FAIRFIELD, Conn. – The Fairfield Daily Voice accepts signed, original letters to the editor. Send letters to Fairfield@dailyvoice.com.
I was three months pregnant when I moved to Fairfield in 1984. Jacky Durrell was the First Selectman. Other than the arrival of my family, some of the big events that year included: the opening of the Route 8 Expressway, the first major north-south artery in the state; the creation of 84 two-acre home sites in a development called “The Ridge” and continued heated debate about going to one high school due to a shrinking student population. The Fairfield Store was in its 63rd year, and Mercurio’s was still across the street.
According to a NY Times article in December 1985, property taxes on a $500,000 home, based then on 45 percent of its value and a mill rate of 25.20, were $5,670.
Fairfield was a “homespun” town back then, in the sense that there were as many as three generations of local families still thriving here. Most of our teachers, librarians, police and fire chiefs all lived in the community, along with my heating oil delivery man and many local businesses owners.
Now, 28 years later, the exact opposite is the case. Most of the town’s employees, from the First Selectman to the secretaries at the Board of Education, do not own property in town, and do not have to pay a tax bill that increases each year without fail.
The taxes this year on that $500,000 home, which is now worth around $1.2 million are almost $20,000 (based on the housing price index for CT published by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and which is now assessed on 70 percent of its value and taxed at a 23.37 mill rate).
Our taxes have gone up at an annual growth rate of almost 5%. Inflation over the same period has been less than 3 percent annually.
The fact that so many of our public employees do not pay taxes in Fairfield makes it much more difficult to explain to them why we can no longer afford all of the services that the town is providing.
The increase in property taxes that residents have absorbed over the last 10 years has changed the fabric of our community. Seniors feel as though they have to move out, our elected officials are renting apartments, local business owners have closed their shops and younger generations no longer feel that they can afford a home in Fairfield.
Kate Daniello Fairfield for Good Government
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