Norwalk Prepares For Wave Of Appeals Of Property Values

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Those interested in filing assessment appeals can sign up for appointments at Norwalk City Hall through March 20.
Those interested in filing assessment appeals can sign up for appointments at Norwalk City Hall through March 20. Photo Credit: File

NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk’s Board of Assessment Appeals is preparing for a wave of assessment challenges spurred by last year’s property revaluation.

Last year, Norwalk hired Vision Government Solutions Inc. to conduct a revaluation of the city’s properties. State law required municipalities to carry out revaluations every five years, to adjust for changes in fair market values used in property tax assessments. Those assessments are then used to calculate property tax bills.

As a result, three of Norwalk’s six taxing districts will see lower taxes on average this summer if the mayor’s budget plan goes through as-is, Mayor Harry Rilling said Monday. But two taxing districts will see “slight increases,” Rilling added, while the Sixth Taxing District (Rowayton) will see “a significant increase.”

“However, the good news is there’s been a slight shift in the tax burden from residential to the commercial side, and hopefully with the developments that are moving forward, we’ll see that continue to happen more frequently,” Rilling said.

In the reassessment Norwalk’s total residential property value dropped 12.3 percent compared with the year before. Commercial properties still declined, but by a less steep 1.0 percent. Overall the evaluators predict that the revaluation will lead to a “modest shift of the tax burden away from residential properties.”

South Norwalk saw the steepest declines in value, with property values decreasing by 16 percent in the neighborhood overall. Rowayton saw the smallest declines, with a 4.9 percent decrease overall and some areas increasing in value on average, according to the presentations offered to homeowners last fall.

About 18 percent of residential properties saw values go up since the last revaluation in 2008. The Board of Assessment Appeals is the next step for taxpayers who think their assessment is too high.

“While changes in assessed values have stirred adverse public reaction, and even political upheavals, revaluations are an integral part of sound assessment systems. If properly conducted, they benefit assessors, local administrations, and taxpayers alike,” the Connecticut Association of Assessing Officers writes in its guide to the revaluation process.

The Board of Assessment Appeals is a three-member council appointed by the mayor with the Common Council’s approval. The board hears arguments from the property owners or their attorneys and the city’s assessors to determine if properties were assessed at an incorrect value. The board is the last step before taking the issue to Superior Court.

Those interested in appealing can sign up for hearings by 5 p.m. March 20.  Available hearing times are available at the city website.  The hearings will take place weekdays from April 1 to April 11.

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