The Hartford city council’s decision to phase in the 2006 property revaluation over five years was not an ideal solution to the city’s tax problems. But it beats the alternative, which was to do nothing.
Doing nothing would have slapped many small businesses in Hartford with immediate tax increases of as much as 200 percent, perhaps enough to drive more than a few of them out of the city or into bankruptcy.
City officials and business owners had sought relief from the state legislature in the form of a one-year moratorium on implementing revaluation while a workable solution to the painful effects could be hammered out.
But the legislature failed to act, leaving the city no alternative but to take matters into its own hands.
Some state lawmakers have suggested that the General Assembly might take action during the coming special session on the state budget, but that’s not guaranteed.
Concerns have also been raised that the council’s action might be ruled illegal by state budget authorities. State officials, however, should have alternate plan if they overrule the city’s decision.
The phase-in plan adopted by the council restricts tax increases over the five-year period to 20 percent. Tax decreases will likewise be spread out in equal portions over five years.
A 15 percent surcharge on commercial properties has also been cut in half to 7.5 percent over five years and is set to be eliminated entirely in the sixth year.
In the absence of a state solution, businesses will pay their fair share of the revaluated tax burden over time, as opposed to no increase at all or – worse yet – paying it all at once.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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