New Britain sues Southington over watershed and reservoir assessment

SOUTHINGTON – The New Britain Water Department is suing Southington over the valuation of properties the city owns in the city, including the Wassel and Shuttle Meadow reservoirs.

The New Britain Council of Water Commissioners challenges a much higher estimate of more than 1,200 acres of water department land.

Southington conducted a reassessment of the city’s taxable properties in 2019, which generally increased property values. The outgoing tax accounts this year will be calculated on the basis of the new assessments.

Double assessment

Joseph Skelly Jr., a lawyer from New Britain, said the water department’s land was valued at around $ 2,100 an acre. That changed with the 2019 reassessment.

“They’ve got us in the over $ 5,000 per acre range,” he said. “It’s definitely double what it was.”

In the lawsuit, Skelly wrote that state law requires cities to tax water supply land as agricultural land rather than its developed value.

“It is the property of the watershed. It’s supposed to be valued as if it were farmland, ”Skelly said. “It’s not like your highest and best use value. “

Skelly said New Britain has an appraiser who can support the appraisal of around $ 2,100 an acre. The New Britain Water Department has 14 properties in Southington.

New Britain appealed its water department’s property valuation earlier this year. Last month, the Southington Valuations Appeals Board voted not to change the valuations.

Skelly filed the lawsuit in Superior Court late last month.

Southington city officials declined to comment on the case as it was an ongoing litigation.

Meadow Shuttle Reservoir

New Britain’s largest farms in Southington are in the northeast corner of town. They include the Shuttle Meadow and Wassel reservoirs as well as the surrounding land.

The property at 315 Long Bottom Road consists almost entirely of the Shuttle Meadow Reservoir and was valued at just over $ 500,000 prior to reassessment. Last year, the water utility paid $ 15,750 in taxes for the 300 acres of reservoir and land.

After the revaluation, Southington valued the property at $ 1,110,720.

The appraisal is 70 percent of the appraised value of the property. Property is taxed based on assessed value and the thousandth rate, with the thousandth rate being the amount of taxes owed on each $ 1,000 of assessed property value.

A spokeswoman for New Britain mayor Erin Stewart declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Properties across the city

The New Britain Water Department also has properties in the far west of the city, near Mount Vernon Road. These operations include 158 Cascade Ridge, a 12-acre parcel that includes a small pond and creek.

Another property spans 156 unaddressed acres off Mount Vernon Road near the New Britain Reservoir, just above the city limit.

Appraisal calls

Jim Bowes, chairman of the Southington Board of Assessment Appeals, said he believed the city’s assessment process was working for newly reassessed New Britain properties.

The board of directors unanimously rejected New Britain’s appeal.

jbuchanan@record-journal.com203-317-2230Twitter: @JBuchananRJ

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