WALLINGFORD — The town is facing litigation from 26 property owners disputing the recent revaluation, including the town’s top taxpayer Bristol-Myers Squibb, which had its property drop in market value by $13.5 million. The pharmaceutical company announced last year it would be closing its massive Research Parkway facility in 2018.
Appeals following a revaluation are common, said Town Assessor Shelby Jackson.
“When you are doing a town-wide revaluation it’s not unusual to see a higher number of appeals at least that first year following a revaluation,” Jackson said. “The economic times have been bad for the last eight years and businesses are hurting so sometimes it’s not just the value they dispute, they just try to reduce their tax liability.”
The state mandated revaluation resulted in an overall decrease in the value of residential properties, while commercial and industrial properties generally rose in value. As a result, residential taxes decreased by an average of $142, while commercial, industrial property taxes increased.
Jackson said revaluation is based on several factors, including sale prices of similar properties, the cost to construct the property and the income the property generates.
The value of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s 5 Research Parkway facility dropped from $134,600,000 to $121,038,400, Jackson said.
According to the town’s Tax Office, the company was billed for $2,363,055 in real estate taxes and $314,814 for personal property taxes in July. Half of those bills have already been paid, tax officials said.
Bristol-Myer Squibb’s lawsuit alleges the town “improperly determined the true and actual value of and has overvalued and over assessed the property,” and that the resulting tax on the property, “is manifestly excessive and could not have been arrived at except by disregarding the provision and statutes for determining the valuation of the property.”
Gregory F. Servodidio, the lawyer representing Bristol-Myers Squibb, did not return a call for comment Friday.
Jackson declined to comment on the Bristol-Myers appeal.
Bristol-Myers Squibb’s appeal seeks a reduction in its property valuation and taxes in addition to a refund of the taxes it was billed for 2015.
“It’s a very valuable property, it’s the largest taxpayer and it’s a million square feet, so obviously when you have a disagreement over the value of a particular property it has potential for an impact,” said Town Attorney Janis Small.
Other properties that have filed lawsuits include Nucor Steel Connecticut, Inc., 20 Toelles Road, and Infinity Route 5 LP — Lowes Plaza.
The Public Utilities Commission recently altered Bristol-Myers Squibb’s contract with the Electric Division to relieve the company of about $39,000 in charges it would have otherwise been contractually obligated to pay. The company pays for use of the town’s infrastructure but does not purchase power from the town, instead purchasing it directly from the wholesale market.
Commissioner Patrick Birney defended the PUC’s decision as abiding to an implied, “covenant of good faith and fair dealing,” stating it was not the intent of the original contract to raise the company’s rates unless fees were raised for customers across the board. Democratic Town Councilor Jason Zandri attempted to veto the decision at the Council’s Tuesday meeting, which would have required seven votes from the council within 15 days of the PUC’s action. The motion ultimately failed with only Zandri and Republican Councilor Craig Fishbein voting in favor of the veto.
Bristol-Myers Squibb has its property listed for sale on Binswanger.com.