With some exceptions, Connecticut law requires a person who sells real property for $ 2,000 or more to pay a real estate conveyance tax when he conveys the property to the buyer. The tax has two parts: a state tax and a municipal tax. The state tax rate is either 0. 5% or 1% of the sale price, depending on the type of property and how much it sells for, and the town tax rate is either 0. 25% or up to a maximum of 0. 5% depending on where the property is located. The applicable state and local rates are added together to get the total tax rate for a particular transaction. The seller pays the tax when he conveys the property (CGS § 12-494-504h).
In addition to the state tax, sellers must pay a municipal real estate conveyance tax. The municipal tax rate is currently 0. 25% for all towns plus additional tax of up to 0. 25% for 18 eligible towns that chose to impose the increased rate. Thus, the municipal tax rate can range from 0. 25% to 0. 5%, depending on where the property is located.
Now it’s important to note that back in 2003, the state approved to increase the for municipalities from 0.11% to 0.25%. The tax was scheduled to revert back to 0.11% on 6/30/07 but, that deadline was extended first to June 30 2008, then to July 1 2010.
Being a part of revenue, municipalities across the state rely upon this tax when drafting their budgets…including Danbury. From earlier this year, in an interview with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rudy Marconi, I asked the First Selectman of Ridgefield for his opinion regarding the importance of the state to extend the increase of this tax.
Get where I’m going here. With the mayor’s recent announcement of his attempts to sell the land that houses the old police station for aprox. 2.5 million, it’s VERY safe to assume that the delay extending the increased conveyance will have a negative impact on the overall revenue projections within the city’s 2010-11 budget.
…which brings us to Danbury’s State Senator.
The State Senate was suppose to address extending the tax during THIS SESSION and although the House adopted the extension, the Senate let this issue slip right on by.
The legislature’s finance, revenue and bonding committee passed a bill Thursday that would extend the current conveyance tax rates until 2012. It would also expempt homeowners who are facing foreclosure or who have homes worth less than what they owe from the tax.
The committee vote was 35-15.
Most municipalities receive 0.25 percent of a property’s sale price. More distressed communities, such as Hartford and New Haven, get 0.50 percent of the sale price.
Prior to 2003, the conveyance tax was 0.11 percent. The tax was increased in 2003 in the midst of a state budget deficit, but was set to revert back to the original rate the following year. The General Assembly, however, has consistently extended the tax increase, and now cities and towns rely on the revenue.
The increases are now set to expire at the end of this fiscal year. If they do, it would leave a hole in municipal budgets. The rate would drop to 0.11 percent for most cities and towns and 0.36 percent for distressed communities.
It’s McLachlan’s responsibility to represent DANBURY’S interest as opposed catering to special interest or far right groups (which does not represent the make-up of his district) with outlandish proposals that only concerns his ultra-conservative base… proposals that everyone knows will no chance in seeing the light of day.
For someone who has no problem blasting Democrats at the Capitol (and given the fact that Danbury’s Democrats in the House voted on the extension), the fact that McLachlan’s alarm bells being silent as this critical tax for municipalities slipped passed the senate’s regular session should give you a clue into this person’s political priorities…which has less to do with his district and more to do with his own self-interests.
Sorry for the lack of posts but I’ve been real busy covering the Connecticut Film Festival, which is currently underway in the downtown section of Danbury (and if you’re not doing anything, I highly recommend that you attend at least one event at the festival).
Last night, I attended the world premier screening of 10 Mountains 10 years, a documentary that chronicles Enzo Simone and his team of mountain climbers. Covering seven countries within a decade, Simone’s group conquered ten of the largest peaks in the world to raise money and bring attention to Parkinson’s Disease.
Focusing on Mt. Kilimanjaro, the film tracks the greatest advances happening in the medical community alongside the team’s endurance at altitude. Over 92 million people worldwide have a family member battling Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s Disease. This is a story of hope and of common everyday people coming together to change this world and leave something better behind. A collaboration with the Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation and the Focus On a Cure Foundation for Parkinson’s, proceeds from the movie go towards medical research and caregiver programs.
After the screening of the film, the cast and crew took questions from the audience as well as hung around and mingled with the attendees at the fundraiser reception for the United Way of Western Connecticut.
Health and public safety budget ad-hoc committee meeting. Photo by ctblogger 04.2010
With all the scrutinizing over the city’s allocation to grant agencies and schools, it should come to a surprise that this year’s budget proposal includes a line item that has no accountability.
During the public health and safety ad-hoc committee meeting, councilman Jack Knapp brought up the issue of a line item of 425,000 dollars in the Fire Department budget that goes to the volunteer fire department and questioned how the money was used. What happens next is quite remarkable as the members of the council admit that there is no accountability for the money used by the department.
COUNCILMAN VISCONTI: I just think that we are giving out almost a half a million dollars here. I think we should have some type of record keeping so we know what it’s being spent on.
FIRE CHIEF HERALD: It’s certainly a legitimate question.
COUNCIL PRESIDENT CAVO: Just for historical perspective…a couple of years ago, the previous director of finance made a request to all the receiving agencies that received money to supply that office with an accounting of their records…I believe that some departments complied and some did not. I still think that’s totally possible for the director of finance to request that from them. They should absolutely request that from the director of finance.
FIRE CHIEF HERALD: Similar as they do with the grant agencies.
COUNCIL PRESIDENT CAVO: Yes. If the grant agencies can do it…
COUNCILWOMAN STANLEY: Can they do that for this year’s budget?
COUNCIL PRESIDENT CAVO: I don’t know if they would have to get that to us before we vote.
FIRE CHIEF HERALD: Well, whether you…a dispersal is different than voting I would say—
COUNCILWOMAN STANLEY: That’s right—
FIRE CHIEF HERALD: When is the dispersal?
FINANCE DIRECTOR: Usually, funds are dispersed in July. In some cases, it’s distributed four times a year.
COUNCILWOMAN DEEP: You can distributed it whenever you want right?
FINANCE DIRECTOR: Well, with the grant agencies you like to do it on some type of pre-determined basis…so it’s clear and they can budget accordingly…
UNKNOWN COUNCILMAN: What determines that number [allocation to the volunteer fire department].
FIRE CHIEF HERALD: That number has been the same for about eight years from what I can see…
AD-HOC CHAIR (Charles Trombetta): I think that even that is about part of the budget…all the questions are legitimate, we need to have a separate ad-hoc committee to look into that…
With all due respect to the volunteer fire department, with over 400,000 in taxpayer’s money being given to a department with no accountability on how the money is unacceptable…and according to members of the council, this is not the first time this issue was discussed.
In the past, the council has voted to withhold allocating money to a non profit agency without a first having detailed account of how the money was to be used by that agency. If the council demanded accountability for grant agencies (in the thousands of dollars), and scrutinize the this year’s allocation to the education budget to the penny, when it comes to a situation where almost a half million dollars is in consideration, surely the council should have SOME CLUE on how the allocation of fund to the volunteer fire department is being used.
Simply put, there should not be a double standard. The council should not allocate anything until they have a detailed analysis on how this extremely large sum of money is being used.
On Sunday, Rev. Al Sharpton paid a visit to Danbury to help celebrate the 115th anniversary of New Hope Baptist Church. Based on the reaction he received from those in attendance, I think it’s safe to say that Rev. Sharpton gave a memorable sermon.
Raising concerns with the proposed school program cuts, yesterday, a letter drafted by the City Council Democratic Caucus was sent to the members of the Board of Education and Superintendent of Schools.
Stating that “the proposed cuts to the classroom and student programs are unnecessary to balance the board of education budget,” the letter list a number of suggestions to achieve cost savings in order to lesson the impact to the students, which starts with administrator concessions.
While the superintendent, his cabinet staff and school administrators demand raises, other teachers and administrators have stated both privately and publicly that they will voluntarily giveback or accept freezes of previously promised salary increases in order to print teacher layoffs and protect the delivery of services to our students. This seems to contradict statements by the Superintendent and BOE to City Council members that teachers simply were not willing to negotiate contract concessions in order to protect our students. In fact last year teachers took a pay freeze for the first half of the year and only a half percent raise for the remainder of the year. however, last year the school administrators union fought the BOE and were given raises, some as high as nine percent. And this year the administrators have not agreed to make concessions.
The letter also states a number of suggestions raised to them by concerned teachers, parents and administrators.
Having media specialists work in at leadst two buildings as other specialists do. This would eliminate at least seven positions saving approx. 300,000 without reducing services. Other specialists such as those in gym and art already work two schools.
A the High School there is a principal, associate principal, and four assistant principals totaling in excess of 650,000 in salaries. Eliminating one or two positions would save hundreds of thousands of dollars over five years.
Substitute teachers are currently paid a full day per diem salary even for a half day of work and instead should be paid only for the amount of time they actually work.
Para-professionals should work two or three days a week.
at least one member of The Danbury Enhancement Collaboration Committee (TDEC) works half day and get paid a teacher’s salary to do TDEC paperwork instead of covering another school which we understand had to hire another math specialist. TDEC paperwork should not take away from substantive instruction time.
Each elementary school has a reading specialist/coach, and depending on how they are utilized by the principal they may have little to no contact with students often serving as a coach to teachers. Math specialists are divided half time between schools therefore it would seem logical that elementary school reading specialists could cover two schools as is already done at the middle school level
Finally, the letter addressed concerns raised by residents regarding the closing of Mill Ridge Intermediate School.
In addition to the budget issues many in ur community are concerned with the proposed closing of Mill Ridge Intermediate School (MRI) and busing of fourth and fifth grade students to King Street Intermediate while putting third grade students in Mill Ridge Primary. According to school personnel we spoke with, this decision was made by a committee comprised of carefully selected administrators, BOE members, and parents, but no teachers were invited to participate and they want answers.
Teachers and parents have stated that the proposed closing and busing of students will be a detriment to students and the Mill Ridge community at large. We recognize that the closing the achievement gap is a primary concern of all of the educators and maintaining MRI as a community school is necessary to do so. MRI is part of the neighborhood community providing open family nights for families to come read and ask questions about school and schoolwork as well as after school tutoring that for many children is only possible because they can walk home.
Parents of students at MRI and King Street School are concerned with a lack of answers to the questions they have posed to the Superintendent. The proposed busing would combine nine King Street classes with eight Mil Ridge classes leaving little room to grow. With seventeen classrooms filled they are concerned with the availability of rooms for other classes such as art, music, and special education. Other concerns include bus routes, length of rides, and student pick up locations. Parents have said that the ambiguous and changing responses are unacceptable. They are not paying taxes to send their children on a long bus ride, to an overcrowded school that cannot meet their needs
This morning, I interviewed city council Minority Leader Tom Saadi and talked to him about the letter sent by members of the Democratic caucus.
You can read the letter addressed to the Board of Education and Superintendent of Schools below: