Tax revaluation: Notices out, hearings through Dec. 23

It’s not junk mail.

Envelopes have been arriving at homes all around town — revaluation notices from the town of Ridgefield.

“Notices are in the mail and the informal hearings are taking place,” Town Assessor Al Garzi said this week. “It’ll be a Town of Ridgefield envelope.”

After an 18-month revaluation process, the informal hearings are property owners’ opportunity to question and discuss the change to the value the town puts on their property for taxation purposes.

“Each homeowner is going to get a notice of the old number, the new number, and where to go and who to call to set up an appointment,” Garzi said.

“Any concerns, please bring them to the informal hearings with the reassessment company,” he said.

The new assessed values have been determined by eQuality Valuation of Waterbury, a firm authorized by the state to assist towns with revaluations.

“Obviously, I review everything that comes in to the informal hearings,” said Garzi, “so I’ll be reviewing everything to make sure it reflects market value and it’s accurate.”

The hearings take place in the town Recreation Center off Danbury Road.

The hearings started Wednesday, Dec. 13, and run weekdays and Saturdays through Dec. 23: weekdays — Dec. 14-15 and 18-22, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturdays, Dec. 16 and 23, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“You’ll be able to make an appointment by going on the Web or by calling. There’ll be a phone number to call and there’ll be information on how to get to the website to make an appointment as well,” Garzi said.

Though informal, the hearings can lead to changes.

“A representative will sit with you for 10 or 15 minutes and go over all the concerns you have. Then the files will be brought back to the assessor’s office at the end of the hearing and we’ll go over it,” Garzi said.

“And a decision notice will be sent out, so the taxpayer knows if their concerns were addressed or not,” he said.

Approaching $5 billion

The town’s grand list of taxable property currently totals about $4.7 billion in assessed value, Garzi said.

The new grand list isn’t complete.

Residential properties have all been valued — “I would say 8,500 single-family homes and about 1,300 condominiums,” Garzi said — leading to the notices and hearings that are starting.

But other portions of the grand list still have to be done — commercial real estate, motor vehicles, and the business machines and equipment taxed under the title “personal property.”

So Garzi won’t have a firm idea of the new grand list’s total until next year, probably around the second week of January.

Garzi’s also reluctant to say whether most properties’ assessments are going up or down.

“It’s hard to say, there’s changes all over the place,” he said.

“The assessments are supposed to reflect 70% of market value as of Oct. 1, 2017,” Garzi said.

And the new numbers won’t affect current taxes. They’ll be the basis of taxes for the 2018-19 fiscal year, July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019.

For the first time, the revaluation involved photographing houses, as well as measurements and comparisons.

The new values reflect sales prices of similar properties in town, and the neighborhood.

Generally around 300 or 400 people seek hearings.

Lawyers aren’t needed.

“No, it’s informal,” Garzi said. “It’s meant to be that way so there’s no pressure on anybody.”

Eventually, people do have the right to contest numbers formally before the Board of Assessment Appeals — but that’s later.

The current hearings are more collaborative.

“People are usually pretty good,” Garzi said. “They know what their houses are worth.”