When Thomas Rea was required to elevate his shoreline home after Hurricane Sandy, he was surprised and not too happy to learn that his taxes would go up due to new views the additional height brought.The property field card from the assessor\u2019s office that details the assessment of his property has new letters and numbers on it. The letters, \u201cPMV\u201d stand for \u201cpartial marsh views,\u201d and there is a \u201c+20%\u201d next to the \u201cPMV.\u201dThis means that the assessment on his land on Pearl Street in the Silver Sands Beach area increased 20% because of those partial marsh views.Rea says his view hasn\u2019t changed much since elevating his home \u2014 something the government told him he had to do, he points out. From his back deck he can still see some of Silver Sands State Park, the adjacent marsh, and a neighbor\u2019s yard that is filled with cars, car parts and various debris.Still, the elevation and its corresponding view means he will have to pay $351 in view tax that he didn\u2019t pay before.Rea was surprised when he got a letter telling him about the view tax.\u201cWith everything we went through, I don\u2019t think it\u2019s fair,\u201d Rea said.Rea\u2019s house, along with others in the area, was slammed by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and Irene before that, and rendered unlivable. Rea was told his house suffered more than 53% damage, so in order to get the permits to fix the storm damage and move back in, he had to first pay to elevate his home.He rented a house in West Haven for more than a year as he worked through paperwork and then borrowed money to fix his house: He now has a mortgage, which he didn\u2019t have before. He finally moved back in last January.He wasn\u2019t expecting a higher property assessment after all was said and done.\u201cIf they want to balance the budget,\u201d Rea said, \u201cI don\u2019t want them to do it on the backs of the storm victims.\u201dAdded valueMilford residents have been paying more for nice views for years. In 2006, with revaluation, people along the shoreline braced for substantial tax increases because the sales prices for properties along the shore increased proportionately more than those of homes inland. The revaluation reflected that market swing, adding to the assessments of homes on the shoreline.\u201cWe add value to land for a view,\u201d said City Assessor Daniel Thomas. \u201cWe add as much as 50% for a clear, unobstructed view of the water.\u201dThe increase, however, applies only to the appraisal and assessment of the land, not the improvements on it, so in most cases, that hike might apply only to one-third of the property tax assessment.It\u2019s all about the \u201cviews, views, views,\u201d Thomas said, quoting real estate ads for shoreline properties. Views do indeed increase the value of a home, he said, and one real estate agent confirmed that views can add 30% to the overall value of a property.Thomas said the city tracked 50 properties, and view \u201cclearly had an impact\u201d on the sales price.In Rea\u2019s case, his land was assessed at $78,850 before Sandy. After Sandy the city assessor\u2019s office took into account that the area was devastated by the storm and lowered that to $64,510 in 2013. That was for the land only. At the same time the house went from an assessment of $101,940 to $94,210, according to city records.In 2014, after Rea repaired and elevated his house, his land assessment went from $64,510 to $77,410. It\u2019s lower than it was in 2012, but that is because the assessor\u2019s office is still taking into account the fact that Silver Sands is in transition following the storm.\u201cIt works both ways,\u201d Thomas said, explaining that some conditions will lead the city to lower the assessment, and therefore lower the amount of taxes that can be collected from a property owner.The house, with its new windows and new siding \u2014 plus an additional bathroom \u2014 jumped from an assessment of $94,210 to $136,070 after it was elevated, and that\u2019s even substantially higher than the pre-storm assessment of $101,940.The jump is based on the structural improvements. But again, Rea questions the hike: \u201cI had to replace the windows. The other ones had been under water,\u201d he said.So what did the storm and the needed repairs do to Rea\u2019s tax bill? Bear in mind that the mill rate changes each year, but using the current mill rate of 27.22, the taxes on 18 Pearl Street go from $4,921 based on 2012 figures to $4,320 based on the 2013 assessment, to $5,810 based on the current assessment.That means that post-Sandy, taking into account new views and new construction required to bring his home into compliance, Rea will pay about $1,000 more in taxes than he did before the storm, more if you consider that the mill rate was lower pre-Sandy.More to comeWith many homes in Milford still in the process of being elevated, there are more people who, like Rea, will find themselves with higher tax bills, and some will see a view tax they didn\u2019t see before.The city assessor estimates that one-third to one-half of the properties that do not stand right on the shore but had to elevate will see a new view tax. It all depends on the view: If the house next door also elevated, blocking a potential view, then there would be no new assessment for the scenery.\u201cWe\u2019re pretty careful about how we apply it,\u201d Thomas said.The properties on the water already paid more for their view, he said.\u201cSome assessors are afraid of applying it, but I haven\u2019t shied away from it,\u201d Thomas said. \u201cIt might feel like you\u2019re being penalized, but when an appraiser comes out if you\u2019re going to sell, you point to the view.\u201dPaying for a viewThe Internet is full of news articles about people in other regions lamenting their view tax, some paying a premium for mountain or other scenes they can see from their houses.A 2010 CNN article by Cindy Perman advises people that if they buy a house near a golf course, that could impact the fair market value of their property.\u201cThe location of your land is an important component of your home\u2019s valuation and taxes,\u201d the article states. \u201cIf you live close to town or a pretty lake, that\u2019s going to mean higher taxes. Pay attention to local construction. In the same way that construction of a new highway or chemical plant close to a home can dent its value, the addition of a golf course, lake or other amenity can boost the value of a home \u2014 and the tax bill.\u201dAnother expert quoted in the article pointed out that property values \u201care a double-edged sword\u201d because people want their property values to go up, but they don\u2019t want their taxes to go up accordingly.And according to a 1987 New York Times article by Richard D. Lyons, in 1986, when Burlington, Conn., residents complained about paying a view tax for their homes that sit atop a mountain, town officials insisted they were within their rights in adding the surcharges because pleasant views and fancy architecture add to property values.Nothing newIn Milford, Thomas said, he\u2019s never specifically called it a \u201cview tax,\u201d but he said it can be called that. Simply, \u201cproperties are assessed on their fair market value. If having two baths makes a property worth more than one bath, I as the assessor am obligated to recognize this. If it is a fact that views add value \u2014 and I don\u2019t believe there is any convincing argument that they don\u2019t \u2014 then I am obligated by law to assess.\u201dIn general, properties are reassessed every five years. But the law requires that the city reassess when the property physically changes; the law requires that assessors be copied on every certificate of occupancy that the building department issues, meaning the assessor\u2019s office knows when substantial improvements have been completed.The view tax is nothing new, Thomas said.\u201cIf a certain property tax is based on value, market value, and a view adds to that value, then I would suggest that folks have been paying tax on their views for a long time, whether it was called that or not,\u201d he said.However, homeowners who are elevating their homes seem surprised by it.\u201cI am in the process of having my house raised,\u201d said a Melba Street resident. \u201cBecause I am using grant money, I have to live in the house for five years in order for the grant\/loan to be forgiven. Do you mean that I will be penalized with higher taxes for coming into compliance with mandated FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] regulations?\u00a0 If that is so, the sooner I get out of Milford, the better.\u201dA Hillside Avenue resident said her taxes did not increase, but her view didn\u2019t change. Still, she said she doesn\u2019t like the idea of other people\u2019s property taxes increasing after the homeowner worked to meet FEMA regulations.\u201cMany of us have already gone through and paid for variances for having to elevate,\u201d she said. \u201cMy water view hasn\u2019t changed, but if others are taxed, I\u2019ll fight that absurdity right along with them.\u201cReprehensible,\u201d she added.Right to appealOf course residents have the right to appeal their assessment.There are three general methods of appeal, Thomas explained.The first is an informal meeting with the assessor to discuss the assessment, review the information that it\u2019s based on and determine whether it is fair and equitable. This may also involve a visit to the property.\u201cThis is usually deemed the best option because you are dealing with the individual responsible for the assessment and therefore the one best capable of dealing with the issues,\u201d Thomas said.If not satisfied with the review by the assessor, a property owner may appeal to the Board of Assessment Appeals. They meet once a year, usually in March, to hear real estate assessment appeals. The filing period for application to meet with the Board of Assessment Appeals is Feb. 1 through Feb. 20 of each year.Finally, if dissatisfied with the board\u2019s review, a property owner may appeal to Superior Court for remedy.\u201cIn all instances, the fair market value of the property should be the overriding consideration,\u201d Thomas said.