Guilford grand list rises nearly $1B

By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff

GUILFORD — The town’s preliminary 2007 grand list shows an increase of nearly $1 billion from 2006, following the revaluation process.

Homeowners should have received their second revaluation notice this past weekend.Anyone who feels that his or her revaluation is inaccurate has until Feb. 20 to file an application with the Board of Assessment Appeals.

Town officials released the grand list Friday. The net taxable list—which includes real estate, motor vehicles and personal property—increased from $2.56 billion in 2006 to $3.475 billion in 2007.

The numbers are still preliminary because people can appeal the new valuations for their homes. Officials calculate the town’s tax rate, the amount of property taxes people pay per dollar, by dividing the amount of money the town has to raise in taxes into the grand list.

The Board of Selectmen held a workshop Friday to begin discussions on the 2008-09 budget. So far, department heads have submitted their budget requests, which the selectmen are now reviewing.
Finance Director Sheila Riegelmann said the jump in the grand list is due to the revaluation, a process that Guilford goes through every five years. From 2005 to 2006, she said, the grand list value increased by about $36 million.

This year, the overall list went up about 36 percent and real estate values increased about 38 percent, Riegelmann said. But she added that most residents should not see big tax increases, unless their assessment rose by much more than 38 percent.

“If someone’s property went up 60 percent for whatever reason, they’re going to see an increase more than they would in a normal year,” she said. “Taxes go up every year because our budget goes up every year.”

First Selectman Carl Balestracci said the town is hoping to keep the budget increase at about 5 percent this year. He added that priorities include staffing for the Police and Fire departments and equipment for the Public Works Department. The Police Department has requested one additional officer, while the Fire Department is looking for four new employees.

“I think most of the selectmen prioritize emergency services first and then other departments after that, because one of the main priorities is to cover the health and safety and welfare of the citizens,” he said.

Balestracci said the selectmen will have another workshop meeting before presenting the budget to the Board of Finance on Feb. 14. The referendum at which town residents can approve or reject the budget is set for April 8.

After that, the finance department will set the official tax rate.

“This is going to be a particularly challenging year because, as a growing town, we have departments that need more personnel,” Balestracci said. “On the other hand, it’s a very difficult year for taxpayers. They have the same problems that we do as a town — their utilities are going up, the price of gas is going up … so (we’re) being sensitive to all of that and still budgeting for enough money to cover the needs of the town.”

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