It’s perhaps interesting to realize that Blue Back Square, which is still a big construction site, is already the town’s biggest taxpayer, as The Hartford Courant points out in today’s paper. It’s assessed for $39.7 million while Westfarms (or, more accurately, the portion of the mall that’s in West Hartford) is worth a paltry $35 million. Corbins Corner Shopping Center is just behind at $34.6 million (that, by the way, is something I really should write about soon).
It’s encouraging to know that Blue Back will pay a lot more in years to come. In fact, we can be sure that next year’s grand list will rise sharply solely from that development. Blue Back’s soaring value is the best argument for phasing in the impact of revaluation, because it alone will pick up at least the rising expenses in town for the next year or two. That’s remarkable, and proves the tax argument for doing the project was right on the money (whether the social and eventual community impact will be as positive remains to be seen).
It’s scary, though, to see in the Courant’s generally mediocre story that commercial property is going up 49 percent in value while residential values went up a staggering 77 percent during reval. That means the shift in the overall tax balance from commercial owners to homeowners is going to be quite severe.
I’m not sorry my house is worth a lot more. In fact, given how dismal the rest of my finances are, I’m grateful for it. But it’s not hard to imagine property tax bills that climb out of sight as a result — perhaps so much that paying them becomes a burden many of us can’t handle.
I recognize,of course, that the town itself can’t provide the relief that will make this doable. Only the state can shift the tax burden around so that ordinary homeowners, whether they live in West Hartford or Bridgeport, don’t sink under the weight.
I give credit to our town’s leaders for at least trying to build the tax base with Blue Back and lesser projects that can take some of the sting out of those tax bills.