(Trash pick-up delayed a day)
Average Monthly Climate in Hartford
(Last 30 years)
|20-36°F (-7 to 2°C);
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27-45°F (-3 to 7°C);
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The Hartford Regional Market
I-91, Exit 27
101 Reserve Road
Open Year Round, 5am - 9am
Bushnell Park Summer Solstice Garden Party
Bushnell Park, Hartford, CT
June 21st, 2006
Wed 5:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
$75 per person, $125 per couple
Join area restaurants in the "Best of Bushnell Park" dessert contest.
Bid on celebrity neckties & scarves and enjoy good food & drink.
Hartford's Urban Parks and Statuary
Butler-McCook House Hartford, CT
August 3rd, 2006
Thu 5:30 p.m.
Explore some of the many outdoor sculptures on Hartford’s Main Street and Bushnell Park. Highlights of the tour will include: the Ancient Burying Ground, Count Pulaski Statue, Stone Fields, and the Corning Fountain. Reservations encouraged.
This event is made possible in part by support from the Greater Hartford Arts Council’s Annual United Arts Campaign.
Eddie A. Perez
GENERAL ASSEMBLY GIVES HARTFORD TAX RELIEF, MAYOR PLEDGES TO KEEP PUSHING FOR FULL REFORM
Mayor Perez today praised the leadership of the General Assembly for passing legislation on Wednesday that will prevent significant property tax increases on Hartford residential property due to state mandated revaluation. Under the legislation passed on Wednesday, revaluation will be conducted in October 2006. Residential property owners will see an approximately 20% increase in taxes due to revaluation phased in through fiscal year 2010. Without this legislation residential properties would have experienced increases ranging from 60%-130% due to revaluation next year. Additional mil rate increases associated with the cost of government will be added on top of the revaluation increase. The budget currently before the city council contemplates a 6% increases in taxes for the coming fiscal year.
“I want to thank Senate President Pro Tem Don Williams and Speaker of the House Jim Amann for displaying true leadership in helping Hartford mitigate the potentially disastrous impact of revaluation. City government will not be forced to implement massive tax increases and dramatically cut services. We are making tremendous progress in Hartford and the General Assembly’s willingness to act with urgency to prevent the progress from being derailed is deeply appreciated by the people of Hartford.
The legislation passed on Wednesday helped us avert a crisis but does not provide long-term solutions. Hartford is just an extreme example of how the state’s over-reliance on the property tax to fund local services is putting tremendous pressure on local government to struggling to provide high quality local services and homeowners facing ever-increasing tax bills to fund those services. We need fundamental property tax reform statewide. I intend to convene stakeholders from all of Hartford’s communities to suggest to the legislature the best path for addressing the situation here in Hartford, but also to develop recommendations for a larger statewide property tax reform effort.” Mayor Perez stated.
Revaluation conducted in October of this year will be applied under the new legislation to the city fiscal year commencing on July 1, 2007.
Tax Challenges for the City of Hartford 3/28/06 Presentation by Mayor
to City Council.
Related Courant Editorial
CT Office of Policy & Management Report on Revaluation 12/27/04
Legislature Passes Tax Relief For City, But Mayor's Comments Stung
|Jeffrey B. Cohen, The Hartford
The Hartford Courant (Connecticut)
May 4, 2006
May 4--With the clock running down on the legislative session late Wednesday, both chambers of the General Assembly approved a tax plan designed to allow officials in Hartford to ease the sting of increasing property values on homeowners in the city. The measure was approved 110-35 in the House and later by the Senate.
But even as lawmakers were putting the final touches on the bill Wednesday evening, it remained unclear whether Mayor Eddie A. Perez's dire threats last week helped - or hurt - the efforts to broker a compromise between city officials and the business community and get the legislation passed.
As talks were underway last week, Perez put out a release threatening to lay off teachers and police officers should the General Assembly fail to act before Wednesday's deadline, ruffling feathers at the Capitol. Several lawmakers said the move made the process more difficult.
"There will be some legislators who will vote against any plan as a result of the news stories," said state Rep. Art Feltman, D-Hartford. But he said the mayor's role had no "measurable effect" on the final compromise lawmakers were trying to pass.
State Rep. Cameron Staples, D-New Haven, co-chairman of the legislature's tax writing committee, said that Perez's "comments did not help," and credited the Hartford delegation with keeping the process moving, "despite the negative feelings generated by the mayor's comments."
The plan will allow the city to phase in the effects of a citywide revaluation of property.
Because residential property values have climbed much more quickly than commercial values, the new numbers meant that with no changes in the law, homeowners would bear a significantly larger share of the tax burden than they currently do - driving up taxes for some homeowners by more than 100 percent.
Perez and the Hartford delegation have been working to find a way to ease the pain on the residential property owners, while also eliminating the pre-existing 15 percent surtax on commercial property the business community has been trying to get rid of.
The business community sharply opposed any plan that simply put off the effects of revaluation for another several years. In 2004, the state passed legislation allowing Hartford and other municipalities to delay implementing revaluation until 2007.
The measure approved Wednesday would allow the city to proceed with revaluation, but phase in the stinging effect on residential property owners by capping the average annual tax increase linked to the revaluation to 3.5 percent over the next five years.
At the same time, the law phases out half of the 15 percent commercial surtax over the same period.
As a result, residential property owners as a class would pay 18.8 percent more in 2010 than they did in 2004, while commercial property owners would pay 6.5 percent less in 2010 than they did in 2004.
"I don't think that anybody sees this as solving the problem permanently," Staples said. "I think it's a five year fix, and then there will be further discussion."
The measure was sharply criticized by state Rep. Robert Heagney, R-Simsbury, who called it a "recipe for disaster."
He and other Republicans spoke at length of their concern that the new law would put Hartford on untenable fiscal ground in eventual need of a state bailout.
But Matt Hennessy, Perez's chief of staff, said the mayor believes the bill is "a workable solution until we come back and have another conversation about it."
He also said that the mayor's public comments last week were the sort of thing that needed to happen to help focus the legislature's attention.
Copyright © 2006, The Hartford Courant, Conn. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. For information on republishing this content, contact us at (800) 661-2511 (U.S.), (213) 237-4914 (worldwide), fax (213) 237-6515, or e-mail email@example.com.
Hartford Advocate - 5/4/06
The legislature is about to finally allow the long-delayed revaluation of Hartford properties to go ahead. The conflict at the last minute, Scoop hears, was between two measures.
A legislative compromise would allow 3 percent annual tax increases for the residential sector, and a drop in the business surcharge from 15 to 10 percent, resulting in annual business tax decreases of just .64 percent. But the MetroHartford Alliance continued to push for bigger increases for residences and bigger decreases for businesses, in line with actual property values. The surcharge would drop by two-thirds.
Rep. Art Feltman told us he expected the compromise measure to win approval. ¨The Hartford delegation has worked very hard to make sure revaluation doesn´t hurt residents, tenants and homeowners,¨ he said.
An Act Concerning Property Revaluations
SB 668: Bill File See: § 2 — REVALUATION PHASE-INS
"Under the third method, the property classes are residential, commercial, and vacant land. The commercial class includes apartments containing at least five units, industrial property, and public utility property. The third method works if there are sales records for a class or enough sales within each class to extrapolate a rate of increase for the entire class. For this reason, the bill requires the assessor to use the second method when these conditions cannot be met."
(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, a town shall be exempt from performing its next scheduled revaluation if, as of the date that calculations pursuant to this subsection are performed: (A) The overall level of assessment for all property classes is within plus or minus ten per cent of the seventy per cent assessment ratio required under subsection (b) of section 12-62a, as measured by the overall median ratio; (B) the level of assessment for each property class for which there are fifteen or more market sales is within plus or minus five per cent of the median overall level of assessment for each such property class; (C) the coefficient of dispersion for each property class for which there are fifteen or more market sales is equal to or less than (i) fifteen per cent for all property; (ii) fifteen per cent for residential property; (iii) twenty per cent for commercial property; and (iv) twenty per cent for vacant land; and (D) the price related differential for each property class for which there are fifteen or more market sales is within 0.98 and 1.03. The provisions of this subsection shall terminate on October 1, 2007, and shall not apply to any revaluation scheduled to be implemented on or after said date.
(3) The ratio of the total assessed value of all taxable real property ineach of the following property classes for the assessment year preceding that in which a revaluation is effective and the total fair market value of such property in each class as determined from records of actual sales in said year, shall be subtracted from the rate of assessment set forth in section 12-62a, as amended by this act, and the annual incremental rate of assessment increase applicable to all parcels of real property in each such class shall be the result of such subtraction divided by the number of years of the phase-in term, where such property classes are:
(A) Residential property;
(B) commercial property, including apartments containing five or more dwelling units, industrial property and public utility property; and
(C) vacant land. In the event the assessor determines that there are no records of actual sales of real property in any such property class in said year or that the number of such actual sales is insufficient for purposes of determining a rate of increase under this subdivision, the annual incremental rate of assessment increase determined under subdivision (2) of this subsection shall be used for said property class.
Related Article: Perez Tax Plan Bucks Norm 3/16/06
In a brisk noon meeting Wednesday, the city council approved with little
change the budget proposal submitted by Hartford Mayor Eddie A. Perez for
2006-07, adding only $5.4 million more in state funding than called for in
Perez's spending plan.
Perez now has 48 hours to veto or accept the $496.9 million budget, representing a 7 percent increase in spending over the current year. Perez indicated that he intends to accept it.
"There are no surprises here," Perez said. "This was a collaborative process. I gave the council a bottom line and they met that bottom line. It's a good budget for everybody."
If the proposal remains unchanged by the mayor, the tax rate will increase by 4 mills to 64.82 mills, a 6.6 percent tax increase. This means that most property owners will pay $4 more for every $1,000 of assessed property value should the council ratify the plan and the tax rate Monday night.
The council used some of the additional state revenue to fund nine new positions: five "quality of life" police officers, two new license and inspections inspectors, one deputy auditor and one assistant corporation counsel. The quality of life officers will focus on nuisance complaints such as noise, car break-ins and similar troublesome crimes. Perez's original budget plan had called for 20 new officers.
Other budget additions include $250,000 to pay high school interns to work throughout the year, an expansion of an existing summer program. An additional $300,000 will be distributed through the new Office of Youth Services to focus on youth violence prevention.
Other money goes to the library, cameras for police cruisers, the school board, the municipal employees retirement fund, the school board, First Night and the International Jazz Festival.
The school board's request for a $259.57 million budget - a 2.3 percent increase - remains unchanged in the approved spending plan.
Councilwoman Veronica Airey-Wilson thanked the legislature for providing increased funding to the city and warned that the city can't count on the same help next year. She also suggested that the council begin working on ways to reduce the tax burden next year when revaluation is expected to go into effect. Because most residential property has increased in value, homeowners are going to feel the greatest impact.
Councilwoman Elizabeth Horton Sheff said she believes the budget reflects the concerns of residents. "I feel very good about this budget."
The Hartford Couranthttp://www.courant.com/news/opinion/commentary/hc-plccooper0806.artaug06,0,7703694.story
Copyright 2006, Hartford
Saying No To A Dream House
By RAND RICHARDS COOPER
August 6 2006, Hartford Courant
`Glastonbury?" our real estate agent asked over the phone. "What are you doing out there?"
In the years since we'd bought our house in the West End of Hartford, as we continued casually looking at other homes, we'd never once mentioned Glastonbury - or any other suburb, for that matter.
"Actually," I answered, "I think I'm in the south of France."
Well, a house can spin a spell, and this one was powerful. A magnificently restored 1830 stone house, in a French provincial style: I'd chanced across it while browsing a realty website. Why not drive past?
As it happened, the owner was out in his yard, and invited Molly and me in, showing us around a 3,100-square-foot fantasy lifted from the pages of Travel & Leisure. Every detail glittered. Brand-new twelve-over-twelve double-hung windows. Chandeliers and gold-leafed trim - hand-painted. Wide floorboards with old nail heads. A dream kitchen fitted out with slate sink and working fireplace. And, best of all, a big stone patio overlooking a grassy meadow and a red barn.
"Can you imagine us, sitting out on that patio?" I mused to Molly. Those oversized planters. Those gorgeous flowers against the stone.
And thus did we end up in a suburban Connecticut meadow, dreaming of France and contradicting everything we'd ever believed about where we wanted to live.
"I don't think we can say no to this house," I said.
Viewing real estate uncovers deep fantasies; there's nothing quite like the prospect of spending $475,000 to shine a light on what's rattling around in your dream box. Home-buying conflates property with identity, so that What do I want? quickly morphs into Who am I? and How do I see myself? Apparently, I saw us living in the French countryside, enjoying the lifestyle of Glastonbury-en-Provence: elegant, rustic, understated, rich.
But we weren't rich. We were simply Americans of moderate means, mildly deranged by years of reading the Real Estate section of The New York Times, wherein wealthy urbanites cavort like gods, tossing off millions on summer homes. A stone house comes along, and it represents your chance to snag a piece of godliness - maybe your one and only chance. Money-wise, it was a big stretch, but we could do it. Shouldn't we grab it now, before it was too late?
There was another reason for our real-estate disquiet. After a decade of child-free living, Molly and I were now the parents of a 5-month-old daughter. Suddenly, our Hartford neighborhood seemed full of problems. Like our way-too-busy avenue, a feeder for I-84, where cars shoot by at 50 mph. And how many muggings had occurred at the corner ATM since we'd lived here?
Molly loved the idea of Larkin being able to tumble out the door safely, without our having to worry. There would be an acre of lawn and woods for her to explore. The school district was top-notch. As for the price, the stone house was one of a kind and would surely grow in value.
"Glastonbury is bullet-proof," a friend said. "You can't go wrong."
We went home to analyze and agonize.
When you scout out a place to live, a lot of your questions are practical. How far a drive is it to the supermarket? Will there be children for your child to play with? Other questions are more abstract. What kind of environment do you want? I mean the layout of streets and houses, and ultimately of people. Do you want a fenced border with neighbors' yards? Or do you prefer their houses invisible, artfully hidden by landscaping? Do you favor a quiet cul-de-sac, where only cars belonging to residents pass by, or a street - small or large - that lies on the way to somewhere else, and thus hosts a traffic of strangers?
And what about sidewalks?
At stake are values well beyond convenience. People are formed by their environment, and children especially. What kind of place was Glastonbury-en-Provence? And how would Larkin understand her place in the world, if that was her world?
On the whole, the stone house and its meadow seemed lovely, but isolated. The neighborhood comprised three dead-end streets with a curious mix of woods, 1960s-era ranch houses, and a handful of spanking new McMansions. It wasn't exactly country. It wasn't exactly suburbs. We pictured ourselves living there, and it seemed a little lonely.
But there was that house.
After a while, we took a break from listing the pros and cons and went outside. With a vision sharpened by the possibility of leaving, we stood on our West End porch, taking in the view. Our backyard is bordered by four other yards - five properties that join to form a big, semi-communal space, shaded by giant oak, maple, beech and pine trees. To our north, the Tangerones' roses and grapevines spilled over our fence in colorful profusion. Over at the Gales', someone was playing basketball. Straight west was the domain of Brad, a handyman who lives with his hound dog Plato in a converted barn. Directly to our south, new owners were moving into the two-family.
Putting Larkin in her stroller, we set off around the block. It was a warm summer afternoon, and as the stroller lurched over buckled places in the slate sidewalk, Larkin laughed in joy. Molly and I had been living here for 10 years, long enough to get to know people in many of the houses. Like my bike-riding buddy, Glen, with whom I traded Catholic-school horror stories. Or Barry, the Scrabble fanatic and book collector, who loved racing out to his porch to tempt our bulldog, Bert, with a big bag of treats. Or Jared, the kid I'd played basketball with when we first moved here, a tiny 11-year-old so prodigiously talented that I predicted he'd be a big-time college star someday: now, a decade later, he was.
On and on it went. We knew a lot of our neighbors' stories - and they knew ours. A neighborhood like ours offers so much, we realized. Its sidewalks are both means and metaphor: a practical conveyance and a network of characters. Walking around it felt like reading a novel.
On our way home we fell in step with another stroller-pushing couple, and stopped to introduce ourselves. Nick and Alexi lived two streets over, and their little girl was a few months older than ours. Larkin was an unusual name, they commented. Molly explained that it was inspired by a poet.
"Philip Larkin," Nick said.
Exactly. And what was their daughter's name? "Oona," Alexi said.
"You mean," I asked, "like Eugene O'Neill's daughter?"
"That's right," she said, with a grin.
It was a parody of a West End moment - two couples exchanging notes on their daughters' literary names - and Molly and I walked home chuckling. We loved the West End, with its dramas and its comedy. If we were living in Glastonbury-en-Provence, in the woods and with no sidewalks, would a novel, full of characters and plot lines, open for us every time we opened the front door? When all was said and done, that was what we wanted.
"We'll remember this moment," I said, "whenever we tell the story of how we said no to the most beautiful house we ever got our hands on."
So we gritted our teeth and did it. In the end, we weren't saying no to Provence, but yes to our actual, imperfect, funny, funky, crowded neighborhood. There was, after all, a real Provence, and maybe we could take a trip there, instead of trying to re-create it in Glastonbury. Vacations are for fantasy. For real life, we already had that, right at our doorstep. And that was fantastic enough.
Rand Richards Cooper, author of "The Last to Go" and "Big As Life," is a contributing editor for Bon Appétit. He still lives in Hartford.
Copyright 2006, Hartford Courant