The Town’s grand list of taxable property has grown for a second consecutive year, increasing by over $34 million during the pandemic.
“Things in the last year or two … have been relatively robust,” said town Finance Director James Jaskot, adding the town was “thrilled considering the pandemic.”
As of Oct. 1, 2020, the net grand list — which subtracts the value of property tax exemptions — increased to nearly $2.88 billion, an uptick of 1.21 percent over the 2019 grand list, which itself saw a 1.52 percent increase.
“This two-year stretch, totaling an increase of over 2.73 percent, is higher than any two consecutive years for non-revaluation grand lists in over 15 years,” said an announcement of the increase from Town Manager Sean Kimball.
The value of real estate saw the largest increase at $16.6 million, or 0.67 percent, followed by the value of motor vehicles registered in town, which went up by $14.6 million or 5.83 percent. Personal property — which largely constitutes the value of equipment, machinery and other property owned by businesses — also grew by $3.49 million or an increase of 2.08 percent.
Interim Assessor Christine McCardle said the town benefited from new developments, business expansions — including Big Y and Viron Rondo Osteria — and a new apartment building near South Main Street and Highland Avenue.
Jaskot estimated the increased property value would amount to an additional $1.1 million in tax revenue under the current 33.22 mill rate. He said the town was lucky to have a tax base buoyed by distributors like Buzzuto’s, which did not slow during the pandemic.
“We probably lucked out a little bit, but it sounds like we have a lot of businesses which weren’t directly impacted by the pandemic,” he said.
Economic Development Coordinator Jerry Sitko said it’s been a longstanding goal of the town to maintain a diverse tax base.
Sitko feels the town has remained attractive to businesses due to a combination of factors, including location, a “well maintained and well managed” town government and a stable mill rate.
“Despite the pandemic, we've seen interest in companies expanding here...Now some of it started before the pandemic ... but it kept rolling through the pandemic,” he said.
Viron Rondo Osteria’s nearly-completed project adds a second kitchen, new indoor and outdoor dining space and 65 additional parking spaces.
“We are happy to be here and the town supported us from day one … it's a great town,” said owner Viron Rondos.
Business has grown so quickly at the Highland Avenue restaurant that the main kitchen couldn’t keep up, necessitating the addition of a second 3,000 square foot prep kitchen. They also added 7,000 square feet of outdoor dining space and an outdoor bar in 2019.
The three-year project is expected to be complete this spring, though Rondo doesn’t expect to stop there. Calling the business his fourth child, he wants customers to always have something new to see with every visit.
“I would like to thank the community for being so supportive,” he said. “ … We couldn't ask for a better place to be.