Fairfield takes hit from GE departure, but still grows

FAIRFIELD — The town’s grand list of taxable property for 2017 showed another modest increase, but that increase was less than the previous year, due to the sale of General Electric’s corporate headquarters to Sacred Heart University.

The total grand list, which includes real estate, personal property, and motor vehicles, is $12,055,711,497, and 0.43 percent — or $52,566,243 — increase over the 2016 net list of $12,004,145,254.

Assessor Ross Murray said the increase was offset by the change in the tax status of the former GE property on Easton Turnpike. Added to the 2017 grand list was Trademark Fairfield, the mixed-use development on Commerce Drive, which earned BRCD Holding, LLC, a spot on the top ten taxpayer list.

Real estate alone increased $19,157,809 from $10,039,679,276 to $10,058,837,085, an 0.19 percent increase, while the town’s motor vehicle list dropped 0.22 percent. In 2016, motor vehicles totaled $521,062,628. For 2017, that list’s value is $519,927,160.

Personal property, which includes things like business equipment, machinery and furnishings, increased $394,562 from $297,154,710 in 2016 to $519,927,160 for 2017. Again, Murray said, the increase was offset by the exit of GE.

The first four spots on the top taxpayer’s list are taken up by utilities — Connecticut Light & Power, United Illuminating, Aquarion, and Southern Connecticut Gas Co.

The list is changed from previous years because it was run directly off the department’s computer program. In the past, the assessor’s office would put together the top list manually, adding together a developer’s holdings that had different LLC names. For example, last year’s top taxpayer was Kleban and Regency - Kleban Properties LLC, real estate investors and managers with a total property assessment of $75,552,919. Those properties include the various buildings that makeup downtown’s Brick Walk.

Growing the town’s grand list was a focus of First Selectman Mike Tetreau’s annual State of the Town address last week. Tetreau suggested that the town needs to look at expanding commercial zones in targeted areas or possibly increasing the value of existing commercially-zoned property. That could be achieved, Tetreau said, by increasing building heights in certain areas, for example.

Republican Town Committee Chairman James Millington called the grand list growth “weak, especially when compared to other towns where the growth has been substantially higher and is resulting in a reduced tax burden on residents.”

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Top 10 taxpayers for 2017

Connecticut Light & Power $56,217,510

United Illuminating $44,641,940

Aquarion Water Co. $34,487,170

Southern Connecticut Gas Co. $33,048,320

Bradley and Karin Jack $21,772,310

Aquarion Water Co. $19,969,610

BRCD Holding, LLC $19,635,200

Toyota Lease Trust $18,899,000

T-C Kings Crossing, LLC $18,115,790

VW Leasing LTD $16,237,330

The GOP also focused on the need to grow the grand list in its response to Tetreau’s annual address. Representative Town Meeting Deputy Minority Leader Michael Herley, who delivered that response, called the grand list growth “anemic.” He said the first selectman has failed to address transit issues and “clean up traffic jams” to attract businesses.