SOUTHINGTON — The Town Council waived personal property taxes for Tops Market, which lost its building and the contents in a March fire.
Councilors voted unanimously to waive the $3,462 owed on personal property, citing the supermarket’s donations to a host of local charities over the years.
Tops Market owners John Salerno and Betsy Tooker hope to rebuild but said Thursday that an insurance payout is still $500,000 short of what it will take to reopen.
State law only allows municipalities to waive or pro-rate taxes for personal property in the case of a fire or other disaster. Personal property taxes are levied on items such as equipment and merchandise versus real estate.
“Our Town Council opted to delete the personal property bill in its entirety,” said Town Assessor Teresa Babon.
Tops owners still pay taxes on the Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike property at its land value. According to town records, the land is appraised at $283,230.
Town councilors spoke in favor of waiving the personal property taxes, saying they wanted to support Tops reopening.
“For our community to support them in their efforts to rebuild and to open up to serve the community again in all the ways they do, not just provide groceries, is perfectly reasonable,” Councilor Michael Riccio said during the Tuesday meeting.
Hope to close gap
The vote came as some encouragement to Salerno amid news that equipment would cost more than he expected.
“That was a surprise to me. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for that,” Salerno said. “It was really nice of them to do that.”
The building shell will cost about $1.6 million. That doesn’t include some interior features, such as lighting or the cost to connect the lighting. Salerno is looking to buy some refurbished equipment to bring the total cost down.
Despite reasonable quotes from contractors, Tops Market is still “half a million shy” of what insurance will pay to reopen, he said.
“I’m not sure if I’ll be able to close the gap,” he said. “We are still working hard to close the gap.”
The March 3 fire started near the store’s pizza ovens. The remains of the building were demolished last month and the site has been leveled.