Ben Barnes, Governor Dannel Malloy’s state budget director, shares some insight into how the governor’s proposal to eliminate taxes on vehicles would impact taxpayers and municipalities trying to make up the revenue loss. He wrote to OIB on Sunday “on the subject of cars taxes, I did a little homework” following a chorus of concern from residents and city officials about this provision in Malloy’s budget proposal now before the state legislature. He writes on the whole most residents would benefit, but nods seniors and businesses would receive the brunt, adding steps could be made to protect seniors.
The data I used came from two sources. First, the CT OPM website (www.ct.gov/opm) that has a spreadsheet of all the components of each town’s grand list. The data is a couple of years old, but these things change slowly, and I can’t get into the office to track down more current information because they haven’t plowed my street. The second is the Vision Appraisal website that shows current assessments on all Bridgeport real estate.
Motor vehicles make up $375 million out of Bridgeport’s $7.2 billion grand list. Today, the mil rate is 41.11. If I remove 95% of the motor vehicle assessments (because some cars and trucks are worth more than $28,500), and recalculate the mil rate to generate the same amount of money, the mil rate goes to 43.25, an increase of 5.2%.
Next, I looked up the assessments on three houses. First, on Hallock Street in the North End. At $136,300, the tax is $5,603. With the mil rate at 43.25, the tax will be $292 higher. If I calculate correctly, if the owner of that house also owns a car (or more than one) worth more than $10,150 (market value) then she will come out ahead.
The next house I looked up is in Black Rock on Lake Ave, assessed at $248,700 and taxed at $10,224. The owner will see a tax increase of $532, still well below the single car exemption of $822.
Third, I looked up a very fancy home on Brooklawn. Assessment: $386,500; tax: $15899; potential increase: $827. Even that taxpayer, if she owns more than one car, or has a new car, would break about even or come out ahead.
I appreciate a homeowner on a fixed income and no car would struggle a little more under this change. I also understand the businesses and non-resident property owners who would make up the taxes are stressed already. In balance, I think this change will help places like Bridgeport, and most of its residents. Maybe we need to consider other steps to protect seniors, for instance. In any event, that’s why we have a legislative session every year–to debate policies and proposals, and sometimes to improve them and pass them into law. This proposal deserves such debate.
On another note, the Governor’s combination of PILOT into ECS does NOT trigger increases in education spending because the Minimum Budget Requirement language in the proposal exempts that funding. Nothing in the governor’s budget does anything new with respect to making Bridgeport spend money on education. It’s the same formula as last year in that respect.