Connecticut, a state blessed with great wealth but also great poverty, has examined the idea of permitting Connecticut cities - almost by definition poor and dis-invested - to have the option to enact property tax reform in the shape of a land value tax, which Governor Jody Rell signed into law for New London in 2009. The reasons were clear: the decay of Connecticut towns was proportional to the damage that sprawl has wrought on the formerly bucolic countryside, with farms replaced by subdivisions, and bank-breaking infrastructure costs.
At that time, a committee was appointed by the city manager, and although their remit was to determine how the land value tax ought to be implemented, instead the committee recommended non-adoption. Although he city council asked for the deadline for the program to be extended it was not to be.
Fast forward to 2012, and a new New London has emerged. There is a strong mayor system of government, and the habits of the past 50 years are being replaced by genuine interest in ways to open the city to the world and its markets. Mayor Daryl Finizio is a supporter of land value tax, and most commerce wants the plan enacted, at least in the downtown. Re-gearing for New London is Re-New London Council, an activist citizens group dedicated to helping the city realize its full potential.
UrbanTools analyses over the past few years have indicated that depending on the plan of enactment, most homeowners would save on their (very) high tax bills, as would the intact Central Business District. The pay mores? Absentee owners and entities like the old Pfizer Plant, which left New London when the tax abatements ended. Now is the time for New London to revisit the land value tax, with discussion and disclosure in the full light of day.
Thanks to a new energy and leadership success looks more likely.
No More Vacant Lots for New London?