Revalued grand list dips as Kleban tops GE with highest-valued properties
Total value of the town’s taxable properties declined about 1.8 percent in 2015, the result of a recently completed townwide revaluation, with new data showing that General Electric — which plans to abandon its Easton Turnpike headquarters in favor of Boston — was dislodged as the most highly taxed property owner by the local real estate development company that wants to buy 68-acre campus.
According to the Assessor’s office, the town’s net grand list assessment for 2015 stands at $10,781,433,240, a 1.77 percent decrease from the 2014 net list of $10,975,624,915. The 2015 values do not reflect any adjustments that may be made by the Board of Assessment Appeals.
Kleban and Regency-Kleban Properties, LLC, which own a large portfolio of commercial properties in the downtown business district and along Black Rock Turnpike, saw its holdings surpass the GE property’s value and took the top spot on the new grand list, with a total assessment of $75,627,594, slightly lower than the Kleban 2014 assessment of $76,286,593.
General Electric, which last month announced plans to leave the corporate headquarters it has maintained in Fairfield for 42 years — and traditionally paid the largest local property tax bill during that time — saw the assessed value of the Easton Turnpike property decline to $70,792,220 in 2015, down from $76,541,780 on the 2014 grand list.
Kleban Properties’ owners announced shortly after GE revealed it planned to leave Fairfield that they are interested in acquiring the 68-acre property in northern Fairfield, with hopes of developing a multi-tenant technology hub and educational center.
As for the year-to-year decline in the overall grand list, Assessor Don Ross said, “in 2010, the same thing happened,” which was the last time a townwide property revaluation was conducted. And the primary reason the bottom line is lower — the grand list also includes personal property and motor vehicle assessments, in addition to real estate — is because real estate makes up the bulk of the list, the assessor said.
The number of taxable properties in town, he said, hasn’t really changed.
Real estate alone, Ross said, shows a 2.2 percent decrease on the 2015 grand list from a year earlier.
However, both the personal property and motor vehicle values increased.
“New car sales have been huge,” Ross said. And although the number of personal property accounts is about the same as in 2014, Ross said, the rise in those values “tells me companies are now acquiring new equipment.”
Fairfield’s motor vehicle list is assessed at $520,741,780, a 4.61 percent increase over the 2014 value of $497,788,472. The latest vehicle count of 48,470 increased from the previous year’s 47,941.
In general, the U.S. auto industry set new vehicle sales records last year, Ross said.
Personal property — furniture, fixtures, machinery and equipment owned by commercial enterprises — is primarily attributed to equipment acquisitions by GE, Southern Connecticut Gas and United Illuminating, according to Ross, as well as an increase in small business equipment purchases during the past year.
The personal property assessment for 2015 is $287,070,950, a 3.29 percent increase over $277,928,600 a year earlier.
After Kleban Properties and General Electric, the rest of the top-10 taxpayers on the newly issued grand list, with one exception, are either real estate developers or utility companies. The lone residential property near the top of the list is once again the Sasco Hill estate owned by Bradley and Karin Jack, with an assessment of $21,889,910, putting the waterfront property in the tenth spot.
FAIRFIELD’S TOP TAXPAYERS
Following is the list of the top-10 property owners, ranked according to assessments on the recently released 2015 grand list:
Kleban and Regency-Kleban Properties, LLC, real estate investors and managers, $75,637,594
General Electric, corporate headquarters, $70,792,220
CL&P, electric utility, $57,810,180
Alfred Lenoci and associated partners, real estate investors and managers, $55,267,970
Aquarion Water Co., water utility, $54,710,020
United Illuminating, electric utility, $37,623,130
Southern Connecticut Gas Co., gas utility, $26,897,030
Roberts Real Estate and associated partners, real estate investors and managers, $25,550,624
Robert Scinto and associated partners, real estate investors and managers, $23,361,900
Bradley and Karin Jack, residential homeowners, $21,889,910
Here are links to earlier FAIRFIELD CITIZEN reports on the town’s grand lists: