West Hartford Electronics Recycling Day- May 5

From the Hartford Courant on April 12, 2007…

West Hartford town officials announced an electronics recycling day on Saturday, May 5. Residents who have old household electronic equipment they want to dispose of can recycle the items at no charge.

Recycling will take place at the town’s public works facility at 25 Brixton St. from 9:00am to noon.

Residents can recycle the following items: computers, monitors, printers, cell phones, televisions, video-cassette recorders, copiers, fax machines, radios, stereos, and rechargeable nickel-cadium batteries.

No commercial electronics will be accepted. Proof of residency will be required.

If you would like more information, visit the vendor’s website at We Recycle.

Chicken Little…

No Chicken Little, the sky is NOT falling…

Home Prices Fall

Nationwide, home prices are expected to drop 0.7% and the national media is all riled up. That’s what happens to asset values. They go up, then they go down, then they go up again. Just like stocks. Just like mutual funds. Over the long term any asset will appreciate if it is valuable (and well maintained in the case of a house). Prices don’t matter if you are not looking to sell (unless you really need to pull some equity out of your home). Overall, people should think about homeownership over the long-term, not the quarterly fluctuations that may or may not be happening in your local market.

If you are planning on selling your current home in order to buy a new house, this still should not be a huge issue. Getting less on your sale means that you are probably going to pay less on your buy. So again, the long-term view should win out.

Affordable Housing in CT

Last week I talked about property taxes in West Hartford making housing unaffordable for some folks. This week it seems that we might want to look at affordable housing in CT in general. The Courant ran an interesting article a few days ago…

A Home They Can Buy…

Here’s a link to the official HOMEConnecticut site if you’d like to learn more…

HOMEConnecticut

Personally, when I moved here 3 years ago, I was surprised at how affordable housing actually was compared to other areas where I previously lived; Vermont, Boston and the DC area. However, I also live in Hartford, a town that often gets overlooked during home searches. I believe there are good buys out there if people are willing to keep an open mind.

West Hartford Taxes

This past Thursday evening I attended the Town Council budget hearing at town hall. The hot topic was the recent property revaluation and new mill rate. It was well attended, I would say over 60 people showed up, even though it was Holy Thursday and Passover.

By my observation, the majority of people were long time West Hartford residents, living in the town anywhere from 25-50 years. Several of the residents that spoke were from multi-generational families of WH. You could sense their great pride for the town, however there was an overwhelming sense of disgust due to the potentially huge increases most are facing with their new tax bills. Many of the attendees were either retired or nearing retirement. It’s not clear to them how they will be able to continue living in WH on fixed incomes. Younger attendees expressed frustration that they were getting priced out of the town because housing prices and tax rates continue to rise. Their jobs simply aren’t paying enough for them to afford living in WH.

Most of the suggestions for reducing the budget revolved around minimizing pay and fringe benefit increases for town employees. Additionally, there were requests to lower the school budget, but no real concrete solutions on how to actually reduce the education budget. Clearly, one of the main draws to WH is it’s school system. It’s a double edge sword to make significant cuts to the school budget, but then continue to expect curriculum, after school activities, and special programs to remain robust.

My belief of what will happen in the next 1-2 years is that WH will see a migration of its Seniors to neighboring communities such as Bloomfield, Farmington, Avon, and Simsbury. These towns have lower taxes, but many of the same services, so Seniors will flock there. House prices in WH will most likely fall because there will be more houses on the market than there will be buyers. Younger buyers that typically would have bought the houses in WH will no longer be able to afford them because of the high tax burden. WH will need to make a decision on if they change the way they tax commercial properties in town. Will Blue Back Square be able to shoulder more of the burden? Will there be enough residents to economically support Blue Back?

The next few years will be an interesting economic experiment for WH. What are your thoughts?

Your Neighborhood Tax Man

Today on CNN Money there is a piece about tax (un)friendly places … Tax Friendly States.

The primary result for us Nutmeggers is that we have one of the highest state and local tax burdens in the country at 12.2%. Connecticut ranks 8th in the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ report that ranks State and Local Tax Burden as a percentage of income. Vermont pays the most at 14.1%, while Alaska pays the least at 6.6%.

Since CT has the highest per capital income in the country, and our percentage paid is 8th, on a dollar basis we are paying the most in the whole country. Now there’s a victory to get excited about; UConn couldn’t get it done, but the tax man can. Go Connecticut!

Once we pile on the Federal income taxes, social security and Medicare our tax picture becomes downright depressing.

Perhaps there is a glimmer of hope. Most people don’t want to move from CT to Alaska, so our best option may be to head north to New Hampshire where they sport the second lowest burden at 8.0%. Or we could follow Killington, Vermont’s lead and try to secede from the state to join NH.