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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Wallingford Grand list is up, but not economic optimism

As published in the Record Journal, Wednesday January 30, 2013

By Russell Blair
Record-Journal staff
(203) 317-2225

WALLINGFORD – Its grand list grew slightly last year, but officials say the town still hasn’t experienced widespread economic recovery.

The net taxable grand list grew by $38.8 million, or 0.93 percent, in 2012. At the current tax rate of 25.98 mills, the town would receive about $1 million more in tax revenue for the 2013-14 budget. One mill represents $1 in tax on every $1,000 of assessed value.

The annual grand list is a tally of all taxable property in town, including real estate, motor vehicles and personal property: equipment and machinery used by businesses.

Assessor Shelby P. Jackson III attributed much of this year’s growth to the completion of the Campus at Greenhill, at 110 Leigus Road. Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield relocated its headquarters to the office building and brought about 850 employees to the site.

“Now fully constructed, this property has added $10,184,300 in assessed value to the grand list,” Jackson wrote in a letter to Comptroller James Bowes.

But Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. said the economy is still struggling.

“I don’t think there’s been a recovery,” he said. “It’s stabilized at a new level.”

Wallingford saw a 0.78 percent decline in the motor vehicle grand list, something Jackson said hasn’t been seen in previous years. There were 469 fewer vehicles registered in town in 2012 than in 2011. But Jackson said neighboring towns, including Cheshire and Meriden, have seen shrinkage in their motor vehicle tax rolls.

Taxable real estate rose by 0.81 percent and personal property increased by 4.16 percent.

In addition to the Campus at Greenhill, Jackson mentioned a few other commercial properties built in the past year, including a CVS, a TD Bank branch and a retail plaza anchored by a Naugatuck Savings Bank branch, all of which were built on Route 5.

“Things are looking a little bit better,” Jackson said.

“We’re holding our own,” Bowes said. “It’s nothing terrible, but nothing great.”

Dickinson said the grand list is key to setting the budget for the next fiscal year. While the town knows how much money it will receive from local tax revenue, officials won’t know if state aid will be cut this year until Gov. Dannel P. Malloy unveils his budget next month.

Dickinson expects another difficult budgeting process.

“Municipal aid is on the table,” he said. “You don’t have to take a course in reading tea leaves to know it’s going to be a challenge.”

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