There’s a bipartisan call in Connecticut for reform of the property tax system. But there’s less agreement on how it should be changed.
A forum in Hartford Thursday wrestled with ways to reduce the property tax burden on local communities in Connecticut.
Economist Fred Carstensen of UConn says there’s a very wide variation across the state in how much people pay in property tax.
“It’s a differential of fivefold in terms of the burden. And it’s almost strictly true that the higher the effective property tax rate in any given town, the lower the income level in that town. So it is also a very very regressive tax. It is the lowest income households in Connecticut that pay the highest property tax rates.”
House Minority Leader Larry Cafero says reform of the system can’t be implemented without curbing local spending, perhaps in the form of a property tax cap.
“The municipalities, the mayors and first selectmen will say hey, the costs of running local government have gone up, I need more money, the state isn’t giving me enough, so therefore I have to raise property taxes. But there’s never an issue of how much are you spending. What is the control you sir or you ma’m, first selectman or mayor, that you are exercising within your local government as to how much you spend.”
Representative Brendan Sharkey, who’s a Democrat, says its time for Connecticut’s 169 towns to work together.
“We need to have a coordinated view of where we want to bring the state, but we also have to get those different elements of our economic development initiative and policy coordinated with each other, so that we can promote regional solutions that allow towns to work together to help save costs.”
The forum, broadcast live on WNPR’s Where We Live, was sponsored by the Connecticut Association of Realtors.
Listen to the entire Where We Live show on property taxes.