Mid-Year Car Tax Increase Coming

Thomas Breen photoNew Haveners will receive a slightly higher mid-year car tax bill in January 2018 as the city looks to stay within budget without cutting social services, in the face of reduced state aid.

Board of Alders President and West River Alder Tyisha Walker-Myers revealed that news to neighbors at Tuesday night’s Dwight Community Management Team meeting, which was held at its regular monthly location in the gymnasium of Amistad Academy on Edgewood Avenue.

Walker-Myers told the two dozen attendees that the city will send out semi-annual car tax bills in January 2018 that will reflect a mid-year increase in the local motor vehicle mill rate from 32 to 37 mills. That means that residents will pay $37, rather than $32, for every $1,000 worth of assessed value for their cars.

That’s a mid-year adjustment for the fiscal year that began July 1. Taxpayers have already paid a car tax bill for the first half of the fiscal year based on the 32 mill rate.

“Depending on what kind of car you have, what year and all of that stuff, some people might see a $12 difference or an $18 difference,” Walker-Myers said. “But if you have a Benz or a BMW, I don’t know how much you’re going to pay, but it’s going to be more.”

Mayoral spokesperson Laurence Grotheer Wednesday confirmed the plan, which hadn’t yet been publicly announced. He said that the motor vehicle mill rate will be adjusted to 37 mills effective Jan. 1, 2018, and will apply only to the second half of the fiscal year.

Grotheer said that the city expects to raise an additional $978,000 in revenue this fiscal year through this tax increase.

The city currently allows residents to pay their annual car tax bill in two installments: half in July and half in January. Grotheer said that this upcoming motor vehicle mill rate increase will apply only to the January payment, which covers the latter half of the fiscal year.

He said that the increase from 32 to 37 mills means that motor vehicle owners will pay $5 more per $1,000-worth of assessed value.

For example, if a person has a car that is assessed at $10,000, then the supplemental bill at the new 37 mill rate in January, covering the car tax for just the latter half of the fiscal year, would be $25. That would be on top of the $160 January tax bill that the city had already sent out based on the 32 mill rate.

“Everyone knows that this has been a challenging year at the state for resources,” Walker-Myers said at Tuesday night’s meeting, alluding to the 17-week-late Connecticut budget that state legislators passed at the end of October after months of fractious debate.

Much of the debate came down to how much of the brunt cities and towns should shoulder of the state’s looming multi-billion dollar projected deficit.

When the state Senate and General Assembly finally passed a two-year budget for Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019, Mayor Toni Harp and her budget team estimated that the city could face as much as a $10 million gap in expected municipal aid.

Without sharing many details on the current state of the city budget in relation to the state budget, Walker-Myers did say on Tuesday night that the motor vehicle mill rate increase would help shore up some of the reductions in state aid. She also argued that the increase was not as bad as it could have been.

In fact, she said, the Board of Alders voted to set the motor vehicle mill rate at 37 mills when they approved the city’s budget back in June 2017.

But that desired rate was thrown off kilter by a provision in a previous state budget that set a car tax cap of 32 mills for all cities and towns in Connecticut starting in July 2017.

Instead of pursuing an underfunded state reimbursement program that would have allowed the city to set its car mill rate higher than 32 mills and then seek state aid for the difference between the cap and the actual local rate, the city decided to send out its car tax bills this summer at the optimistic maximum of 32 mills.

But then the new budget dropped, and with it came a higher cap at which municipalities could set their car mill rates.

According to the new budget, cities and towns can now charge up to 39 mills on motor vehicles, a full seven mills higher than the state had allowed (and the city had sent out in tax bills) earlier this fiscal year.

“In my opinion, from the beginning, the 37 would have been the best thing, because we kind of knew it was going to end up there,” Walker-Myers said, implying that the city acted a bit rashly when it sent out car tax bills earlier this year at the 32-mill rate.

“That said, we actually can go up to 39 mills with this new budget. But then that would be a big jump, from 32 to 39. So we made a conscious decision to go with what we voted on in the original city budget [i.e. 37], because that was in the public, and everything was already out there.”

Neither Walker-Myers nor Grother said how big the current projected deficit could be even after the raised tax.

They did both say that the mayor has spoken with each city department head about freezing hires for all but absolutely necessary positions.

Walker-Myers also said that the city recently refinanced some of its bonds and is focusing on reducing its health care-related debt, as health care is one of the city’s most rapidly rising costs.

Dwight management team Chair Florita Gillespie asked Alder Walker-Myers if the new state budget would result in any cuts to education or to the police.

“In a way, I guess you could say that the school budget did get cut because a line item got cut,” Walker-Myers replied.

She said that the state ultimately agreed to keep funding the rent rebate program for seniors, by which the elderly and the disabled receive financial support from the state if they spend over a certain amount of their income on rent. But she said the state then cut out a line item worth the exact same amount as the rebate program from the education budget, effectively foisting the same reduction on the city in a slightly different location.

“They just move the line items, like you can do with budgets,” she said. “Budgets are tricky things. It’s all illusions, actually. The state made a decision that they weren’t going to cut this program for the elderly, but then they took from education.”

But, Walker-Myers said, the city is committed to maintaining its current level of social services. No matter the cuts at the state level, the city will continue to provide its residents with the services on which they rely, she promised.

“We’ll definitely be cutting back,” she said. “But we won’t cut back on the services coming to the residents. We need our cops. We need our firefighters. Your trees will continue to get trimmed. You’ll still have your garbage pick up and all of those things.”

“But I would like for everybody to really come out when the budget hammers start happening,” she continued. “Come out and voice your opinion. Because we are dealing with difficult times at the state, and we need to hear from you.”

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posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 6, 2017  12:45pm

As I said before.

The Politician Prayer.

The Politician is my shepherd; I shall not want,

He/She leadeth me beside the still factories,

He/She restoreth my doubt in Politics

He/She guideth me to the path of unemployment,

He/She anointeth my wages with taxes,
Surely Poverty and hard living shall follow this administration.And I shall be living in a rented house forever.

5000 years ago, the Politicians said, Pack your camel, pick up your shovel, mount and I shall lead you to the promised land of gentrification.


Today, the Politicians will tax your shovel, sell your camel,screw you and tell you the Vote for me I will set you free.

Keep on voting them in.

posted by: Noteworthy on December 6, 2017  1:15pm

KMA Notes:

1. Only a politician can claim a million dollar tax increase is not that bad. KMA.

2. This is being done because of the state. KMA.

3. This is really being done because the city budget is out of balance, has been and because it spends too much money, employs too many people and because we are mired in mountains of debt which have only grown under this mayor. KMA.

4. Given a million dollar tax increase - I hope Grotheer and Mayor Harp pulls back her demand for another $10K a year - a 7% pay increase. KMA.

5. Has Walker proposed a budget freeze? KMA. A hiring and spending freeze? Even Waste Haven under that new mayor, is actively moving to control costs. Meanwhile, in New Haven - all the political elites act stoned and out of touch. Spend more money; have unlimited overtime. Keep hiring people. KMA.

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on December 6, 2017  1:22pm

This increase, by itself, is not a big deal. But the state has a structural deficit, which won’t be resolved soon. I doubt that Mayor Harp and the BOA, despite their best efforts, will be able to avoid an increase in the real property tax rate next year.

posted by: FacChec on December 6, 2017  1:26pm

What Alders prez Walker-Myers isn’t telling you is that the state legislature voted to cap motor vehicle taxes at 39 mills by law and not the 37 mills walker-Myers is short selling the public in this article. Walker-Evans also said that the city recently refinanced some of its bonds, what the city really did with the vote of walker-Myerss is pay out $10M out of the bond (capital budget fund) which is illegal, to pay off a wrongly convicted person, Scott Lewis, imprisoned due to false testimony by New Haven Police.  http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/alder_9.5m_payment_plan/

Education ECS is getting the same amount of money it received last year, while other smaller towns are taking a reduction. The state’s 30 lowest-performing districts and three other communities would be shielded from any cuts this year, and each of the remaining 136 towns are cut by 5 percent. In dollars, this means Enfield, Stratford, Wallingford, West Hartford and Southington stand to lose the most with their cuts ranging from $1 million to $1.4 million.

In the following fiscal year, however, $30.9 million in ECS funding would be restored and a new formula used to direct more of that money to towns that have higher concentrations of students from low-income families and less ability to raise enough local tax money to pay for their public schools.

Of the $30.9 million in restored funding, just over half — $16.3 million — would go to the state’s 30 lowest-performing school districts and the remainder will be distributed to other communities. Currently 66 percent of overall ECS aid goes to these low-performing districts, and under this new plan, that will rise to 69 percent by fiscal 2019, but that’s largely because of the cuts the other districts will incur this fiscal year.

https://ctmirror.org/2017/10/25/municipal-aid-see-how-your-town-fares-in-the-bipartisan-budget/

So just where will the BOE be cutting back Walker-Myers???

posted by: Noteworthy on December 6, 2017  1:38pm

1,267 vs 3 Notes:

1. It took 1,267 words to get across a three word concept: We’re xxxking you.

2. Why has the mayor not held a press conference to disclose this news? Was she just going to mug us with tax bills in January like she did in November after the election - for her fat pay increase demand?

3. The city should disclose the state of its finances in light of the state budget that has passed. What’s the deal and why the secrecy?

4. What specific steps is the city taking? What Walker says is a joke, a deception or she is just too uninformed about how budgets work which is quite possible, even probable. We are not cutting social services; not going to quit trimming trees - all the police and fire are safe, all the education is safe - Just where are the cuts coming from then? Are you going to quit paying debt service? Or are you going to smack property owners with their own increase?

5. The BOA and the mayor have been repeatedly and annually warned for years that spending every dime you have, not reducing debt; increasing payroll, having body guards and chauffeurs - these are not things one does when running a broke, state dependent city.

6. So what’s the freaking plan? Do tell oh great ones.

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on December 6, 2017  3:05pm

FacChec, refinancing bonds is entirely separate from the use of their proceeds. The city both refinanced, lowering its debt service cost, and used part of the proceeds as you described. You could refinance your mortgage and blow part of the savings at Foxwoods; the latter does not mean you didn’t refinance your debt.

posted by: Smitty on December 6, 2017  3:09pm

@Noteworthy “We’re xxxking you”.....Good one love it lol

posted by: FacChec on December 6, 2017  3:46pm

@Kevin McCarthy,

You got it twisted Kev… I did not say or imply that the city refinanced bonds to use the proceeds to pay out Mr. Scott Lewis or any other line item pay out. Specifically, the city refinanced $4.2M, according to the charter the proceeds over the debt is to be returned back to debt service, the city nor the BOA followed this charter provision.  What they have been traditionally been doing is paying down current general fund debt in order to claim a balanced budget a year’s end. With regard to Mr. Scott the capital fund budget is only used to pay for infrastructure improvements, not law suit claims, which should be paid out of the city’s self insurance fund which is in debt.

Your statement that you felt I inferred….“The city both refinanced, lowering its debt service cost, and used part of the proceeds as you described” is patently false and twisted.

posted by: robn on December 6, 2017  4:56pm

Reducing debt payments either by paying them off or refinancing, should go into reducing record high property taxes. But it hasn’t. The school construction financing should have been doing that over the past few years but instead, the savings have been rolled into expansion of government such as the rediculous QHouse project (the city adopting a failed nonprofit and building it a new building.)

posted by: BenBerkowitz on December 6, 2017  5:01pm

A few things:

1) It would be helpful for taxpayers to know what social services are being preserved in exchange for their increased vehicle payment. I’m generally comfortable with an increase in car payments if it means that we are providing necessary social services, but I also want to know that those services are being run efficiently and evaluated for administrative cost savings.

2) Legislators should not be so dismissive of the effect on property owners who own a vehicle worth more than $3,500 (those that would pay more than $18 increase in this scenario).  It sets a bad tone in regards to support for the middle class in New Haven. When last I looked the average spend on a new car in the United States is roughly $34K. These are not luxury German vehicles in most cases but rather modern, safe family vehicles. Surely the average value of a vehicle registered in New Haven is substantially higher than $3,500.

3) The new Federal tax bill puts a cap on the amount that one can expense on their personal property taxes. While small this new legislation would be a double hit for those with some means living in town. Maybe that’s ok, but we still need legislators that are not wholistically dismissive of the concerns.

All that said, I’m happy I live in a place where we tax cars and subsidize public transit and pedestrian and cycling infrastructure.

posted by: AverageTaxpayer on December 6, 2017  5:12pm

The City did not have a choice when they sent out the car tax bills on the October 1st 2016 Grand List at 32 mills. That was State law at the time, as part of a move toward tax equity. (One day having all Connecticut residents paying the same rates on their car taxes.)

Seemingly our New Haven representatives could care less about equity and tax fairness. They just want our money so they can spend it.

I also don’t believe the 5 mill increase is just for the second half of the bill. It will be for the whole year, even if they are misleading the public as they try to soft-sell this tax increas to the public.

I have a 4yr old car worth $20,000, (even though the City values it at $28,000. i. e. what I paid for it four years ago!) This means my car tax will increase from an already ridiculous $600/year back up to $700.

If I lived in Greenwich my bill would be $200/year. Farmington, $300/year. And my insurance rates would be half of what they are here in New Haven… (why not one insurance rate for all of Connecticut, instead of charging by township?)

So much for tax equity. And truly with their cushy state, city and union jobs, our elected leaders could not care less.

posted by: the1king on December 6, 2017  6:43pm

How about some how tax all the Yale students and other college students that bring their cars here and don’t register their cars here.  Why do we always get screwed.

posted by: Thomas Alfred Paine on December 6, 2017  8:56pm

Funny how things come out AFTER the elections!!!
The mayor asked for a $10,000 raise AFTER the election.
The public is told about a tax increase AFTER the election, a FIVE MILL tax increase!
Question: the car tax bills sent to the taxpayers were for payment in two installments at the 32 mill rate. If some people paid the full amount of their car tax in July for July and January, will those people receive new tax bills for the additional five mills?
Inquiring citizens want to know?

posted by: Thomas Alfred Paine on December 6, 2017  9:07pm

“But I would like for everybody to really come out when the budget hammers start happening,” she continued. “Come out and voice your opinion. Because we are dealing with difficult times at the state, and we need to hear from you.”
Residents and taxpayers need to take up the Board of Aldermen president’s offer of public participation in this budget process.
Show up. Stand up. Speak up. Before you have to pay up more than we have to!

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on December 6, 2017  10:52pm

FacChec, you were not careful in what you wrote. You said “Walker-Evans [sic] also said that the city recently refinanced some of its bonds, what the city really did with the vote of Walkers-Myerss [sic] is pay off $10 M [for the settlement].” The phrase “what the city really did” clearly implies that the previous clause is untrue. It’s not what you meant but it is what you wrote.

posted by: Peter99 on December 7, 2017  5:58am

They tax us when we buy the car and the they tax us every year we use it. I pay the same tax as a millionaire. Talk about unfair. The car tax rate should be tied to your state income tax as a percentage of your adjusted gross income modified by the vehicle value. That approach might make too much sense for the politicians.

posted by: JCFremont on December 7, 2017  7:51am

This is why Grad Students keep their cars registered at Mom and Dad’s house, we wondered why so many people are visiting Connecticut from Pennsylvania and who knew there where so many BMW and Range Rovers in Vermont.
This city and state will never get anywhere near a balanced budget when wages and payments from by the government exceed wages and payments that are paid by the private sector.

posted by: Acer on December 7, 2017  9:16am

Let’s continue to build and pay for new schools, let’s continue to pay for multiple lawsuits filed and adjudicated against the city, let’s continue to raise the pay of our city’s fine politicians, and lest we be remiss in our civic duties, let’s continue to raise the taxes of the hard-working citizens of our fair city. Merry Christmas.

posted by: FacChec on December 7, 2017  9:17am

@Kevin McCarthy.. As I read your last post on December 6, 2017 10:52pm you wrote that I was saying unknowingly, the phrase “what the city really did” clearly implies that the previous clause is untrue. It’s not what you meant but it is what you wrote.

I simply repeated that which the author wrote, as follows:
Walker-Myers also said that the city recently refinanced some of its bonds and is focusing on reducing its health care-related debt, as health care is one of the city’s most rapidly rising costs. This statement is not true, the refinanced bond proceed were used to show a balanced spending budget, not pay any health care related matters.

I challenged that statement by Walker-Myers in my post on December 6, 2017 3:46pm.

There I make clear:

That I did not say or imply that “the city refinanced bonds to use the proceeds to pay out Mr. Scott Lewis or any other line item . Specifically, the city refinanced $4.2M, according to the charter the proceeds over the debt is to be returned back to debt service, the city nor the BOA followed this charter provision.  What they have been traditionally been doing is paying down current general fund debt in order to claim a balanced budget at year’s end.”

“With regard to Mr. Scott the capital fund budget is only used to pay for infrastructure improvements, not law suit claims, which should be paid out of the city’s self insurance fund which is in debt.”

I hope you can let this back and forth banter over semantics go, and move on.

posted by: LookOut on December 7, 2017  10:43am

@ McCarthy “This increase, by itself, is not a big deal.”  Really?  Springing a 16% tax increase with a few weeks notice is no big deal?  Slamming residents with a regressive tax a couple weeks after that mayor get elected and asks for a $10,000 raise is no big deal. 

I’m astounded that we allow the city to pull this kind of nonsense.  Who gets hurt more here - the professor driving a late model Audi or the working mom who will have to cut into her grocery money to give the city extra money to waste? 

Throw the bums out!

posted by: Pat from Westville on December 7, 2017  2:56pm

“And my insurance rates would be half of what they are here in New Haven… (why not one insurance rate for all of Connecticut, instead of charging by township?)”

Average Taxpayer: My understanding is that insurance companies (private businesses aiming to make money) set insurance rates higher for urban areas like New Haven, Bridgeport, Hartford, etc. than for suburban areas like Greenwich or Hamden because they assume higher population density = more cars on the roads = higher number of car accidents = higher insurance claims & more money paid to insurance holders. Of course, to me Dixwell Avenue in Hamden does not look that much different in terms of number of cars on the road than Dixwell Avenue in New Haven. But I’m not an insurance exec.

posted by: the1king on December 7, 2017  8:11pm

I have a dumb question.  Can you vote in local elections if your car is not registered in new haven.  For instance a Yale student from north Carolina voting for mayor and alderperson.  If so it should not be allowed.

posted by: 1644 on December 7, 2017  10:00pm

Pat from Westville:  Insurance rates are set based on experience, not guesses.  If young people have more claims, young people will more charged more.  If New Haven residents, on average, have more claims than Hamden residents, they will be charged more.  It may be greater density, greater crime, or may be that New Haven residents are just worse drivers.  Seriously, I doubt New Haven rates differ much from Hamdens, because the communities are very similar.  Madison, on the other had, probably has lower rates.  I know some one who moved from Hamden to Branford and had a substantial insurance reduction, enough to buy renter’s insurance.

posted by: HenryCT on December 8, 2017  5:06pm

There is no need to increase our taxes. To the contrary our taxes could be substantially decreased. $978,000 is nothing compared to where our taxes are going today. In fact Connecticut’s two senators and 5 members of the House voted last summer to increase funding to the biggest black hole that sucks our taxes. Think about $70-$80 billion. That’s the increase they voted. And where did it go? To bombing, shooting, killing, destroying houses and families in Yemen, Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Somalia, Pakistan, Niger and potentially invading North Korea, Venezuela, Iran, Cuba, etc. $700 billion. 59% of our federal tax dollars go to war. Not one of those wars increases our security. To the contrary. The generals, the weapons manufacturers are sitting pretty. It’s their security we are ensuring. Unless you can’t distinguish between $700,000,000,000 and $978,000, I suggest you start aiming your complaints in another direction.

posted by: 1644 on December 9, 2017  7:35am

1King:  Such a requirement would be viewed as “voter suppression” by the liberals who rule New Haven and Connecticut.  Those Yalies are overwhelmingly Democratic, so the state and city are sure to make it as easy as possible for them to vote.  BTW, New Hampshire does have a movement to limit the student vote, as it is something of a swing state, and would be more so without the student vote.

posted by: 1644 on December 9, 2017  7:40am

1king: Here is a discussion of New Hampshire’s effort:
http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/under-new-gop-control-new-hampshire-moves-to-restrict-student-voting
The state could, also, get some cash by requiring students to get CT licenses as well as register their cars in Connecticut.

posted by: Realmom21 on December 11, 2017  10:08am

If ther is anyone with a legal background on here please respond..I thought they was a legal date that towns and cities had to present taxpayers with a total bill. There isnt anything saying they can send you an additional bill. THere was nothing in the original bill that stated there may be a supplement to this . There was nothing saying that the second part of the years taxes bills have yet to be determined you will receive an additional bill. I believe NOT positive but I believe this act of sending out a second bill without previously having disclosed may be Illegal.

posted by: agor on December 11, 2017  11:44am

the mayor wants a pay raise so now the car taxes go up nice way to pay for it they need to reevaluate the top salaries and cut from there