Trumbull mill rate goes down, but officials say taxes will go up

Exterior of Trumbull Town Hall, in Trumbull, Conn. April 5, 2017.

Exterior of Trumbull Town Hall, in Trumbull, Conn. April 5, 2017.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

TRUMBULL — The town’s mill rate for the next fiscal year has been set at 33.64, a decrease from the current mill rate of 35.42. Despite that drop, officials said most property owners in town will see their taxes go up.

Board of Finance chair Lainie McHugh and some others attributed that largely to the state-mandated revaluation that took place this year, and ended up shifting more than $7 million in property tax burden from commercial to residential taxpayers. That had upsides and downsides, McHugh said.

“A lot of people’s home values went up,” she said. “On the one hand, it’s bad that taxes are going up. But the equity in your home is going up, too.”

To some, this is cold comfort. The Trumbull Republican Town Committee issued a statement saying the new mill rate will create a “massive tax increase.”

“While we all suffer through the worst inflation most of us have ever seen, the administration of our town just added to that burden,” the statement read.

The Republicans also mocked the idea of presenting the rise in home values in a positive light. “We can’t imagine that does any good if you can’t afford to live in them or heat them,” the statement read.

A town document presented during last week’s Board of Finance meeting showed that, in 2022, an average house in Trumbull was assessed at $234,430. In 2023, that same house would be assessed at $284,620. Under the new mill rate, the document showed, taxes would increase by an average of about 15 percent.

However, First Selectman Vicki Tesoro said she’s not sure that average is fair. She said revaluation can skew the numbers widely, as even homes in the same neighborhood of comparable value can be assessed much differently, particularly if one homeowner has invested in doing work on their property and their neighbors haven’t.

The mill rate was set roughly a month after the Town Council voted to pass a budget of $202.8 million.

A mill is equal to $1 of tax for each $1,000 of assessment. To calculate the property tax, people can multiply the assessment of the property by the mill rate and divide by 1,000.

The state mandates that a revaluation be done every five years. A revaluation is the process of appraising all real property according to its full and fair value in order to spread the tax burden equitably across the town.

Trumbull’s last revaluation occurred in 2015. Tesoro said that, due to COVID-19 impact, the town opted, as allowed by law, to delay the revaluation a year to 2021. Though she tried to delay yet another year, she was told it was impossible.

“This is the law,” Tesoro said. “We have to follow the law, even when it’s not (to the benefit) of our taxpayers.”