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    Office Of The Mayor
    Mayor's Monday Message

    This week, I announced details of a Homeowner Fairness Initiative to alleviate the impact of property value increases for owner-occupied residential properties in the latest revaluation.

    The Homeowner Fairness Initiative will immediately implement all decreased property values, while phasing-in increases in property values over five years for owner-occupied residential properties. The phase-in would be based on 2010 property values, the values used as the basis for the most recent tax bills. The proposal will require state enabling legislation as well as Board of Aldermen approval.

    The Homeowner Fairness Initiative will be a component of my proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2012-2013, to be submitted to the Board of Aldermen on March 1. The proposed budget will include only slight expenditure growth, and will limit tax revenue to the existing level of taxes, plus any additional tax revenue from net new growth in the Grand List. With the proposed phase-in, my proposed budget will set the mill rate for Fiscal Year 2012-2013 at 40.56.

    Property values are based on fair market value, and it is fair for tax bills to reflect that. But it is also fair that we consider reasonable and affordable measures to mitigate large shifts in value that impact homeowners at a time when we are all feeling the effects of a challenging recession. I look forward to seeing you at a community meeting soon to discuss this proposal and the City budget as a whole. Look for a special edition of the Mayor's message on Thursday, March 1 with more details on my proposed budget.

    What is Fair?

    The Homeowner Fairness Initiative is based on four principles:

    Property taxes should reflect current market values;

    Decreases in property values should be implemented immediately;

    Homeowners who would experience significant tax increases due to significant increases in the fair market value of their home should be protected;

    The tax levy should be limited to the amount collected in the current fiscal year, plus new revenue resulting from new growth in the Grand List.

    What Were the Options?

    Those four fairness principles were considered when reviewing choices for implementation of the 2011 property revaluation. Those choices were: do nothing and fully implement the 2011 revaluation as required by state statute; implement the only option permitted under state statute: a phase-in of all values; or seek state enabling legislation to enact the lower values immediately and cushion homeowners from increases through a phase-in.

    Revaluation Background

    Revaluation is a state-mandated process of determining the fair market value of all taxable property. State law mandates that municipalities perform a revaluation every five years, and a full visual revaluation once every ten years. The last revaluation was performed in 2006 based on a statistical analysis of market values. That revaluation was only partially implemented. The 2011 revaluation included a statistical market analysis as well as interior inspections that were performed between summer 2010 and summer 2011.

    Of the 20,701 residential properties in New Haven, 46 percent increased in value in the latest revaluation, while 54 percent decreased. When considering only owner-occupied residential property, 28 percent experienced an increase. While more properties decreased in value, the size of the increases outpaced the size of decreases.

    Next Steps

    In the future, we must continue to grow the mill rate and control expenditures. These are challenging times for New Haven families, taxpayers, and employees, but the difficult decisions and prudent financial choices we have made over the past several years have made it possible this year to produce a budget that continues to advance our core mission as a City while decreasing our mill rate.

    Community Input

    The Homeowner Fairness Initiative was drafted after gathering community input from eight public meetings throughout the City late last year, and from weighing the impact to all taxpayers. The Mayor will continue to seek community input on the Homeowner Fairness Initiative and the budget at four public meetings. Those meetings are:

    Saturday, March 3 at 11 a.m. at St. Bernadette's Church Hall

    Wednesday, March 7 at 6 p.m. at Wilbur Cross High School

    Thursday, March 8 at 6:30 p.m. at Lincoln/Bassett School

    Saturday, March 10 at 10 a.m. at Mitchell Branch Library

    Here's What's Going on in the Elm City This Week...

    Feb. 28. Fantasy Ridge the Ultimate Everest Challenge. Join Kurt Diemberger who climbed Mt. Everest for a lecture. Wilbur Cross High School 6-8:30 p.m.

    Feb 28. Yefim Bronfman, piano. Morse Recital Hall in Sprague Hall. 8pm. $18-$28. http://music.yale.edu/concerts

    Feb. 29. Wednesday Walks. All walks meet at the Parks Administration Office. Be healthier with a Ranger guided stroll through Edgewood Park. This easy hikes are intended for people of all hiking abilities. Hikes are free and appropriate for ages 5+. Family's welcome. 720 Edgewood Avenue 9:30-10:30 a.m.

    Feb. 29. Climb the Lighthouse. $3.00 per person fee. Pre-registration for programs is requested by the Park Ranger Staff for planning purposes. Contact us at (203) 691-3539. Lighthouse Point Park. 10-11 a.m.

    Feb. 29. Learn to use the compass at Barnard Nature Center. Pre-registration for programs is requested by the Park Ranger Staff for planning purposes. Contact us at (203) 691-3539. Barnard Nature Center located on the corner of Route 34 and Ella T Grasso Boulevard. 3:30-4:30 p.m.

    Feb 29. Yale Jazz Ensemble presents "Homegrown: Jazz by Yale Composers". Morse Recital Hall in Sprague Memorial Hall. 7:30-9:30pm. www.yale.edu/yaleband/yje/schedule.html

    Mar. 1-3. New Haven Theater Company presents Waiting for Lefty. 118 Court Street. www.newhaventheatercompany.com.

    Mar 2. English Country Dance. Recital Hall $10. 8-10pm. http://neighborhoodmusicschool.org

    Mar. 2. Bach's Brunch: "Something Old, New, Borrowed & Blue: Music for Piano, Four Hands". Neighborhood Music School Recital Hall. 12:10pm. www.neighborhoodmusicschool.org.

    Mar. 2. CT Folk First Friday: Pierce Campbell and Phil Rosenthal. 1st Presbyterian Church. $15. www.ctfolk.com/fridays.html

    Mar. 1. Therapy Dogs. Daisy and Rudy listen while you read to them! Come to Fair Haven Library on Thursday afternoons and sign in for your own special reading times with these two loving and gentle dogs! Fair Haven Library. 4:30 p.m.

    Mar. 3. Saturday Strolls-Three Judge's Cave. Be healthier with a Ranger guided stroll through some of New Haven's most beautiful Parks. Family's welcome. Hikes are free and appropriate for ages 6+. For more information or to register call 203-946-6559. Meet at West Rock Nature Center. 10-11:30 a.m. or 12:30-2 p.m.

    Mar. 3. Family Fun. Come to the library and enjoy stories and crafts as a family! Main Library. 11 a.m.

    Mar. 3. Staying Put. Join architect Duo Dickinson and news anchor Ann Nyberg as they discuss the challenges and solutions for people who want to transform their houses without breaking their budgets. Copies of Duo's book-"Staying Put" will be available for sale and signing at this free event. Main Library. 3 p.m.

    Very truly yours,

    John DeStefano, Jr.


    Contact Name: Elizabeth Benton

    Contact Email: ebenton@newhavenct.net

    Contact Phone: 203-946-8200


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