NORWALK, Conn. — Norwalk’s Grand List is down $167.5 million in net taxable value, a 1.1% decrease.
Tax Assessor William Ford pegs the 2021 Grand List total net assessment at $14,940,705,232 versus $15,108,214,790 in 2020. The 2022 gross value is $15,182,731,112.
Some recent history:
- 2022 Grand List: $14,940,705,232, 1.1% decrease
- 2021 Grand List: $15,108,214,790, 2.45% increase
- 2020 Grand List: $14,972,207,943, a 1.65% increase
- 2019 Grand List: $14,728,523,380, a 2.51% increase
- 2018 Grand List: $14,368,125,568, a 16.5% increase, due to the property revaluation
Physical changes – demolition, construction, or renovations – resulted in a $179 million increase to the real estate portion of the 2022 Grand List, “based on development projects at various stages,” the City said in a statement. There was a $121 million decrease to the Grand List due to court stipulations, resultant of people filing appeals of their valuations.
“A total of sixty-four property assessment appeals were settled between January 1, 2022, and today, with eight properties receiving no change in value,” Ford said in a Feb. 28 memo to Mayor Harry Rilling and Norwalk Chief Financial Officer Henry Dachowitz.
Additionally, land consolidations resulted in a $20.45 million decrease to the real estate portion of the 2022 Grand List, the City said.
“Land consolidations include commercial and condominium development projects, as well as residential parcel combinations,” the City statement said. “These consolidations are the natural course of events for the development of commercial and condo properties. Condos do not have land value as a line item in the Grand List. Additionally, when a large parcel or several small parcels are combined and converted to land associated with building condominiums, the value of that land is lost.”
The City said:
“With respect to large commercial projects, such as apartment buildings, and commercial ventures, these combined larger parcels tend to have a reduced value compared to the value of smaller parcels that existed individually before they merged.
“Moreover, since many of the land consolidation projects in the 2022 Grand List are either mid-construction or not fully leased, the value is still developing and, therefore, less than it will be in future grand lists. Our last revaluation was in 2018, and we cannot recognize the increases in the real estate market until the 2023 revaluation is complete. At that time, some of these decreases will potentially be recaptured.”
The net taxable value of personal property decreased $304.7 million while motor vehicle taxable values increased $99.6 million, Ford’s Grand List memo shows.
Ford attributed 65% of the personal property decrease to the pandemic. His memo states:
“Personal Property is property and equipment used by business. These accounts are valued using an original cost less depreciation, with the depreciation schedules per State Statutes, Rules and Regulations. Personal Property accounts will typically decline in value over time since new acquisitions do not outpace the depreciation on most of the assets.
“There is a larger than usual decrease in the Personal Property Grand List this year. The primary driver for these changes is because of the 2021 Personal Property value included penalties on businesses that filed declarations after the November 15, 2020, deadline. When a business fails to file their Personal Property declaration by the due date, a 25% penalty is added to the value of the property. This year, due to pandemic-related circumstances, these penalties were removed once businesses filed their declarations, reducing the net taxable Personal Property Grand List by $198 million.”
He outlined personal property changes:
- Adjustments to the 2021 Grand List made by the Board of Assessment appeals: 11
- Reactivated accounts: 4
- New accounts and declining values: 9
- Penalty for late filing: 2
- Business closed: 30
- Corrected declaration/penalty removed: 243
- Court stipulation: 3
- Duplicate accounts: 17
Ford has said he faced 435 assessment challenges when he took the job in 2020.
In November, SoNo Collection owner Norwalk Land Development LLC settled its assessment appeal with the City, online Court records show. On Oct. 1, 2021, the mall’s total market value was calculated at $430,897,829 and its assessment was $301,628,480. The settlement changed the total value to $385,000,00 and the assessment as $269,500,000.
The mall’s tax bill is complicated by its location in an Enterprise Zone, subject to tax breaks on a sliding scale over time.
Bloomingdale’s, one of the mall’s anchors, challenged its personal property assessment, reaching agreement in August to reduce it by about half, from $16,818,790 to $8,261,543.
Dachowitz addressed personal property assessments in a December email to NoN:
(a) “Personal Property valuations used for tax purposes are based on a gross acquisition value minus depreciation. Since depreciation increases each year, valuations on existing personal property normally will decline each year.
(b) “During COVID, numerous businesses went out of business – the valuations of their personal property are deducted and reduce our prior year totals.
(c) “During COVID, businesses acquired less new personal property due to (i) the uncertainty of the economic environment, and (ii) problems with the supply chain and difficulty obtaining delivery of this equipment.”
A property revaluation is underway. In light of the problems, Common Council members agreed to a Finance Department proposal: commercial and residential properties will no longer be evaluated by the same company.
Vision Government Solutions was hired to revalue Norwalk residential properties, in a $900,000 contract. Commercial properties will be revalued by Safeground Analytics Inc., at a cost of $160,000.
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