MERIDEN — Informal hearings for taxpayers are continuing after property revaluation notices were mailed out, prompting concerns from some homeowners who saw their assessments increase drastically.
Municipal Valuation Services, the firm contracted by the city to complete the property revaluations, is overseeing the informal hearings. The hearings are being held in room 130 at City Hall until Jan. 26. Officials indicated additional days for hearings may open up if demand exceeds available appointments.
Property owners who wish to challenge the determinations of the informal hearings may file an appeal with the Board of Assessment Appeals.
Municipal Valuation Services leaders previously shared an analysis of the firm’s revaluation findings, which looked at residential home sales from Oct. 1, 2020 to Oct. 1, 2021.
The firm’s analysis of residential property sales found prices had increased between 21% and 34%, depending on the type of property sold. For example, mobile home sales increased by 30%, according to the firm’s report.
Republican City Councilor Michael Carabetta, reached Thursday afternoon, expressed disappointment about the timeline of the revaluation cycle.
The deadline for scheduling a hearing was Friday.
“I didn’t receive my letter until two days ago,” Carabetta said. “I wish there was a way to give residents more time to schedule an informal hearing.”
Carabetta acknowledged the assessor’s office, faced with the workload that comes with a revaluation, was understaffed throughout the process.
“The one thing I wish we would have seen more of is just a little more information coming out to the residents,” Carabetta said. “It seems like myself and the mayor were the only ones putting things out there.”
Fellow Republican Councilor Dan Brunet, the minority party leader, said the distribution of revaluation letters “has been done rather haphazardly.”
“I received my letter on Saturday. I think many others it was even later than that. It’s a short time frame,” he said. “It seems to be unnecessary with all the time they’ve had.”
Brunet said the mill rate is “going to have to go down” with the type of assessment increases — tens of millions of dollars — the revaluation is showing.
Brunet promised to push for a significant mill rate decrease.
“We’re doing to do whatever we can… to generate a bigger mill rate decrease,” he said.Homeowner concern
Matt Holmes, who owns a single family house near South Meriden, said his recent assessment notice showed the property had doubled in value since the last assessment five years ago. He requested an informal hearing. At that hearing, he brought photos and other evidence which showed some discrepancies in determining the property’s value.
But Holmes said he left the hearing uncertain about what determination would be made.
“The ball is in their park. It’s whatever they decide. You hope for the best essentially,” he said.
Based on the valuation, Holmes expects a significant tax increase, unless the council greatly reduces the city’s mill rate. Holmes said he presumed the new valuations would lead to increased taxes, which “really hurts the lower middle class the most.”
“In order for the mill rate to cover [the assessed value] doubling, it would have to be cut in half,” Holmes said.Too soon to tell
Meriden officials previously told the Record-Journal they expect to finalize the city's grand list of taxable property by Feb. 18.
City Manager Tim Coon said all revaluation notices were sent in the mail two weeks ago.
City Councilor Michael Rohde, a Democrat, said he had received numerous emails from residents regarding the increases shown in their revaluations.
Residents expressed concern about increased taxes because of the new valuations.
But Rohde and others said it was too soon to say exactly how the latest assessments would impact the city’s grand list and the setting of a mill rate.
“I think it has to play out,” Rohde said. “We have to get the budget and determine the mill rate. The major concern is the taxes will go up and will be commensurate with how the value of the houses go up and that’s just not the case.”
Several residents took to social media to post concerns about their property values having increased.
Meriden resident Jason Bruenn, who lives on the west side of the city, said his revaluation showed his property’s value had increased by $35,000.
“In today’s housing market, it just means my house is worth more,” Bruenn said.
Bruenn said he knows one thing for sure: “You will see a mass exodus if they keep the mill rate equal to what it is now.”