February 8, 2005
By OSHRAT CARMIEL, Courant Staff Writer
Hartford's list of taxable
property has declined, despite a flurry of development in
When the city took a snapshot of its "grand list" last
October, a new Wal-Mart was close to completion, a portion of
the Colt building was renovated and occupied by a data management
company and several housing units were rising downtown. But that
growth in real property value was offset by the accounting vagaries
of a few large businesses and the problem of being a state capital:
The amount of state-affiliated (and, therefore, tax-exempt) properties
continued to grow.
All told, when tax season comes around this year, Hartford will
be relying on $43 million less in taxable property than it did
last year, according to the recently released 2004 grand list.
"We have to make up for that someplace," said city
Finance Director Thomas Morrison, who ticked off two solutions
- an increase in taxes or a decrease in spending.
The grand list finalized last week shows that the value of taxable
property in Hartford declined from $3.5 billion in 2003 to $3.46
billion last year, or a decrease of 1.2 percent. Taxable real
estate was up slightly by 0.14 percent, as were motor vehicle
values, which rose by 4.4 percent.
But that growth was offset by a $57 million decrease in the
value of personal property, which is all the equipment and supplies
used to run a business.
City Assessor Lawrence LaBarbera says the decrease in personal
property was influenced by three companies that reported dramatic
decreases in personal property last year.
UnitedHealthcare reported $15 million in taxable personal property
- half of what it reported the year before, LaBarbera said.
UnitedHealthcare spokeswoman Debora Spano said that the decrease
came because the company realized that its software was not taxable
under personal property.
"We overpaid in the previous year," Spano said.
MCI also reduced by $6 million the amount of personal property
"They've moved some of [their equipment] out of the city
to other offices, not in Hartford," LaBarbera said.
The city is completing an audit of MCI's reporting, he said.
A tax appeal on a third property, an energy plant on Capitol
Avenue that no longer produces energy, meant a devaluation of
that property's value by $11 million in the eyes of the city
Then there's the usual story line for Hartford come grand list
time: The amount of tax-exempt property grew last year - by $47
Of that, $39 million is in state exempt properties, which includes
the value - as of Oct. 1 - of the partially built convention
center and hotel at Adriaen's Landing, LaBarbera said. It also
includes a building on Washington Street, once assessed at $1.9
million, that the state is now leasing.
"They called us up and said, `The state's leasing it, it's
exempt now.' We're like: `OK, there's nothing else to say,'" LaBarbera
Also included in this year's tax-exempt list are the new Boys
and Girls Club on Sigourney Street, a magnet school on Woodland
Street and a new church housed in a former warehouse on Wethersfield
Of all the real property that makes up Hartford's grand list,
43 percent of it is tax-exempt.
"This is a big thing for us," Morrison said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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Top 10 Hartford's Top 10 taxpayers
and their total assessments (real and personal property)
1. Hartford Fire Insurance & Twin City Insurance,
2. Travelers Indemnity Co., $103,765,560
3. Connecticut Light & Power, $97,727,400
4. Aetna Life Insurance Co. & Annuity, $89,622,850
5. CityPlace I LTD Partnership, $65,100,000
6. State House Financial, $53,265,870
7. Hartford Steam Boiler, $43,750,930
8. Bank of Boston, CT, $41,073,410
9. Talcott II Gold, LLC, $38,138,900
10. Fleet Bank NA (Fleet Boston Financial), $37,506,970