By TAYLOR HARTZ
When totaling up this year’s Grand List, Southington completed a reassessment of the entire town in addition to evaluating new construction. Adding up real estate, motor vehicle, and personal property assessments, the town released a grand net total of $3.9 billion in taxable assets.
The Department of Assessments used the Grand List to rank the highest taxpayers in town, with EverSource, Yankee Gas Services, Yarde Metals, Home Depot, and R.K. Southington (Queen Plaza) earning the top five spots. EverSource was assessed at $83 million in taxable assets, more than the other top 5 companies combined.
Overall, this year’s assessment showed a 1.92 percent increase from the 2014 totals.
Town Assessor Brian Lastra said the $73 million increase ($73,393,091) in total property value could be attributed to this year’s assessment having two components, including the revaluation.
“The two activities, the reassessment and picking up new homes new buildings, that’s really what drove the change,” said Lastra.
The town’s consultant, Municipal Valuation Services, finished meeting with individual property owners on Feb. 10, after reviewing 325 properties in town. The assessment noted a 2.02 percent increase in real estate value in 2015.
“In general, the increase in net real estate assessment is due to a combination of the revaluation of existing properties as well as the continued and robust new construction and subdivision activity,” said Lastra in a letter to Town Manager Gary Brumback.
In his letter to Brumback, Lastra described these changes in two categories—physical changes and equalization changes. “Physical” change refers to a change in value due to construction on a property, while “equalization” change concerns the revaluation of parcels that have experienced little to no construction activity.
Physical changes contributed to 49.8 percent of the assessment changes in 2015, while equalization contributed to 50.2 of the changes.
Lastra said that although little inflation has occurred in the real estate market in 2015, Southington saw increased interest in retail property on Queen Street and experienced a growing demand for apartment properties.
In 2015, the assessed value of commercial properties increased by 5.31 percent, while the 26 large apartment complex properties saw an increase of 39.65 percent in value, far surpassing any other style of property in town.
Lastra described motor vehicle assessments as “a moving target” involving cooperation with the Department of Motor Vehicles. The assessor said that ownership of school buses, service buses, and large trucks may have appeared to drop, from 44,125 in 2014 to 43, 707 in 2015, but he based that change in large part due to incorrect registrations.
Overall, motor vehicle value increased by 0.58 percent, which Lastra said may be due to lower gas prices leading to vehicles retaining their value.
Personal property saw an increase of 2.64 percent in town, making up the majority of total changes for the town’s overall property values. Lastra said that this increase may be due to “infrastructure build-out” by companies such as EverSource and Yankee Gas Service, while “tenant fit-outs” from IHOP, Geno’s restaurant, and Noodles & Company may have also contributed.
Once the 2016-2017 budget is adopted by the Town Council, the Board of Finance will use the Grand List to determine any adjustments needed to the town’s mill rate before the third Monday in May (May 16).
For a full breakdown of the Grand List assessments, see Lastra’s letter to Brumback below: