, like the one where we were providing insurance for ex spouses of administrators.

In fairness, I think Mayor Knopp made sound decisions in creating enterprise entities out of parking and waste water. That said, this argument here is pretty disingenuous. No one is discussing overnight elimination of the income tax. Why does it always have to be an argument from the extreme side of things?

Why can’t we have an honest discussion with ourselves as to why states like Florida and Texas have no income tax, are amongst the fastest growing economies in the developed world, and have higher ranked public university systems that do not cost nearly what Uconn does?

As for Ron, I don’t know why I bother with this partisan {…}. IRS is already on record, reporting the highest revenues ever in the last 12 months, which cover the TRJA enactment period which was retro to Q4 of 2017. And clearly Ron has never had any experience running a business because he obviously doesn’t know the first thing about estimated tax payments that are in those numbers. And this is with lowered revenues from 941 quarterly filings from the lower tax tables. Making the revenues even more incredible. Now to tighten the belt a little more.

Edited to remove an insult.

Andrew November 4, 2018 at 4:37 pm

@Ron, the article is about local property taxes, which are based entirely on local expenses. This has nothing to do with the federal level. Either spending goes down or taxes go up. Your favorite punching bag has no control over the actions or the city council

Ron Morris November 4, 2018 at 4:55 pm

Andrew
I never said it did. I was referring to a comment made by Economics 101 where he said “Trump cut federal income tax rates and total taxes collected have gone up ”
I informed him of the following
Well that is simply not true. Maybe you forgot that number is not even available yet as 2018 the year in which the tax cut too place is still not over. We will not know that number until sometime late in 2019.
Also let us not forget how Dump is increasing the national debt with his tax cut for the very rich, This will have to be paid back at some point when Dump is voted out in 2 years.

CAN YOU SAY FAKE NEWS

Ron Morris November 4, 2018 at 5:02 pm

Bryan Meek

Clearly you are confused. as a CPA one would think that you would understand the numbers mean noting until things are settle at the end of the tax year. As you stated these are estimated tax payments.

KEY WORD ESTIMATED

Also you fail to understand how Dump is increasing the national debt with his tax cut for the very rich, This will have to be paid back at some point when Dump is voted out in 2 years.

I find it troubling that someone so partisan such as yourself is on the school board.

Mitch Adis November 4, 2018 at 6:35 pm

Interesting that a Democratic is crowing about saving $700. Didn’t Nancy Pelosi call this “Crumbs”. There are only a couple ways to lower tax rates – Increase revenue through growth or reduce spending. Democrats haven’t been able to do this since Bill Clinton.

Enough of the insanity in Connecticut. Elect anyone who is not related to or thinks like Dan Malloy.

Mitch Adis November 4, 2018 at 6:39 pm

I can’t wait to see the Democrats crying Tuesday night! Look out – The chickens are coming home to roost.

Economics 101 November 4, 2018 at 7:16 pm

Year over year estimated tax receipts are up. The point is that it may be counter intuitve that gross taxes collected goes up when tax rates go down.

@Ron when you cut taxes then the people that pay taxes pay less. Tax cuts are often for the rich because the rich pay the most taxes. If tax cuts bring a higher total of taxes received by the government does that make you happy? Or do you just not like rich people and want to punish them regardless of results.

It is not possible to cut taxes for people that don’t pay any taxes. 50% of people don’t pay any income tax.

Similarly if property taxes are reduced then renters don’t get a tax break. How could renters get a property tax break if the don’t pay property taxes…

Under your liberal logic cutting property taxes would be an unfair tax cut for property owners.

Bryan Meek November 4, 2018 at 7:19 pm

Ron continues to display his partisan foolishness for all to see. On one hand he says that we can’t possibly forecast tax receipts for the next two months, but on the other hand he is parroting talking points about a ten year projection on debt growth.

My voting record on the school board is quite bipartisan and that is a matter of public record.

Your 100% partisanship and snotty comments are a matter of record on these pages. {…}

Edited to remove an insult.

cc-rider November 4, 2018 at 7:28 pm

Can someone please explain in simple terms how a tax cut is going to solve a massive deficit problem? Revenues will grow SOOO much that they cover the reduced rate and chip away at the deficit?? The recent tax cutting experiment in Kansas did not have the desired outcome right?

Ron Morris November 4, 2018 at 7:59 pm

Ecocomic 101
Under your right wing logic you seem to forget that Dump is increasing the national debt with his tax cut for the very rich. This will have to be paid back at some point when Dump is voted out in 2 years.
You also seem forgot that number is not even available yet as 2018 the year in which the tax cut too place is still not over. We will not know that number until sometime late in 2019.

So in other words right wing fake news yet again.

Economics 101 November 4, 2018 at 8:16 pm

@Ron We didn’t talk about the national debt.

Tax CUTS don’t RAISE anything. Gov’t spending more money than it takes in raises the nation debt, because the Gov’t borrows the shortfall.

Tax receipts are up but so is spending.

Not sure what your point is but I imagine you struggle with math and never studied economics.

My point was cutting and eventually eliminating CT income taxes will cause growth. That growth will be good for CT.

Mentioning Trump was a mistake because it flaired up your TDS.

Please attempt to dispute the fact that reducing CT income taxes will cause growth otherwise we can move on.

Economics 101 November 4, 2018 at 8:22 pm

CC-Rider

Spending is an equal if not more important componemt of the equation.

Policy needs to be thoughtful.

This opinion piece was not.

Ron Morris November 4, 2018 at 9:17 pm

Economics 101
Of courser you didn’t mention the national debit as you must be embarrassed what your right winger Dump is doing to it.

You stated
Trump cut federal income tax rates and total taxes collected have gone up.

I simply corrected you and stated
Well that is simply not true. Maybe you forgot that number is not even available yet as 2018 the year in which the tax cut too place is still not over. We will not know that number until sometime late in 2019.

I also informed you that Dump is increasing the national debt with his tax cut for the very rich, This will have to be paid back at some point when Dump is voted out in 2 years.
SEE HOW FAKE NEWS IS PROVEN FALSE BY MY FACTS

Oh a few more facts

How the Trump Tax Cut Is Helping to Push the Federal Deficit to $1 Trillion

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/25/business/trump-corporate-tax-cut-deficit.html

Trump tax cuts carry a big price tag: Huge debt and risk of another financial crisis, budget office warns

http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-tax-cuts-debt-20180626-story.html

John E. Tobin November 5, 2018 at 10:52 am

I’m pretty sure I wont be taking any fiscal advice from our former State Representative who flew in from a vacation in Chicago to cast a vote in favor of the Connecticut state income tax.

Debora Goldstein November 5, 2018 at 11:14 am

Arguing about hypothetical state impacts to our property taxes may be fun and interesting, but our eyes should be on the local actions right now.

Based upon the recently approved reorg, Norwalk will be paying more to manage the same services. This may look like a hiring spree but these will mostly be filled by the individuals currently doing these jobs for less money.

https://www.governmentjobs.com/jobs?location=Norwalk%2C%20CT&organization%5B0%5D=City%20of%20Norwalk&distance=25

As for the independent authorities that Mr. Meek lauds, the current draft POCD recommends another one to manage stormwater runoff, with the attendant additional charges such an authority requires. And like the other runaway authorities in Norwalk, these will not be connected to the mill rate, but to the costs assumed by a few appointees.

And that doesn’t include the significant, ongoing capital expenses of the BOE’s strategic plan over the next four years.

Norwalk has a “big picture” problem. Too many decisions are made in isolation, and based upon the economic dogma of the day.

Our POCD is full of plans to recruit millennials to come here. These are somehow both economically constrained (school debts with fewer job opportunities), but also big spenders who can afford to Uber everywhere, work from home and order all their stuff off the internet, while spending all their disposable income on Washington Street’s “vibrant” nightlife.

One has to ask oneself why Norwalk’s own millennials don’t fit our requirements for who we want to live here.

Scarlet ohara November 11, 2018 at 10:44 am

Wow,nabce snd bobby. Amazing how you let ronmie getting aeay with derogatory name calling but bot others.
Flag him.

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