Please, Norwalk, buy my car

Norwalk thumb exerciser 002
You should know what you’re getting, Norwalk. This is a thumb exerciser. It comes free with the car!

NORWALK, Conn. – If the governor has his way, I will soon share the same taxpayer status as Mayor Richard Moccia: I won’t pay any taxes to the city of Norwalk, either.

As a renter, the only taxes I pay are on the vehicle I own. The governor would like to exempt vehicles that are worth less than $28,500. A whole lot of people in the city of Norwalk are going to be off the hook!

Except — guess who decides how much your car is worth?

The city. If past experience is a guide, I may be in for a tax bill anyway.

I drive around town in the adult equivalent of a bounce house, a car with shot rear shocks, which makes the hills around here extra special. I like my car. It’s a 1991 Toyota Camry that a friend in Florida gave to me (yes, I performed the death-defying feat of driving it here; a mechanic thought not, although at that point the shocks were fine). The radio doesn’t work and I have learned to hook my finger into the hole that used to contain the door latch so I can get out. Only one of the windows works, but it’s the one I happen to sit next to, so I’m good.

Oh, I got to show how clever I am when I figured out that I could lock the doors, although the electronic mechanism is broken. I stand outside and turn the key in the lock, all the levers go down. I am so good.

Last year, the city of Norwalk said my car was worth $2,450. (Yes, I said $2,450, not $24.50.)

I still have the car. Who knows, maybe it’s an antique. It’s value may have gone up!

That’s not all! According the city, it’s worth more than my husband’s 95 Buick Century, a car that we actually will drive to New Jersey (with a working radio!). His car – which locks from the inside – was worth $1,627, which is really amazing since he only paid $1,500 for it a year and a half before that. He put 20,000 miles on it and the value had gone up! We are so good.

I did not realize my car is so valuable. Now here’s my question – you know what’s coming – will Norwalk kindly buy my car? At the price specified? If so, I will be able to buy the $1,300 mini-van I have been coveting AND have enough left over to get the 46-inch flat screen TV I desperately desire. I could even buy a new recycling bin from the city and make life a little better for those City Carting guys.

Or, can I get 13 of you to be as kind as my Florida friend and give me a car in similar condition to my valuable Camry? If so, maybe I can get the city of Norwalk to trade me. I will offer 15 cars worth $2,450 — an entire FLEET! —and the city can give me Mayor Moccia’s almost-new Ford Edge, which was worth $30,000, last I checked.

There’s a bonus! The city will collect more in taxes from me.

It’s a win-win. I’d like a four-wheel drive. And we’ll be much safer when we head for my mother’ s house near Atlantic City. This is important as I know you all want me back, especially those in city government.

Anyway, we Chapmans are clearly valuable taxpayers for the city of Norwalk, even given our lowly status. If you don’t believe me, check out the third tax bill that arrived at our door last year. Our son, who lives with us, owned a 1995 Grand Marquis. It was worth $2,205. This is spite of the peeling vinyl on the roof.

But my Camry is still worth more. Maybe you’d like to buy it? But, let’s be honest. There’s a hole where the radio used to be. I took out the radio and tried to fix it but failed. Why bother putting it back? (It did create an interesting conversation with a police officer one day. He thought I might have been the victim of a theft.)

The Camry has an extra feature I have not mentioned. It’s a guaranteed adrenaline boost – sometimes it stalls, I never see it coming. (“C’mon car, go!” Especially fun in traffic.)

But perhaps you’d like the more economical Buick at $1,627.

Darn. Its value may have dropped. Just this afternoon the left turn signal broke. Could the city of Norwalk be prescient? Maybe it is charging us per blink?

But if you’ll excuse me, I have things to do. I think I’d better go clean out my car – you’re all going to be looking at it now, right?


23 responses to “Please, Norwalk, buy my car”

  1. Bryan Meek

    Older cars are going up in gross assessed value because the cash for clunkers program destroyed so many would be serviceable cars. I don’t think NOrwalk spends a whole lot of time thinking about what your car is worth and instead is just going off a national database.

    But if the point of this column is to point out how silly car assessments are it accomplishes something else.

    This is a perfect example of those who could possibly be duped into thinking Mr. Malloy’s car tax gimmick benefits them.

    After that tax burden shifts to those who happen to own rental properties, it is only a matter of time before rents are increased.

    Then don’t forget the hundreds of millions in new energy taxes that Malloy is pushing forward. Trust me CL&P and the petroleum industry isn’t going to eat those. Then don’t forget about the gas tax going up in July another 3 cents.

    I could go on, but bottom line is don’t rush out and buy that flat screen just yet.

  2. LWitherspoon

    As a renter, you do pay taxes, even if you don’t get a tax bill from the city. The landlord uses your rent money to pay the taxes. So any action to increase property taxes will eventually increase your rent.
    Is it true that the Mayor pays no taxes in Norwalk? What is the basis for making that claim?

    1. The idea that I pay taxes as a renter has crossed my mind, but I’m thinking it’s trumped by the law of supply and demand. The landlord (God bless him, he’s nice) is charging the going rate, which is what I believe the market can bear. If every landlord raised the rent, he’d be able to do it, too. But unless there is uniformity he won’t be able to get away with it. The housing stock in Norwalk is going up, correct? Maritime Yards added housing, and Waypointe appears to be on track. Supply is growing. I don’t know if landlords will be able to raise rent anytime soon.
      Plus, I don’t know if the economy-challenged renters of Norwalk can take the hit of increasing rent. Bridgeport isn’t far and it’s a whole lot cheaper. Raise the rent, people will leave. My opinion.

      As far as I know, the mayor does not pay taxes in Norwalk. He wasn’t paying any last spring and I haven’t gotten any emails saying that he’s paying them now. His wife owns the condo they live in and he doesn’t need to own a car.

  3. Tim T

    My understanding is that Moccia does not own property in Norwalk and does not pay rent. I have heard his wife is the property owner. Also he does not pay car taxes as he has a city car. I think everyone remembers the new car he got when the old one hit 40000 miles..Nice if you can do that with someone else’s money.
    Maybe this would help explain his lack of caring and disrespect towards the tax payer.

    1. Tim is correct regarding the mayor’s role as a taxpayer. He doesn’t own property, neither real estate or a car. You can verify that he doesn’t pay taxes by going to the city’s website and going to “tax bill look-up” { http://my.norwalkct.org/eTaxbill/ } and putting in Moccia.
      This usually comes up during election season.
      IMHO, the mayor should buy my car — I’ll give him a deal, just HALF what the city says it’s worth — register it and let it sit in the driveway. Then at least he’ll be able to say he pays taxes! $60 a year, no more annoyance!

      (I hope you can all see this is a joke.) (But you can do it, mayor!!! Just HALF the assessment! I’ll take it!)

  4. Joe Espo

    Nancy: are a journalist or are you a campaign manager for one of the four dems running against the Mayor?

  5. LWitherspoon

    I did the search and it shows a home and car in Barbara Moccia’s name, with taxes up to date. So the Mayor’s household is in fact paying taxes, even if the property isn’t in his name. Doesn’t seem fair to criticize the Mayor for that, since there are a number of valid reasons why married couples would have assets in the name of just one spouse.
    I can see how someone with an agenda would try to make this technicality into an issue, and if I remember correctly there were Daily Voice commenters bringing it up during the last election but no actual news stories addressing the issue, so I didn’t take it seriously. I’m a bit surprised to see the item find its way into the lead paragraph of this article, without any clarifying explanation.

    1. I’m not criticizing. I’m just saying. The mayor and I had a conversation about this issue last spring and he did not deny that he doesn’t pay taxes. The condo is “in his wife’s name.” I’m not going any further than that with personal details.
      The article is intended to be lighthearted opinion piece, more like satire. It should be taken as such.

  6. LWitherspoon

    On the subject of rent, you might be right about supply and demand. I had heard that there was upward pressure on rents because a large group of homeowners had to become renters after the financial crisis, but the generally sick economy seems to have acted as a counterweight to that. In any event, passing along a property tax increase would probably only require raising your rent by $15 per month or less. It would cost more to move than to simply pay the increase. On the other hand, your landlord sounds like a nice guy and if he raised your rent I don’t think you would write such kind words about him in NancyonNorwalk!

    1. It’s been awhile but I just ran across the story I wrote about our landlord: http://norwalk.dailyvoice.com/news/norwalk-landlord-puts-act

  7. Bryan Meek

    Nancy’s point about more apartments being built perfectly explains why the incidence of taxation (who pays ultimately) is most definately the renter in Norwalk at least. The fact more apartments are being built indicates there is a demand for apartments and they can raise prices up to a certain point. It will be interesting to see if one of the unintended consequences of Malloy’s gimmick is a reduction in the amount of apartments. If the builders can’t recover the costs being shifted to them they may decide to build in other states.

  8. BARIN

    I got a great laugh out of it, I certainly didnt see it as criticizing, a sense of humor is nice to have.
    My cousin is looking to rent his Yugo; any takers?

  9. Tim T

    LWitherspoon states

    “Doesn’t seem fair to criticize the Mayor for that, since there are a number of valid reasons why married couples would have assets in the name of just one spouse.”

    Please tell us some of these valid reasons why the “mayor” of a city would not be a taxpayer in that city??

    Also you state
    “I can see how someone with an agenda would try to make this technicality into an issue”.
    It seems that you are the one that is attempting to make this issue a non-issue. Why is that?

  10. Tim T

    Also let us not forget that Moccia has illegally banned residents that are behind on their car taxes from using the beach.

    Tell me this is not hypocritical when he is not even a taxpayer in Norwalk

    When the beach was deeded (gifted) to the city the stipulation was that you had to be open to ALL CITY RESIDENTS. The mayor cannot just arbitrarily make laws. With this in mind the city is in violation of the gift that it was given as in the beach. How can you argue with that? What’s right is right..


    CODE OF THE CITY OF NORWALK, CONNECTICUT, v177 Updated 02-15-2012
    ARTICLE I, EN Calf Pasture Beach and Other City ParksEN [Adopted 5-14-1957, effective 5-25-1957]

    § 74-1. Free admission for residents and property owners. [Amended 7-9-1996]

    All vehicles of residents and property owners of the city shall be entitled to free admission to the Norwalk public park system, except as otherwise provided herein.

    § 74-2. Season ticket for residents and property owners of certain towns. [Amended 5-10-1977; 7-14-1981, effective 11-1-1981]

    All vehicles of residents and property owners of the Towns of New Canaan, Wilton, Weston, Redding and Ridgefield shall be entitled to a season parking privilege ticket to Calf Pasture Park from May 23 to October 1 in each year for a sum to be set pursuant to § 74-24 of the Code of the City of Norwalk.

    § 74-3. Parking fees. [Amended 6-12-1973; 6-8-1976; 5-10-1977; 7-14-1981, effective 11-1-1981]

    A.For all vehicles of persons other than those provided for in the two preceding sections, a parking fee of a sum to be set pursuant to § 74-24 of the Code of the City of Norwalk shall be charged from January 1 to December 31 in each year. [Amended 7-13-1982]

    B.Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Common Council may from time to time, by resolution, change the parking fees set out herein or may waive their imposition during short periods of time for special occasions or events.

    § 74-4. Stickers for certain residents and property owners. [Amended 7-13-1982; 2-22-1983; 7-9-1996; 4-8-2003; 2-22-2005]

    A.The City will provide a different color sticker for each of the following:

    (1)Residents and property owners of the City.

    (2)Residents of the surrounding towns named in § 74-2 of this Code.

    B.The sticker shall be prominently and permanently displayed as required by the Recreation and Parks Department and shall be nontransferable. Failure to display said sticker in a prominent and permanent manner as required by the Recreation and Parks Department shall be grounds for refusal into Calf Pasture Park, unless the nonresident fee is paid.

    C.No fee shall be charged to Norwalk residents or property owners for a park sticker.

    § 74-5. Waterfront parking. EN

    No vehicles other than those owned by residents or property owners of the City sark in the parking place along the waterfront.

  11. Diane C2

    BARIN, my first car was in 1978 (I started driving at advanced age!) and was a 1974 AMC Gremlin. Mustard Yellow. 3 speed. Two hands and all my might to shift to reverse.
    I kind of miss that ugly clunker……

  12. jlightfield

    Regarding the access to ht beach. Anyone can walk into Calf Pasture Beach. In order to get a resident sticker used for having your car parked at the beach or access to the transfer station, you must have your city property taxes paid. As far as policy goes, its not a bad one.

  13. Tim T

    I suggest that you read the city charter above..It’s not a matter if you or anyone else thinks its a fair policy as it against the city charter and against the ones that gifted the beach to the city.. Also many of these people pay property taxes which are much higher than car taxes and the property tax may be current with escrow… Also this illegal activity is only in regards to car and not property taxes.

  14. Tony D

    A brief run through Kelly’s Blue Book (available online) shows that any of these is a good rough value for the cars mentioned. The city isn’t inspecting every car for scrapes and dings, cars are assessed and depreciated against standards. As far as the tax issue…are we kidding? The Moccia family pays its bills. Do a quick scan of the tax records for Travis Simms, Warren Pena, or David Watts and you see a history of late or no payments, resulting in extra fees and liens in most cases. The list gets longer.

    As far as admission to the beaches, payment of car taxes is certainly a minimum reasonable standard and not against anything in the charter.

    (This comment has been edited according recently posted comment guidelines – editor.)

  15. Tim T

    Tony D
    “As far as admission to the beaches, payment of car taxes is certainly a minimum reasonable standard and not against anything in the charter”.

    I will tell you the same thing I told jlightfield

    It’s not a matter if you or anyone else thinks its a fair policy as it against the city charter and against the ones that gifted the beach to the city..
    Also you say the Moccia family pays its taxes..That very well may be true however we are not talking about the Moccia family. We are talking about the Mayor. As far as I can see the mayor pays zero taxes to Norwalk. If you see otherwise please post a link to that. I don’t expect that we will be seeing that link as it does not exist.

  16. Tim T

    Tony D
    Have someone read the code book to you that I posted above. Please tell me where it says that car taxes must be paid as a stipulation of a resident pass.

  17. BARIN

    @Tony D
    Many Americans are struggling to pay for not only taxes, but mortgage/rent, grocery bills, health care, you name it.
    I take offense to your comment, this could happen to any one of us, with liens and bankruptcy.
    A little empathy goes a long way Tony.
    This conversation is silly, Mr. Moccia frequents local shops and restaurants, so he is putting money back into Norwalk’s economy.
    The fact is, he has been in Norwalk a long time.
    All of this from a comedic article, focus people; focus.

  18. Carol Andreoli

    So much for investigative reporting! My husband and I own two properties in Norwalk . One is a vacant lot listed on the city’s website as being owned by me. The other a single family home is listed only in my husband’s name. However, both properties are owned by both of us. This can be verified by doing a title search. So, while I consider this issue ridiculous, I just wanted to set the record straight that a tax bill lookup does not necessarily list all owners of a particular property.

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