Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Milford Condo Associations Speak Out
The property taxes on these free standing houses are not discounted, and some are crying foul. Starting 2011 the Condo Fees in Lexington Green will be jumping from $90.00 per month to $135.00 per month. This jump marks a 60% increase in condo fees since 2007 when each homeowner paid $85.00. The staggering increase in fees has left very few people happy, especially during these challenging economic times.
The increased costs are due to a need to repave all the roads in the development. The cost of this project was outlined in the 2011 budget for Lexington Green and amounts to more money than can reasonably be procured from the occupants of the development at one time. This is why the repaving project will go on for several months or perhaps a year or so until its complete.
Homeowners in these types of developments have long argued for tax breaks from the city of Milford. This is because unlike true city homes Condo Associations pay "out of pocket" to have all their roads paved, their trash collected, their snow removed, their storm drains repaired and cleaned, they pay for their our own electric and street lighting, and again maintain and pay high property taxes on unused land that private landscapers maintain. Milford in exchange enjoys regulatory and P&Z authority. Condo associations are told by the the city how association property can be used and increases taxes on any improvements.
The fundamental unfairness arises due to the tax assessment burden placed on condo properties by the Assessors office. They use the same formula for Condo Associations that they do for a home on a city street. Homes who get all the aforementioned city services for free.
Personally I believe that the assessment process is flawed because of this very paradox. The Assessor is not permitted to take into consideration the fact that homes in many Condo Associations relieve the city of millions of dollars in city services. The flawed assessment process only serves to push down the value of condo association homes of which are viewed by buyers as having higher carrying costs and less value due to the myopic policy of the city of Milford. The ongoing need to for Condo management companies to levy fees above and over those imposed by city taxes is unjust. This is because Condo owners must pay additional fees to cover those services every other resident in town gets for FREE. To add "insult to injury" homes in Condo Associations, when compared to similar "in town" homes, are worth less because of this city tax model.
Moving forward in the coming years, an ordinance should be proposed that abates taxes to Condo Associations for privatizing many city services.These Condo Associations if treated fairly can be encouraged and used in a manner that relieves the city coffers from the excessive costs of maintaining its infrastructure. Adopting a P&Z model that encourages, rather than discourages the formation of Condo Associations may be a good cost cutting idea in the coming years. This will be especially true when Milford maxes out its tax base and loses its ability to engage in collective bargaining with city unions.
Hopefully, this practice of taxation with service limitation will cease and decist as city leaders grow wiser in the coming years. Homeowners in condo associations would rather pay higher property tax based on higher home values than the combined double tax of city and association levys void of many city services.