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16 Lowest Mill Rates in Connecticut

Towns big and small make our list of the lowest mill rates in the state.

Graphic by Aaron Boyd.
Graphic by Aaron Boyd.
The slideshow above counts down the 16 lowest mill rates in Connecticut — the towns with the lowest property tax rates, if not the lowest property values.

For instance, while many of the lowest mill rates were from smaller towns, larger suburbs like Greenwich and New Canaan also make the list. Property values are higher on average in those towns, leading to larger grand lists and lower mill rates.

(Property taxes are calculated as the number of mills for every $1,000 of assessed value. A home in No. 2 Greenwich valued at $500,000 has a property tax bill of $5,337.50; a home of the same value in No. 15 Bridgewater has a bill of $8,750.)

The list does not include boroughs, fire or special tax districts in the mill rates.

Next week: 16 Highest Mill Rates in Connecticut
Glenn Brown January 20, 2014 at 08:26 AM
Aaron, can you provide a source for this? I'd like to see where Brookfield and the surrounding towns fall on the list.
rich saluga January 20, 2014 at 09:26 AM
The problem in Brookfield is that the valuation was and is flawed - in many cases, high value properties are being valued at half (in some instances) their real value, thus lowering the grand list and increasing the mill rate. Hopefully the new town leadership will address the inequity this year!
Cindy January 20, 2014 at 09:28 AM
Ditto Glenn's comment. And I'd like to know where the majority of tax dollars is spent. I'd like to see new roads as the streets I drive over every day are in sad shape (all seasons- winter the worse).
Aaron Boyd (Editor) January 20, 2014 at 09:40 AM
The 2012 Grand List file for the 2014 fiscal year: http://www.ct.gov/opm/cwp/view.asp?a=2987&q=385976.
Gretchen Wells January 20, 2014 at 12:05 PM
I really find the comparison of taxes on a $500K home in Greenwich and one in Bridgewater laughable considering that according to Trulia.com, the median price of a house in Greenwich was $1,425,000 (45 sales) for the period of Oct '13 to Jan '14 versus the median price of a house in Bridgewater which was $250K (3 sales) for the same time period. Additionally, the town assessment of the property value varies greatly from the actual appraised value.
Gretchen Wells January 20, 2014 at 12:05 PM
Per Zillow: Assessed Values vs Appraised Values Many people confuse assessments and appraisals. An assessment is the value placed on a property by the town or city's assessor's office for the purpose of determining the property tax due. An entire town will be assessed during a 4-12 month period with values determined by a team of qualified assistants after viewing properties and interviewing owners. The combined assessed value of all the town properties is then used to calculate what the tax rate will be. Each year the town may re-evaluate the tax rate to obtain the monies needed to run the town based on that combined assessed value. So tax rates may change from year to year but assessments usually do not. Only when assessed values become so outdated as to cause tremendous inequities between properties will a town reassess. The need to do a new assessment must warrant the expense. In some states, homes are reassessed each time they are transferred (sold), but that is not true in most New Hampshire towns. An appraisal is a report done by an appraiser to determine value. The appraiser will use recently sold prices of similar properties making adjustments for differences between the subject property and the comparables. They will usually combine this "Market Approach" with a second method such as "Cost Approach" (determining the cost to rebuild) and/or "Income Apprcoach" (used on properties that produce income) to determine Value. Appraisals are done most commonly when a property is to be financed or refinanced, but may also be requested for a variety of other reasons. Assessed value and appraised value will usually not be exactly the same on a property as the appraised value takes a snapshot in time and will be impacted by market activity.
rich saluga January 20, 2014 at 07:36 PM
Ms. Wells: It is a nice attempt but I believe you've not made the issue any clearer. May I suggest that you can look at this in a very simple manner: the appraised value is what most people regard as the 'real' or 'actual' value of a property. By law, the assessed value by a town is 70% of the appraised value (so the two values will never be the same!)...An example of the inequity problem I mentioned in the earlier post would be the following: A lakefront property worth well over a million dollars is (wrongly) valued by the town as worth $750,000. It is then taxed at 70% of its value (70% of $750,000 = $525,000), while it sells months later for 1.5 million dollars (what most would say was/is its' real value). Had the appraisal been done properly, the town would have assessed the property at closer to a million dollars (not the $525,000), so you see where the property owner was able to pay less taxes while others in the community had to pay more because of the error. If similar poor appraisals occur in dozens of town properties, you can see how the inequities mount.
Ajack February 03, 2014 at 06:49 AM
Live in Fairfield and have witnessed years of poorly done appraisals. Brought in photos of neighbors homes with converted garages etc. Then showed the assessor the appraisal. Sputtering and stuttering by the town officials and appraisers......caught them in the act. They do a crappy job folks. I'm in the business.They don't jive at all in a lot of cases. How many wealthy people get a break and how many average citizen gets kicked in the grease by a flawed process. Ought to be that a home owner has the option of getting three appraisals from independent , non government biased appraisers and then submit the lowest to the town to determine what should be the tax base. Government AT THE PEOPLE is what we have today.
Clare February 03, 2014 at 09:55 AM
Call me stupid (and I'm sure I will be) but I don't understand how some towns are on both the highest and lowest lists. How can that be?
Carol Quish February 03, 2014 at 10:48 AM
I would like to see the equalized mill rates.
Ken Johnson February 03, 2014 at 11:51 AM
The reason a town can be on both the highest and lowest list is that a low mill rate assessed on an expensive property achieves the same net result as a high mill rate on a less valuable property. What is most important to the taxpayer is that he/she pay a fair share of the taxes generated by the grand list. The (re)valuation process employed by towns in CT is seriously flawed. Errors occur more often than they should. The above example of the undervalued lake property resulting in a lower than fair tax bill is typical. Errors are just as likely to occur on the other end of the spectrum. Typical examples include a modest property in a neighborhood of more valuable properties being given an arbitrarily high assessment or an owner of wetlands being taxed at the same rate as the owner of a build able lot thereby unfairly burdening the taxpayer. Towns convene appeals boards each year to allow taxpayers to address these inequities. In practice, nothing is done at these hearings unless there is a glaring error on the tax card such as, .5 acres being listed as 5 or 1500 sq. ft. listed as 15,000. The appeals process advances to the state level after (and only after) this sham local hearing denies the appeal, which is almost always the case. Once at the state level the taxpayer must hire an attorney to navigate the appeals process or risk losing the appeal on a procedural error. This added expense keeps most taxpayers from excersizing their rights. Additionally, the State encourages towns and taxpayers to come to a compromise. Even when the taxpayer has irrefutable evidence cases rarely go to court, reducing the taxpayers relief. If the taxpayer refuses a settlement and the case advances to the next level, the added expense of legal representation often times leaves the taxpayer with a bill larger than the tax relief would be. This system is seriously flawed. There should be a third party mediation process to examine these common errors with authority to amend an individual's tax bill based on the evidence. Towns are fully aware of the onerous and daunting process faced by the taxpayer and are loath to make changes in a process that clearly favors the local government. there is no incentive for the town to address these inequities when even the legal cost to towns is born by the taxpayer. Our only remedy to this problem is to elect mayors and first selectmen willing to do the hard work of fairly assessing the properties within their jurisdiction. Sadly, most officials filling these positions, either elected or appointed are unwilling to do the right thing by the taxpayer.
Tom Lines February 03, 2014 at 02:56 PM
Mill rate is completely 100% usrless as a way to compare taxes between towns. It is irresponsible for Patch to even show susch a list. Only proper way woud be to show sa Examples that show apraised value, market value, ACTUAL taxes, and the date the last townwide appraisal was done. this is the kind of irresponsible reporting that gets the public all tied up in knots.
Cheri Ann Pelletier February 03, 2014 at 04:51 PM
If we really want accuracy and fairness...then we should do completely away with the revaluation process. It costs towns millions and as stated does not reflect an accurate representation of property value at the time of sale. Instead I would suggest a system that taxes only on the sold value. In the in between years of a sale again occurring the homeowner should be taxed the cost of living above their set tax rate. This would hold towns budgets to a reasonable increase rate yearly and when the property sells next an additional raise in taxes without relying on excessive mill rates. Our elderly and fixed income residents would not see tax bills that exceed their ability to pay and buyers who set their home purchase levels stay on pace with their investment. Just a thought...
Yankeelover February 10, 2014 at 12:29 PM
@Cheri Ann, you are on the spot with your suggestion and comment. I hope you can express this idea to more people.

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