MAYOR’S COLUMN: A math lesson about taxes

 

 

Published on Sunday, 3 November 2019 19:23
Written by Ellen Zoppo-Sassu

Over the last month, voters have heard “taxes” being discussed. It’s an election year, taxes increased 2.71%, and no one likes paying them.
Buried in all the lingo and terms is an overlooked piece of the tax discussion that our city assessor, Tom DeNoto, often notes when people start comparing communities. The term is “effective tax rate” and is linked directly to every city and town’s mill rate. The effective tax rate is the percentage of taxes to value. Bristol’s effective tax rate is 38.05 (mill rate) x .70 for an assessment ratio or 2.66%. For the purposes of comparison, New Britain’s effective tax rate is 50 (mill rate) x .70 or 3.5%. Meriden’s is 3.01% (43 mills x .70) and Hamden’s is 3.42% (48.86 mills x .70).
So to analyze, if a manufacturing business purchases a building for $800,000 in a Bristol industrial park, their real estate taxes would be $21,280. If that same company bought a $800,000 building in New Britain’s industrial park, their taxes would be $28,000.
If a resident purchased a new Volkswagen Tiguan for approximately $30,000 and registered it at a Bristol address, they would pay approximately $800 in motor vehicle taxes. However, if that same car was registered in the City of Meriden, they would pay almost $100 more.
A single family home in Bristol that is valued at $200,000 pays $5,327 in taxes. In Hamden, a similarly sized community with the same number of children in their school system as Bristol’s, that same home would see homeowners paying $6,840.
So what does this all mean to Bristol residents, other than to illustrate that ALL cities and towns require residents and businesses to pay taxes?
It means that Bristol is an extremely attractive place to live and work. The standard of living can be measured by various standards including our parks, the quality of our neighborhoods as well as our education system. Some fast facts include this data:

The current 2018 net grand list assessments grew by just under $36.4 million total or 0.87%,
There is approximately $42.5 million total assessments (all 3 categories) net grand list growth within the past 2 years.

People are buying new cars. There were approximately 10,000 new model year vehicle registrations added to the motor vehicle grand list over the last year.
We have seen Amazon choose Bristol, as well as continued occupancy at the former General Motors business center on Chippens Hill, despite Bristol not having direct highway access. This type of investment is directly related to companies recognizing the effective tax rate on their business decisions. Recently a company terminated its lease to relocate operations to another town, only to renege and remain in Bristol. They cited value as their reason.
On Route 6, the city is working to develop one of the farmland parcels for future retail development. The Bristol Farms shopping center, home to The Edge and Big Lots, has increased in value by just under $1 million since it was purchased by the current owner in 2017. In downtown, there is an expected 250,000 square feet coming onto the grand list next year.

Our tax collection rate is 99.81%. These taxes not only pay for the city services and programs, but serve as an indicator of financial health and stability. The recent “report card” that the city received by the municipal bond rating agencies also noted the city’s “strong economy” noting the city’s diverse tax base that “continues to experience new and ongoing development.”
Numbers don’t lie. Facts matter. Most of what is referenced above can be found online, on the comptroller’s page on the City of Bristol website where over 36 financial reports are available.

Ellen Zoppo-Sassu is the mayor of Bristol.