Ridgefield grand list grows 1.1 percent to net $4.9 billion

Ridgefield experienced a slight increase in its grand list because of residential and commercial projects across the town in 2020.

The grand list netted a little more than $4.9 billion, a 1.1 percent increase from the previous year, according to a press release from the assessor’s office.

A grand list measures the value of taxable property that creates revenue for the town to cover its local government and public education expenses, among other necessities. Ridgefield’s list is comprised of three categories — real estate, motor vehicles and personal property — which all experienced upticks from 2019.

First Selectman Rudy Marconi said it’s always good for the grand list to go up, but this year the increase helped the town break even after an extended tax credit incurred additional expenses.

“It’s not a matter of what we’re going to do with it, it’s a matter of thank God for it because we broke even on the additional cost associated with the tax increase,” Marconi said. “It’s additional revenue but the revenue is being eaten up by the increase in the tax credit for seniors.”

Ridgefield real estate raised an additional $39 million in revenue, motor vehicles accounted for an extra $11.5 million and personal properties raked in an $8 million surplus.

Al Garzi, the town’s assessor, said there was more activity in town during 2020 than in 2019.

Despite the number of vehicles declining by 744, the average car price rose from $17,225 to $18,699, elevating the grand list by $11.5 million.

Residential remodels, home additions and new constructions, such as the Atria assisted living facility, were strong contributors boosting real estate.

Atria’s 86-unit facility opened during the summer, offering a variety of care services to seniors. The construction added over $14 million in assessed value to the town’s tax base and $408,000 in annual taxes, which the town expects to rise after other taxable factors become accounted for.

Like other towns in the state, Ridgefield experienced a transfusion of new residents moving in from densely populated areas. The combination of “reasonable” mortgage rates, recent remodels and additions to homes in the area put Ridgefield in demand, Garzi said.

“Money was reasonable and there was a demand to move to Ridgefield,” he said. “Borrowing is so low, it pays to trade up.”

Although personal property grew by approximately 17 percent, Garzi said it continued to be negatively impacted by a 2011 change in legislation.

Municipalities previously offered exemptions to manufacturers for equipment and the state reimbursed towns for the cost. However, in 2011 the state halted these reimbursements despite the continued rule for exemption, Garzi said.

Ridgefield lost roughly $1.86 million as a result of the exemption. Another 725 properties were exempt from property taxes, leaving almost $517 million on the table and reducing the grand list total by roughly 10 percent of its revenue, the release said.

The top 10 taxpayers contributed $478 million to the overall amount. Here is a breakdown of the top taxpayers by rank and how much each raised for the town.