Letter: Ridgefield: Please lower property taxes, help residents

Hearst Connecticut Media Letter to the Editor graphic 

Hearst Connecticut Media Letter to the Editor graphic 

Contributed photo

To the Editor:

The Town of Ridgefield should lower property taxes next year. 

Property taxes, coupled with inflation and recessionary pressures, have squeezed families’ wallets. Ridgefield’s mill rate, the tax per dollar of assessed value of a property, has increased five of the past six years and ballooned 37% over the past decade – outpacing inflation.  Meanwhile, Wilton and Darien each cut their mill rates in two of the last four years. 

It’s been sad seeing family friends, RHS classmates, and many Ridgefield cops and firefighters who protect Ridgefield opt to live in other Connecticut towns with friendlier property taxes. 

Lowering property taxes does not mean Ridgefield needs to reduce investment in our community. With strategic choices, we can rely less on property tax for overall revenues like Westport (75%, compared to Ridgefield’s 84%).

We can make up the funding with alternatives for new revenue, like investment income. Over the past 5 years, New Canaan and Wilton have used investment strategies to generate more than $815K annually in investment income on average, more than double Ridgefield’s $405K. 

Other income could include fines for false security and fire alarms, often due to owners failing to schedule annual inspections. Last year, Greenwich collected almost $200,000 in fees for false alarms; Ridgefield budgets only $1,000 annually. Greenwich charges for every false fire alarm after the first instance; Ridgefield doesn’t impose fees until the fourth false alarm. As a Ridgefield Volunteer firefighter dispatched to many repeat false alarms, I know we can use our resources better.

Ridgefield could renegotiate leases of town property to private companies. Market research suggests that Ridgefield is undercharging one company about $100,000 annually.

Residents can vote on mill rate increases, but unfortunately turnout hovers around 10%. By cutting property taxes, Ridgefield can provide a more compelling choice for residents.

Indra Sen

Ridgefield public school graduate, Ridgefield resident, and Ridgefield volunteer firefighter