Car tax argument slams into property taxes

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Car tax loss could slam property tax

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy proposed to get rid of the car tax and cities and towns are up in arms over the loss of revenue, with a few saying they will just make up the missing funds with higher property taxes.

Malloy, however, as reported by our colleague Ken Dixon, argued the car tax is “one of the most egregious taxes on the books in the state of Connecticut. You own a car in Greenwich, you’re charged less than 11 mills. You own a car in Hartford, you’re charged 75 mills. It makes no sense. A car is a car is a car.”

Interesting argument. Now lets go to the property tax.

Why is a 2,000 square foot house in Bridgeport taxed at a higher mill rate than one in Darien? A house is a house is a house, no? Shouldn’t the Guv and lawmakers be tackling that? After all, while property values are down in Bridgeport the taxes are up. So it makes it difficult to own a home even in our most affordable communities.

The Guv is on to something, there is a fairness issue related to taxes, but it’s an issue that’s been around now for decades and no one in Hartford has actually shown any backbone when it comes to doing something about it other than creating blue ribbon task forces to study the issue.

A town councilman in Trumbull called The Mines Tuesday to talk about the stock market, but was sucked into the car tax proposal, calling it a dumb idea as it’s just shoveling the burden from car owners to property owners.

“The only way to solve the tax problem (car and property) is to look at the entire taxing system as a whole,” said Michael London, a member of the Trumbull Town Council, said there’s no question

But it’s an important one. Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch and others have rightly pointed out they need money for cops, firemen, parks and other services that people need. It would be interesting to see how much it costs to have a cop on a beat in Greenwich compared to other communities.

Where is the difference in costs for these communities? Theoretically, Bridgeport should be able to spread out the costs of its services among more people and offer a competitive tax rate to suburbs. But it can’t for some reason.

What the state does or doesn’t do matters in the towns and cities. And while Finch and other mayors’ concerns are legitimate, the answer to providing services isn’t always just to stop doing it. If that were the case the libraries would have been closed years ago, but most of them have continued to function by leveraging volunteer resources and fund raising.

Ultimately, it’s time for the state and cities to get creative and to leverage their best resources, the people who live here.

Rob Varnon

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