By Josh LaBella
Mayor Nancy Rossi announced last week that the city’s grand list of taxable property has grown by nearly $30 million from 2017 to 2018. This puts the net value of the grand list at over $2.683 billion. The grand list is an aggregate of all taxable property and is used to determine mill rates during budget-making.
City Tax Assessor Ann Marie Gradoia attributed nearly a quarter of the rise to the Yale University distribution center on Derby Avenue.
“They didn’t even begin building the building yet,” said Gradoia. “But we had to combine all their properties and value the land. So that is about eight million dollars added onto that. It will be even more next year when the building is completed.”
Mayor Rossi pointed out that, when the buildings are finished, anything used to furnish them will also count as taxable property. She said Yale did not get any type of tax abatement for the development. Rossi said they asked for one once she got into office but she said no.
“Obviously we’re going to have to take any additional buildings on a case by case basis,” said Rossi. “Because they have a big parcel of land there and the intent is to build more around the distribution center.”
Gradoia also said there were eight or nine new houses built which added to the growth. She said personal property audits have been another major contributor. The city hired the company Tax Management Associates to help do more audits.
“They’ve been pretty aggressive,” said Rossi, “and it’s great because this is all lost money.”
Gradoia said the honor system is used regarding filing personal property taxes and the audits turned up more taxable property. She said some people genuinely do not know what to report on their taxes which can lead to assets going untaxed.
“Everything is taxable,” said Gradoia. “Real estate or personal property. So if you have an empty box, it’s either considered real estate or personal property. It’s got to be one or the other.”
According to a press release, growth occurred across all three taxation districts. In Center, West Shore, and Allingtown the increases were roughly $8.9 million, $10 million, and $11 million, respectively. Mayor Rossi also spoke to the importance of the growth.
“The grand list increase signals economic growth that is critical to improving the long-term fiscal health of the city of West Haven,” Rossi said. “The grand list growth in 2018, although relatively small, is the largest increase in several years and will generate approximately $1 million in new revenue for the fiscal year 2020 budget, which will begin on July 1, 2019.”
The mayor also said the growth is good news for West Haven and their focus on “aggressively pursuing” economic development will result in continued increases this year and moving forward.
“The new construction on the Yale property on Route 34 and the expansion of the Allingtown revitalization are tangible evidence of our recovery,” said Rossi. “We are making progress attracting new business to West Haven and encouraging current West Haven businesses to expand here. Though recovery is slow, we have a plan and are moving in the right direction.”