West Haven tax bills going out - with a holiday surprise for taxpayers in Allingtown

Connecticut Office of Policy & Management Secretary and MARB Chairman Benjamin Barnes addresses the West Haven City Council before it voted on the city's proposed 5-year fiscal plan on Monday, Oct. 29.

Connecticut Office of Policy & Management Secretary and MARB Chairman Benjamin Barnes addresses the West Haven City Council before it voted on the city's proposed 5-year fiscal plan on Monday, Oct. 29.

The city is about to send out bills for the second installment of real estate, personal property and motor vehicle taxes and sewer bills — a routine semiannual occurrence that, unfortunately, is anything but routine this year for taxpayers in Allingtown.

That’s because taxpayers in the Allingtown Fire District this year will receive a revised bill for both real estate and personal property because the current levy is insufficient to pay expenses for the current fiscal year, Tax Collector Dorothy Chambrelli said in a news release.

The increase does not affect taxpayers in the West Shore or Center districts. West Haven is split into three fire districts that each has its own tax rate on top of the citywide tax rate.

“Pursuant to statutory requirements and as required in the five-year plan adopted by the state Municipal Accountability Review Board, the City Council approved an increase of 0.94 mill to the current Allingtown (tax) rate, resulting in an increase from 13.06 to 14 mills,” the release states.

Council approval came on Oct. 29.

The mid-year tax increase came out of meetings with the MARB, which made it a requirement to approve the city’s 5-year fiscal recovery plan and avoid having the city move up to Tier 4, which would have meant a higher level of state supervision.

The revised bills will be mailed next week and will replaces the second half of the 2017 grand list bill, which is due Jan. 1 and considered delinquent — and will be subject to interest — as of Feb. 1.

The motor vehicle bill will remain the same, said Chambrelli.

The 2017 supplemental motor vehicle bill also will be mailed in December for vehicles registered after Oct. 1, 2017.

While the fact that taxes are going up in Allingtown — which now has a fire department, the City of West Haven Fire Department - Allingtown, that is no longer independent and is part of the city, has been publicized before.

But city officials are bracing for the backlash when residents actually get their tax bills and start hearing from their mortgage companies.

“I wish we didn’t have to send out a supplemental tax bill,” but “unfortunately, since the Allingtown fire department has come under the city, they’ve had a deficit...” said Mayor Nancy Rossi.

“That, coupled with the fact that the (fire department) pension fund has a deficit, would have come to almost a million” shortfall, she said.

Rossi said the pension fun “was underfunded by the past administration.”

Had the City Council not voted to impose a mid-year tax increase, “we would have gone into Tier 4,” Rossi said. With the supplemental tax bill, “we will move Allingtown out of the deficit situation and hopefully there won’t have to be any more supplemental tax bills.

“No one wants to pay ... but hopefully, better days are coming,” she said. “And of course, around the holidays is the worst time it can go out.”

City Councilwoman Robbin Watt Hamilton, D-5, whose district makes up a large chunk of Allingtown, said that so far there are “a few people I’m starting to hear from. But a lot of people, they don’t know until that escrow is a little short from their bank.”

Hamilton, who reluctantly voted for the tax increase, expects to start hearing from them next week.

“I want it noted that it’s the state that kind of mandated that a tax bill go out because of a shortage of the pension fund from the past administration...” she said. “I know people aren’t happy about it. ...”

For people looking to get it over with, the tax office is open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays on the first floor of City Hall, 355 Main St., the release said.

The city has an ATM outside the office.

City Hall is closed for business Dec. 24, which is a furlough day for city employees.

Taxpayers who don’t want to wait in line can see their tax bills, make a payment, and print their payment history for income tax purposes at www.cityofwesthaven.com. Click on “Tax Collector” under the “Government” heading.

Sewer bills are on the same page but under a separate heading.

In January, taxpayers will be able to pay current taxes by mail to a tax office lockbox, P.O. Box 150461, Hartford 06115-0461, the release said. When paying by lockbox or the drop box outside the tax office in City Hall, the canceled check is the receipt.

After Feb. 1, taxes with interest can be paid by mail to the Office of the Tax Collector, P.O. Box 401, West Haven 06516. Payments also can be made in person.

Anyone who needs a motor vehicle clearance must pay in person with cash, credit card, bank check or money order, according to the release.